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"For example, they may start integrating technologies for which they have exclusive, or at least 'special' access. Can you imagine if all of a sudden Google apps start performing better than anyone else's?"

This is already happening. I very recently worked on the Edge team, and one of the reasons we decided to end EdgeHTML was because Google kept making changes to its sites that broke other browsers, and we couldn't keep up. For example, they recently added a hidden empty div over YouTube videos that causes our hardware acceleration fast-path to bail (should now be fixed in Win10 Oct update). 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. What makes it so sad, is that their claimed dominance was not due to ingenious optimization work by Chrome, but due to a failure of YouTube. On the whole, they only made the web slower.

Now while I'm not sure I'm convinced that YouTube was changed intentionally to slow Edge, many of my co-workers are quite convinced - and they're the ones who looked into it personally. To add to this all, when we asked, YouTube turned down our request to remove the hidden empty div and did not elaborate further.

And this is only one case.




The behaviour that your co-workers claim Google engaged in sounds pretty exactly like the AMD-Intel antitrust case where AMD alleged that Intel's C compiler was deliberately crippling performance on AMD processors to help Intel's processors compete. If true, Microsoft should sue Google over it - not just out of raw corporate self-interest, but because this sort of conduct is evil and should be stamped out.

If this case hasn't already been run up to Microsoft's lawyers, start running it up to them. You'll be doing the world a service.


What will Microsoft gain if they Win? Nothing. Google has the upper hand in public image. Microsoft is still evil outside of Dev Circles. And IE did some ass moves as well in IE6 era, think about the PR mess this would lead.

It is not the best time to strike now, once the timing is right, I am sure they will.


"What will Microsoft gain if they Win? Nothing. "

They'll get a more level playing field.

CEO's generally don't order this stuff to happen. More often it's a director, manager, VP or whatever that's just really aggressive. Possibly the CEO knew or not.

When a company gets bloodied for a pile of money, they generally have to own up to it, which makes them look bad (by they way, these things do have a cumulative effect) - but more importantly, they have to at very least 'go through the motions' of getting staff to 'not do this stuff'.

So they have 'training' and 'oversight' etc.. However ingrained it is into behaviour (or even a single rotten apple) the likelihood of recursion goes down.

For example - if an inner legal team gets some responsibility for oversight on these issues, they can make life difficult for managers on these things.

I worked at a Fortune 50 that was sued by a patent troll, and it seriously and fundamentally changed internal culture to the point wherein we needed lawyers involved in everything, it was really bad. Obviously a negative example.

But especially Microsoft has enough $ to drag Google into court, they should do it.

That said: I'll bet $100 that MS might be doing some tricky things of their own anyhow.


Microsoft and Google exist in a bit of a cold war. They don't want to destroy each other in court. You can't just take free shots and not expect a response.


"Microsoft is still evil outside of Dev Circles"

TBH, I consider Google much more evil than Microsoft, in or outside of Dev Circles. Microsoft dropped the evil baton and Google picked it up and sprinted away.


I wonder whose circles are those, most non-technical people I know doesn't care less about evil, good or whatever.


Agree.

What Microsoft gain after Windows Phone YouTube app case? Nothing. Google successfully fucked up Microsoft.


Google will continue to have the upper hand in public image until stuff like that happens. Yes, this would be a PR challenge, but one MS might even be able to spin in a way they can benefit from...


> "What will Microsoft gain if they Win?"

Uh, money? It might not exactly be a noble incentive for a lawsuit, but it's sure as hell an incentive, isn't it?


I wonder what sort of information Google might dredge up during discovery that Microsoft wouldn't want to see the light of day. I'm no lawyer/accountant, so I don't know what amount of money would be worth that risk.

With a lot of legal issues, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.



I mean google was recently caught doing the same thing with baidu... https://theintercept.com/2018/12/17/google-china-censored-se...


There are dev circles where Microsoft isn't evil? I've been a Unix/Linux dev for thirty years so maybe I'm not keeping up, but the general view was that if Microsoft had a platform we needed to target it was because it made us money and we assumed we'd eventually get burned - which nearly every time we did.

And I've worked for Google in the past, but their main issue has always been that they change a lot which makes them a moving target which is annoying in its own way.

Microsoft earned its public image and while it's made nicer noises recently it's not an organisation that fills me with trust.


Fascinating. I wonder what the counter-argument would be; that a website isn't software, perhaps? That argument could be sufficiently argued apart by equating manually downloaded/installed software with code that's manually downloaded (GET / host: youtube.com) and run in a browser context.

I'd be curious to see how likely Microsoft would be to follow this approach rather than to just stick to using Blink... as they've already decided to do.


The counter arguments are a) broken rendering in your browser does not dictate how my websites have to be, and b) since when is Google a monopoly on standardized HTML web video?

Google could start responding to YouTube requests with binary streams of gibberish if they want, MS would only have standing to sue as a content creator and advertiser on YouTube.

If Google is reverse engineering other browsers optimization paths and putting out content that is disagreeable to that optimization, that's possibly unfortunate but not illegal.


a) A broken reference C compiler don't dictate how a different C compiler might act -- in reference to the case which Intel lost.

b) since Google's browser became the defacto standard browser thanks to Edge switching engines, hence the thread. The standard doesn't really matter anymore; Google makes most of them now as a matter of course anyway.


Another example: on Android, look up scores of an ongoing sports event on mobile Chrome, and mobile Firefox. Mobile chrome gets you a box saying what the score actually is; mobile firefox just shows you the links to sports-league and news sites that you see under the score in mobile Chrome.

Click the "show desktop view" page on mobile firefox, reload, and suddenly the score is there. They're not discriminating that aggressively against competing desktop browsers. Yet.


I'm surprised by how much less attention this gets. I couldn't use firefox or any other browser because google searches in chrome brings up results like if you were within the google app. But use any other browser and you'll just get the legacy layout and links to pages.


> For example, they recently added a hidden empty div over YouTube videos that causes our hardware acceleration fast-path to bail (should now be fixed in Win10 Oct update). 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.

Huh?

First, I can find nowhere that Chrome claimed to have better video-watching battery life (in fact, popular tech sites mention improving but still worse[1]).

Second, the only dip I can find in the public Edge battery life tests[2] was

April 2017 - 12.5 hours

Dec 2017 - 16 hours

May 2018 - 14.3 hours

vs Chrome's 9.3, 13.5, and 12.5 hours. Which means whatever happened last spring, Chrome also dipped.

And third, how about we talk about the kind of web browser battery benchmark based on playing fullscreen video and is defeated by adding a single hidden div? It's not testing battery life of a representative sample of what a web browser is actually used for (especially over 12+ hours), and obviously wasn't very resilient in the face of what a web browser has to actually handle.

Honestly it sounds like they added a div for unrelated reasons (accessibility, "security", ads, who knows), thought it was worth the performance tradeoff (or never measured), and it indirectly ended up making Edge better for real web content (as of the Win10 Oct update).

[1] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/05/edge-still-boasts-be...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWs4_NfqMtoxOT8E8d5KP...


Counter anecdote: As a Google engineer it always seemed like Edge implemented the sparsest possible version of the web platform to make major Google products work–and literally nothing else. That works to launch the browser, but then basically any product change runs a chance to no longer fall into that sparse subset and break in a browser. If Edge had implemented a more robust set of features, it would have massively improved compatibility down the road.


Features like empty divs on top of video? Could be by accident ofc, but the entire story makes this unlikely.


> Features like empty divs on top of video? Could be by accident ofc, but the entire story makes this unlikely.

I'd suggest inspecting a few sites you watch video on. An empty div is the least weird thing you'll find.


I highly suspect that the issue is that Windows video playback can only use scanout compositing if there is nothing on top of the video. Scanout compositing is significantly more energy-efficient than standard framebuffer compositing because it avoids a memory copy each frame.

This ultimately comes down to hardware limitations. GPUs are limited as to what they can compose during scanout, because of memory bandwidth limits. Each plane that you can alpha-blend together at scanout time multiplies the amount of memory fetches per dot you have to do. On today's high-DPI displays, the bandwidth going out to the display is very high to begin with, so you can't afford to multiply that by much. That is why putting something on top of a video is tricky: you're adding another layer to be alpha-blended on top, increasing your memory bandwidth by 50% over the two layers you already have (RGB for the background plus YUV for the video). The user's GPU may or may not support that--as I recall, prior to Skylake, Intel GPUs only had two hardware planes, for instance.

I'm not surprised that Microsoft just used "are there any DOM elements over the video?" as a quick heuristic to determine whether scanout compositing can be used. Remember that there is always a tradeoff between heuristics and performance. At the limit you could scan every pixel of each layer to see whether all of them are transparent and cull the layer if so, but that would be very expensive. You need heuristics of some kind to get good performance, and I can't blame Microsoft for using the DOM for that.


> You need heuristics of some kind to get good performance, and I can't blame Microsoft for using the DOM for that.

which, again, that's fine, but mayyyyybe they were a little lax in checking performance on nearly any other popular video site on the web to see if that heuristic is a good one?

Or maybe changing page layout in an extremely common way wasn't an effort to undermine a hyper specific benchmark?


How many sites put invisible DOM elements over the videos?

Remember, if you put visible DOM elements on top of the videos, then you lose scanout compositing no matter what.


> How many sites put invisible DOM elements over the videos?

A lot of them? Vimeo, for instance, has a number of opacity: 0 and hidden divs over the video. Twitch has at least a couple of opacity: 0 divs on top.

Maybe we're interpreting the phrase

> hidden empty div over YouTube videos

differently? That's the structure I assume they were talking about.


I'd assume that it was actually an invisible, but not technically hidden div, leading to a fully transparent blending pass - divs with opacity:0 or display:none are trivial to optimize for this case.


> I'd assume that it was actually an invisible, but not technically hidden div

Considering that it's now optimized and that's not what the original post said, I don't know why you'd assume that.


There are visible elements on top of YouTube videos.

That's what this "empty div" is for if that's the one I think it is. It is the container for things like branding and annotations.


On the other hand, pretty easy how such a div might trigger a less efficient path; if the video is top in the z-order then it can probably bypass being composited by the browser (and who knows, maybe even bypass being composited by the OS) and avoid a whole mess of rendering to a texture, texturing some triangles, and so on and so forth.


ha, just saw your story over on ars.

FWIW, I think you're a little credulous there; as I mentioned in my other comment[1], I can't find anything stating that Chrome starting beating Edge at the test (their videos actually claim the opposite) or anybody from Chrome boasting about it (articles from the time like yours[2] also say the opposite).

> On the other hand, pretty easy how such a div might trigger a less efficient path

I mean, sure, you can always fall off the fast path, but given how common transparent divs over video are, the battery benchmark should have come with even more caveats. Edge is the most battery efficient browser†!

† for playing fullscreen video††

†† Battery test not valid if the page doesn't use the exact layout youtube used in December 2017. Also not valid if testing vimeo, or twitch, or any porn site, or...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18701430

[2] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/05/edge-still-boasts-be...


I don't think the performance claiming is really the important part here; it's doing something that lacks any real reason but which hurts Edge.

And while I agree that video overlays are common, I also think it's reasonable for such overlays to revert to a slightly less efficient path.


> it's doing something that lacks any real reason but which hurts Edge.

In my own web development activities I can point to hundreds upon hundreds of hidden, invisible, and obscured DOM elements that have no obvious reason to for existing to someone outside the code-base where you find the commen explaining the required work around, browser hack, or legacy constraint. I've also experienced wildly divergent performance on MS browsers compared to others when creating content, often from something as trivial as DOM order or composition.

Clearly Google owes me some money for my part in their ongoing conspiracy to hurt Edge. I'm flexible, I'll accept GCE credit :)


> it's doing something that lacks any real reason but which hurts

Hey, there's a new div in the DOM, the only possible reason for a change like that is so Chrome can advertise about beating Edge on a benchmark nobody cares about? Even though they never beat Edge on it and this "advertising" never took place?

This was the credulity I was talking about. These events didn't happen (you literally wrote the stories plural! about edge winning the benchmark) and the motivations make no sense. I'm not sure why you'd repeat it without even a warning that it may just be a narrative made up from grumblings about fixing a fast path heard third hand.


Speak for yourself, please.

I do care about video playback battery performance. So much so, in fact, that I bought my current laptop specifically so it would last long when watching videos.

Also note that tablets, smartphones, the Macbook Air and the Surface are sold on their battery stamina, and specifically while watching videos. And how would you measure that? Youtube, of course!


> And how would you measure that? Youtube, of course!

Makes total sense, but if you're over-fitting for Youtube's exact layout in 2016, you're eventually going to have to update your optimizations. Sites don't stay the same forever.


I fail to understand how an empty DIV can break a state-of-the-art video acceleration. Why not add another check to remove such empty HTML tags before hand.

Also, what can explain Edge failing to load Azure dashboard - was that a Google bug too? Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zMbfvEHlTU


> Why not add another check to remove such empty HTML tags before hand.

Sure, and they did. And then next month it’ll be something else, and a new check. The next month it’ll be something else yet again, and yet another check. Pretty soon Microsoft’s codebase is littered with checks and guards against the random things Google does, and they’ll still always be a deploy behind. Google could keep this up for years.


That sort of behaviour should be called out and publicised widely.

Given how easy it is to delete an offending div using the dev tools, it would be easily verified by web developers. There'd be a thousand blog posts and news stories saying "Google deliberately sabotages Edge on YouTube" and the public blowback would be pretty damaging I imagine.



These assumptions truly seem as a random conspiracy theory an intern would write who does not have any idea of how a big company of this sort actually works.

Google of today is a collection of disjointed silos which don't work well together or they work together at all. The leadership of those silos is being aggressively staffed by "industry veterans" VPs and SVPs from Oracle, HP, Motorola and alikes. These folks build their little empires, not products. NIH spreads, internal "competition" starts, etc. This story should sound familiar to more experienced people from Microsoft... they've seen this development phase, they know what I am talking about... Microsoft's name for that was "IBM", Google simply calls that "Microsoft". And when you hear "We are not THAT yet" and people have need to say it, you probably turned into THAT.

Anyway, The idea of Chrome being so aligned with Youtube - over such minor gains over Edge - would today be just a wishful thinking. Until some major, major restructuring and changes to their recent corp "culture", Google will simply remain incapable of driving waaaaay more important product development changes across its product surfaces than this.


The developer which added that invisible div responded: https://medium.com/@jeremy.noring/did-google-cripple-edges-y...


That's a developer that added an invisible div.


To clarify, that's to say it's a response by an engineer, but NOT a Google engineer who was involved with YouTube.


That is random conjecture from someone who also did that for completely different reasons on something else. Admittedly so too is the OP's post, with the added (although unsubstantiated) comment about YouTube refusing to change.

As an aside- his points on why Chrome is a monoculture misses the point. Chrome is a monoculture for the same reason almost every other thing becomes at monoculture. It was, at one point, deserving of it as a product. Whether it was naturally the only one or the best. But now, they might not be the best out there. And when they go on to create barriers to competitors and lock-in, thereby making them artificially dominant, that is an anti trust case in the making, if the U.S. Justice Department had any teeth in that area.


That's not the dev that added it, the article is from someone who has done something similar, not someone who works at Google.

It doesn't confirm Google's reasoning for the div


I'm a little skeptical... when an intern claims a single empty div tanks performance from hardware acceleration that is presumably robust enough to handle much weirder stuff, this comment starts to look a bit more like a conspiracy theory account if the demise of Edge.


It sounds plausible to me. Overlaying something onto a hardware-accelerated thing suddenly adds a compositing step to your rendering pipeline, which - usually - requires moving the compositing to your GPU as well, AFAIK.


I just don't buy that any halfway decent hardware acceleration isn't robust enough to handle it. In fact they managed to fix whatever the issue was in a later release, which bolsters the argument that their process wasn't robust enough to begin with. With no other evidence here I'm invoking Hanlon's Razor.


> For example, they recently added a hidden empty div over YouTube videos that causes our hardware acceleration fast-path to bail

Correlation does not imply causation: Yes, it might be true that companies make changes to their products that break stuff somewhere else. But to claim that it is done intentionally is very far fetched. Especially when you have to support so many different environments, it is close to impossible to thoroughly check all of them. Demanding that the performance is good even goes one step further than just demanding the service works.


Self-defense I would call this move of Google: Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a win 10 laptop I should set up for family. As soon as I installed Firefox, windows started bugging me with popups like "We encountered you use an third party browser. This might pose a serious security thread - do you want to switch to Edge?" and stuff about this browser slowing down the system along with urging me to switch to Edge. Microsoft just still exploits its market share - so why shouldn't Google do the same to counter?


>so why shouldn't Google do the same to counter?

Because it's EVIL!

Also, have you tried opening Google.com, GMail, YouTube or Translate in Edge? You are bombarded with prompts to install Chrome. There is no way to disable them, not even when logged in.


These are, however, changes to Chrome and not Chromium, right? Even with a move to Chromium, anyone/everyone is still going to be playing catch up to Google. Having an open source engine means next to nothing if Google plays these kinds of games, abusing its dominant position. Having Edge updates tied to OS updates seems to be more of a problem than EdgeHTML itself, unless there are other issues (and there probably are) in play.


Chrome and Chromium share the same engine, and for this stuff it is the engine that matters.


For now, at least. AOSP and Android "share the same engine", supposedly, but API footprint standardized in AOSP is getting drastically distanced from the API footprint moved behind Google Play Services and other proprietary bulkheads. The number of APKs that run on non-Google Play enabled AOSP builds has dwindled fast in the last few years. (Just ask Amazon.)

What's to stop "YouTube needs Genuine Chrome™ with Google Play® Support Services Installed"?


What's to stop that now?

They could throw up a check and have "Youtube requires Chrome XX.X with the Evil-DRM plugin enabled" live whenever they want. It's the relevant market forces and ecosystem.


Exclusive access is exactly why I switched to Chrome back in the day. When they started offering features like offline Gmail access that was only available on Chrome, you bet I was intrigued. And even today, things like copy/paste keyboard shortcuts on Google Docs only working in Firefox still abound.


This is the feature where you can scroll down during full-screen videos that they rolled out a few weeks ago. Sure, advertising that their new feature performed better on their own browser is kinda shitty, but I really don't care about supporting Microsoft's garbage web platform that I have to run in a VM. If they had Edge on Linux and MacOS I might feel sorry for them, but nah.

Nothing is going to make me feel bad for Microsoft losing market share. This is the company that silently disabled microphone access for Chrome because it wasn't installed via the Microsoft store. I spent a month trying to figure out why my microphone suddenly wasn't working in any of my web apps. As much as I dislike what Google is doing, Microsoft has been doing far worse for much longer.


I have little sympathy for any Microsfot product that gets bullied in this manner. Christ, this has all the oldie hits of microsoft:

- embrace and extend standards - secret apis - advocate for standards, then drop them for proprietary ones - perform hidden changes that make competitors look bad - then tout your advantages loudly

The only thing missing is outright paying people to not support your competitors.

Firefox, however, I feel bad for. Nerd advocacy was partially responsible for Chrome's rise to popularity, but the time has come to advocate for Firefox.


I think it's interesting. Did you investigate why they added that div?


Many "irrational" decisions are related to interactions with anti-bot/anti-fraud logic.

I worked on IE in the days when there were many crazy conspiracy theories about silverlight and IE collaborating to ruin the open web. This sounds similar.


We often use empty DIVs for catching mouse events.


I just started a new job at a MASSIVE international conglomerate. I was literally told that an intranet site I needed to use would only work in IE, and that it specifically would fail to render fields if I used Chrome. It's a little disingenuous to hear these kinds of complaints coming from the company which distorted the browser market so badly that the world is still paying for it 20 years later.


So now it's okay because it's done to an actor that you consider deserving of such treatment? People said such behaviour is wrong, so they changed their act. Why wouldn't you hold others accountable to the same standard? What is the point of listening to the criticism and correcting your behaviour if it will be okay for others to keep punishing you?

Seems counterproductive to me.



Google Maps has been doing something nasty to non-Chrome browsers for several years now -- started about the time of the Great Interface Overhaul.

So, color me astonished, not.


I guess I shouldn't be surprised with how shady Google has been over the past couple of years, but this is still pretty wild, thanks for sharing.


Well why microsoft made IE default browser on windows pc and why SharePoint doesn't work well with non IE browsers and why excel still can't Handel vba loops and why Skype takes few seconds when multiple users ping one user and Microsoft still charges for licensing.. Its the battle to be lesser of the evils


As far as SharePoint goes, the current versions should work just as well (usually better) in Chrome. Should be mostly on par since the 2013 release.

The biggest feature difference for SharePoint cross-browser has historically been with the ActiveX controls. Say you had Word installed, there was a control to open documents with Word. As in, you could click save/view/edit rather than just whatever the browser default was. Or with Skype, to see a user's available/busy/away status next to their name on a SharePoint page. So if you're looking at a wiki or calendar for something, you might go "oh, the author is free, I can just ask." Chrome's plug-in model was much stricter than ActiveX. That's why you'd see some features in IE but not Chrome.


Thank you for posting this.


Antitrust?


didn't MS did the same thing in the past?


and it was ok with drdos and windows 30 years ago. Now let's eat your own dogfood.....


Self-defense I would call this move of Google: Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a win 10 laptop I should set up for family. As soon as I installed Firefox, windows started bugging me with popups like "We encountered you use an third party browser. This might pose a serious security thread - do you want to switch to Edge?" and stuff about this browser slowing down the system along with urging me to switch to Edge. You guys at Microsoft just still exploit your market share - so why shouldn't Google do the same to counter?


The best part of this anti-trust browser conspiracy is that it involves Microsoft — but now, as opposed to the IE dominance in the 00's, Microsoft is the victim. So ironical. How's the taste of your own medicine? :)


> So ironical. How's the taste of your own medicine? :)

How is this productive?




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