Yesterday, a story critical of Google was making the rounds purported to be from a former intern that worked on the Microsoft Edge team. Joshua Bakita detailed one particular instance in which Google allegedly altered site code to make Google apps/website either not render properly or perform poorly on competing browsers.
"For example, they recently added a hidden empty div over YouTube videos that causes our hardware acceleration fast-path to bail," wrote Bakita. "Prior to that, our fairly state-of-the-art video acceleration put us well ahead of Chrome on video playback time on battery, but almost the instant they broke things on YouTube, they started advertising Chrome's dominance over Edge on video-watching battery life."
Bakita then went on to lament Google's policies and their effect on users. He also added that this was just one of many examples of Google's efforts to stifle the competition.
Although Google didn't have to respond to the accounts of a former Microsoft intern making claims on an internet forum, a YouTube spokesperson did provide a statement to The Verge denying that any ill will was intended. Instead, the representative contends that the blank div was a bug in its code that was later fixed (after it was brought to Google's attention). The representative went on to add:
YouTube does not add code designed to defeat optimizations in other browsers, and works quickly to fix bugs when they’re discovered. We regularly engage with other browser vendors through standards bodies, the Web Platform Tests project, the open-source Chromium project and more to improve browser interoperability.
Although the YouTube representative seems to make the case that Google doesn't go out of its way to make life harder for competing browsers, Mozilla employees have also complained about policies that have made the Google ecosystem interoperability frustrating.
YouTube page load is 5x slower in Firefox and Edge than in Chrome because YouTube's Polymer redesign relies on the deprecated Shadow DOM v0 API only implemented in Chrome. You can restore YouTube's faster pre-Polymer design with this Firefox extension: https://t.co/F5uEn3iMLR— Chris Peterson (@cpeterso) July 24, 2018
With Microsoft now joining Google's Chromium project for future versions of Microsoft Edge, the pressure is now mounting for Mozilla, and its ability to maintain Firefox going forward. The company expressed dismay with Microsoft’s decision to join Google, stating, that Microsoft was "officially giving up".
"Google is a fierce competitor with highly talented employees and a monopolistic hold on unique assets," Mozilla added. "Google’s dominance across search, advertising, smartphones, and data capture creates a vastly tilted playing field that works against the rest of us."