Gone: Google Toolbar (2000-2021)

For both better and worse, the internet landscape moves fast. Shortening attention spans and memories all over the world. But every once in a while, we get a reminder of what once was. [Ron Amadeo] of Ars Technica fired up a Google product of year 2000 in Take one last look at Google Toolbar, which is now dead.

Today it’s hard to find an operating system that does not bundle a web browser. But back then, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was so dominant, the browser’s inclusion in Windows led to an antitrust lawsuit. Trying to get out from under IE’s shadow, many internet companies grabbed a toehold on users’ computers by installing a toolbar. (The comments thread on that Ars Technica article includes some horrific screenshots of mass toolbar infestation.)

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Google was just one company among many fighting for finite real estate, using Toolbar to circumvent Microsoft and redirect people to Google properties. In their efforts to entice users to install, Google promised capabilities that are now hilariously out of date, like integration with a wide swath of also-dead Google products. On the flip side there were some features that were nice while it lasted, like a single toggle to turn off all telemetry sent back to Google. Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice today?

Google now has its own Chrome browser, enjoying the kind of dominance Internet Explorer once had. With Microsoft itself leaving IE behind, there’s no longer any reason for Google Toolbar to exist. So, Google pulled the plug just before it turned 21 years old. Farewell Google Toolbar, we’ll remember you for… five minutes, tops.

10 thoughts on “Gone: Google Toolbar (2000-2021)

  1. I think there is more to this story than is published, but I don’t remember the exact story. It went something like (disclaimer, could have been a similar product, I didn’t work on it), a slightly shady Israeli company was pushing this ads-come-boarder-line-malware tool bar things onto unsuspecting users, doing so with a faux Google partnership/branding claim/implication. Google found out about this and tried to lawyer them into stopping. But then realized the value of a Google branded toolbar on the desktop and reversed course, (I think) paying the company a bunch of money to put it out (still with malware bits) since this was quicker than building their own.

    I forgot how that part ends, I think Google bought the toolbar product (I don’t think it bought the company), and eventually release it’s own malware free (or free of non-Google malware anyway) toolbar.

    Ring any bells?

      1. @Owl said: “And said children continue to grow!”

        Yes the Google Child continues to grow, but sub-optimally. It would benefit itself and everyone else far more if it grew up and acted responsibly.

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