Google yanks option to restore Chrome's old-style new tab page, riles users all over again

Google digs in its heels, tells users to find an add-on if they don't like the new new tab page

Google has removed the option that let Chrome users restore an older version of the new tab page, closing that loophole and showing the oft-criticized scheme to everyone.

The new tab page appears when users press Ctrl-T (Windows) or Command-T (OS X) in Chrome. All browsers offer a similar new tab page that, at a minimum, shows thumbnails of the user's most visited websites. The feature, which debuted on Opera in 2007, has been copied by all its rivals, including Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's Safari.

Last September, Google rolled out its redesigned new tab page with Chrome 29, featuring eight thumbnails of frequently-visited websites and a large Google search box, shifted the Web apps view to a button, and dumped other features, including the ability to view recently closed tabs.

Users howled. In comments posted to the browser's support forum, they blasted the changes as unnecessary and disruptive to their online productivity.

But at the time, Google left them an out. By setting "Enable Instant Extended API" in the advanced options -- reachable by typing "chrome://flags" in the address bar -- to "Disable," users were able to restore the old new tab page.

Last Thursday, however, with the release of Chrome 33, Google yanked that setting from the "flags" page.

"The chrome://flags page differs from other Chrome settings in that they are meant for developers and are not official or a supported part of Chrome," explained SarahMM on a support thread dedicated to the disappearance of the "Enable Instant Extended API" option. SarahMM was identified as a Google employee.

"In the case of Instant Extended API, this is based on old code, which is not included in our most recent update," SarahMM added.

Instead, she recommended that Chromes users install one of three add-ons that modify the new new tab page, but do not completely restore it to the older style. Computerworld's expert on all things Google, blogger JR Raphael, suggested one more.

To say that users were unhappy would be a monumental understatement: As of early Monday, the thread dedicated to the vanished flag setting contained over 400 posts, a very high number for a Google support forum.

Some of the messages were definitely not workplace appropriate, unless one's workplace was an NFL stadium after the home team had just handed the ball over four straight times.

Google New Tab Page
Furious Chrome users told Google that they hated the new new tab page (shown here) and wanted the company to restore the option that had let them revert to the old-style version.
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