Google has, once again, postponed the end of Manifest V2 extensions support in the company's Chrome web browser and in its open source core Chromium.
Google published an early draft of Manifest V3 for Chrome extensions in January 2019. Manifest files define the capabilities of browser extensions, and any changes made to them can make or break extensions.
In Google's case, Manifest V3 was clearly intended to limit content blockers. Several extension developers stated back then that if Manifest V3 would roll out like initially intended, it could mean the end of content blocking in Chrome.
Google tweaked and changed the draft and postponed testing and the rollout of Manifest V3, and the retirement of Manifest V2 support, several times.
In 2021, for instance, Google announced that it would stop accepting new Manifest V2 extensions by January 2022 and would disable these extensions in June 2023 in Chrome. Google planned to disable support for running Manifest V2 extensions by January 2023, but announced in December 2022 that it would postpone the change.
In December 2022, Google announced that it would postpone the January 2023 changes and all following changes.
Now, three months later, Google provided a bit of clarity in a post on the official mailing list. Google admits that it is "still working on the timeline of the MV2 phase-out plan" and that it plans to publish a new timeline in the coming months.
Chrome extension developers will have "sufficient migration time" before any changes are made to Manifest V2 support in Chrome. Google will give developers at least 6 months "of heads-up" before it will even start experimenting with turning of Manifest V2 support in the browser.
It appears that Manifest V2 support will be removed sometime in 2024 now at the earliest, but it is still possible that the change will be delayed again.
The official Manifest V2 sunset page on the Chrome Developer website was updated already to reflect the decision.
Google states that it remains "committed to the rollout of MV3 to improve security, privacy, and performance" for users of Chrome. The company wants to phase out support for Manifest V2 in a timely manner, but that did not work out too well up until now.
Most Chromium-based browsers will follow Google in ending support for Manifest V2 extensions, once the changes land in Chromium. Mozilla, maker of Firefox and one of the few browser makers not dependent on Chromium, will support Manifest V2 and V3 extensions in the Firefox browser.
Google's Manifest V3 implementation remains highly controversial, that is for sure.