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Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy

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Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy
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Google has been shutting down services like crazy since Larry Page took the reins as CEO last year. Some are killed with little noise. Others are killed with a great deal of backlash. Remember Super Poke Pets?

People using background images on their Google homepages are about to experience a big loss, and some are going so far as to say they’ll be changing their homepages or even changing their primary search engines. Did you use background images on your Google homepage? How will you proceed? Let us know in the comments.

Google announced in September that users would soon no longer be able to upload pictures with Classic Plus, which had let them upload or select images to use as a background on Google.com. The company said at the time that this would begin on October 16, and that the service would be completely turned off in November.

Now, people using background images have been getting the following message, with an exact date:

Background images are going away on November 16, 2012

Thank you for using background images. As we build a more streamlined Google Search page for everyone, we’ll no longer be able to support customization with background images. So you will no longer be able to see your background pictures starting November 16, 2012.

Click Remove to stop using a background image now. Your current background image and Picasa web albums will still be available to you.

So, next week, these users will be faced with new choices to make. Do they still want to use Google as their homepage? Do they want to use another search engine altogether? It just so happens that Google’s competitors are making some other new homepage-oriented changes. Bing, for example, launched a new download feature for their daily homepage images (which were arguably already one of the best parts about Bing):

Download Bing home page image

This all comes at a time, mind you, that Bing is making significant moves to increase its share of the search market anyway. In the UK, Google has already fallen to its smallest market share in years.

Yahoo should be launching a newly designed version of its homepage pretty soon:

Yahoo Homepage Redesign
Image via All Things D

Earlier this week, Google users began taking to reddit to vent their frustrations. At one point, the top post in the Google subreddit was: “Google, for the first time ever, you disappoint me,” which was about the notification. This was followed by:

The Google search page is discontinuing support for background images. I use a black background, because I hate being assaulted by a bright screen. So, I’m gonna use this instead. …easier than a greasemonkey script. (ca.blackle.com)

Another reddit user commented, “As you may or may not know, Google is set to drop background personalization on the main search page for people with Google accounts. I can’t figure out why (although I would like to know), but I can say that the personalization was a bit more than having a cool/cute picture when I googled. While I like the Google branding, my eyes just can’t stand the bright white page. The personalization allowed me to put a very simple black picture, and thus saving my eyes. What are your opinions on the subject?”

Another user responded, suggesting Stylish (Chrome / Firefox which lets you install themes and skins for Google and Facebook.

Earlier this year, Google also upset a number of users when it announced that it would shut down iGoogle, its personalized homepage product.

Pissing off users by shutting down products is something that Google seems to be doing more and more of in recent years. Why is that? Well, we’ve heard Page’s spiel about corporate focus in the past. This past week, Google’s Matt Cutts took a shot at explaining it himself. While he was not talking about the Google homepage, specifically, his comments were interesting (though unofficial).

“In my experience, Google is pretty good about trying to explore the space. We want to try out new things. Unless you’re trying things out – like if you’re trying to ski, and you never fall – then you’re not really pushing yourself hard enough,” says Cutts. “So we do try out a bunch of different ideas. At the same time, some of those ideas are not going to work out.”

When you can see that a particular project is “not going to succeed,” he says, it might be time to put those resources (machines or engineers) into a different project. Sometimes, he says, something just doesn’t get enough traction over time.

“It can also be the case that maybe you build a product, and then the internal infrastructure that we use changes over time…evolves,” he says. “I like to joke that the half life of code at Google is about six months. If you wait six months and go back to a particular section of code, like half of it will have changed. So there’s a lot of stuff going on internally under the hood to make our systems better at Google, but if you happen to fork off, and you’re on a strange little evolutionary path, so to speak, and then after a while people are like, ‘Oh, that is three generations behind our current technology, and we don’t even know how to get back to where we were before,’ then sometimes it’s easier to think about shutting down that project or rewriting it with newer technology or folding that functionality into a different thing.”

“It’s not malice,” Cutts says.

I don’t know if the explanation will make users feel any better about not being able to use Google they way they want to anymore, but at least it’s something.

Interestingly, Google’s homepage doodles, as Google showed this past week, can provide for good opportunities for Google to promote its products like Google Shopping (product listing ads), Google Books and the Knowledge Graph.

Do you care about Google homepage background images? Are you satisfied with Matt’s explanation about why Google shuts down products? Share your thoughts in the comments.

lead image via eltictac (reddit)

Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy
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  • dgs

    Who needs a large wide screen with almost all bright white space almost blinding them and a tiny search box in the middle.
    It isn’t a little thing. You took away my unique great background picture.
    Yeah, the picture helped tone down the visual space … Google is trying go the way of Netflix and New Coke, bad decisions that doesn’t care about the users.
    Well, we let you know our displeasure and we just may move on to BING

  • Francis

    Well it’s just ugly now is’nt it so it yahoo to you

  • dgs

    I switched to bing …it’s beautiful a new pic daily

    http://www.bing.com/?FORM=Z9FD1

  • i

    Goodby Google

  • choco

    I really love google and my background image… that’s why when I saw that google background will go away.. I can’t help but be frustrated and disappointed at the same time.. I hope they will put it back
    TT^TT

  • jay

    Not at all happy. Still cannot find any explanation for Googles’ decision to take away our background images. Am not even able to find the one I was using as promised by Google. Funny how the BIG conglomerates seem so easily to be able to give with one hand and take with the other.
    Hope someone out there can tell me how to get ANY picture onto my Google page??
    Jay

  • Frank bowers

    bad move google. How to p*** off your supporters. Listen to us us out there, after all we put you where you are today. (at the moment)

  • Grace B Thomson

    I am looking for a new homepage. I will not use Google anymore as
    a default.

    • J. H.

      I have closed all my gmail accts today and have removed google from my bookmarks. I’m pretending google doesn’t even exist anymore.
      I’ve had enough from them and to think, it used to be my favorite. Wow.

    • http://googlechrome david mccreedy

      no background!! moving back to to Orange,Google now SUCKS!!!!!

  • Aja Youth

    I too will be changing my home page. I appreciated the back ground images on google, it was nice and something special…but now :-(…..There goes my Pleiades background image.. It was awesome.

  • Mark

    Sorry google, I’m off at least Bing looks more attractive! I wonder if Bing offer email services? and yes I am prepared to change my email address over this!

    Why have they changed? What was the problem??

  • http://google bob

    if google is getting rid of backgrounds,,,,,i will changing to BING!,,,GOOGLE YOU SUCK NOW!

  • george

    sucks. i loved the background images. i’m going to bing now.

  • Lamott

    Well see this is why i like Bing, it has a changing background with facts about the picture. Google never went out of it’s way to do that. I loved my background image. Only thing Google really had was its logo which it changed based on holiday and birthdays. SO I’m going back to bring. I already use it on my Windows Phone and iPod

  • Savannah

    I’m very frustrated with Google. I loved the background images, and I don’t see the purpose of them taking that away from us. I loved the fact that you were greeted with a nice image whenever you got onto the computer. I used to change it every week to a new picture, but now my Google page it a boring plain screen. No color, besides the word Google. I’m very disappointed. :(

  • http://macaroni.com Mackaroni Cheese

    I may change, google… you fucked it up, or just use the URL bar in chrome

  • Caroline

    I tried Fast Dial but the bookmarks wouldn’t load, so I guess it will be Bing for me. I’m happy to change my enail account too, I already have 4 anyway!
    When you want to make Google your homepage, they still tell you one reason to use them is you can “personalise your homepage”. Not anymore, Google, keep up with your own crap!!!
    Goodbye Google, hello Bing!

  • Caballo Loco

    I am so upset google!!!!!!! I love horses and that was my google background picture. I wish I could under line the word was. I hate white screens and so now I am saying this. BOO YOU GOOGLE YOU STINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The main thing with the background images was that people didnt know you had them. put back the background images!!!!!!! If you don’t i am so switching to bing and tell everyone I know to do the same Goodbye google and hello bing

  • Marty

    In reference to Google removing background images and other features that many of us have grown to like and become accustomed to, all I can add is that Matt Cutts explanation is typical for a geek puppet and the CEO has his head up his you know what. Point is, change is good only if it improves upon what’s already there. On the other hand, pissing off customers in implementing changes or should I say while experimenting with Google Chrome is analogous to Detroit auto makers many years ago, who unlike their Japanese competitors, essentially overlooked the desires and needs of their customers in designing automobiles. I for one like and have become accustomed to using background themes (as opposed to all white) in using Google Chrome and as such I am seriously considering making FireFox my default browser.

  • http://www.sdgwebdesign.com SDGSteve

    You guys are nuts, moving to an inferior search just because of a background image you probably look at for a few seconds a day? Put it on your desktop, I didn’t even know you could set a Google background image, who cares? It’s a tool, I don’t buy hammers based on whether I can change the colour of the grip.

  • Aky

    i don’t really understand how a simple background image (even if millions of people are using it) is going to have a huge impact on Google’s resources. ok so the background images will have to be stored somewhere at google, but i’d gladly give up a few MBs from Gmail or the new drive to have a simple background image.
    i currently use 2% of the available space in Gamil, i know that some pepole may need a lot more, but i highly doubt that the average person needs more over 10GB (and growing) of space.

  • http://Google Adrianne

    PLEASE bring back google backgrounds. i will be changing my search engine until its back. thank you.

  • http://google Anthony Costanza

    How about what customers want! I love my back round and you took it away. I will be looking for another search engine. Remember what happened to Coca Cola ? Why hurt your customers. Well, I will hurt you in the pocket then.

  • Don

    Like others, not happy with the lost of background images. I too am thinking of switching to a different search engine then Goggle. I feel the the “few” of us that like something better than bright white to log onto. In streamlining as they say, how can so few of us “effect” the overall performance as they say they what to achieve. It was the one thing that I felt made my computer mine in this Internet world. I hope some geek out there comes up with a script that we can install to change the backgrounds on our own. Please restore it, or I too am gone!!!!

  • http://googlehomepage Shawn

    I hate the new white homepage!! Please bring back my photos!

    • http://Google Beryl

      Want my Ryan Adams background image back! Am on meds and mornings are the worst. Your whiteness is just too much. Which stupid moron decided this? And what other search engine supports background images? This upsets me am gonna lay down…Help?

    • Jerry Johnson

      Google just pulled off a republican,under estimate your market.We have other choices and I will use them.Something as simple as a background couldnt cost as much as loosing the support of long time supporters.Welcome to the new we will abandon you if there is no reason behind your cause.I am now a Democrat and a Bing user

  • mac

    There are hopefully reasons that make sense once the users of Google know what they are. If it is a personal choice by the CEO then…….wow! Thanks for the personal dictatorship. What’s next? a reduction of font size? Smaller viewing screens? If you are going to take something personal away that you have offered people, you owe them a reasonable explanation. Not just because “I SAID SO!” That was never a good parenting technique, nor a consumer friendly means to win over the people you want to use your product. Perhaps you are looking for a public relations director?

  • steve

    Sorry but Google have got it wrong …I am going to another search engine now after umpteen years …something which has more than a boring white screen…

  • Pink

    On a business standpoint, they probably want to just tone down to relevant simplicities and wipe out all of the unnecessary stuff. Though I and many others would certainly would miss the backgrounds, even though I think we’re only the minority. I would assume majority of google users could care less though. Hence they pull the “toning down” trigger.

  • Annie

    I would like to have a back ground nice picture for back ground on google–This is a shame to have something so tacky as the one I have now –I would like to be able to put a nice pic on google or I am thinking about changing..

  • Shoddiest

    People just plain don’t appreciate having something that allows for personal expression shut down. MISTAKE.

  • Scott

    Google keeps talking about “evolving” their systems and feature set. Evolved systems do not lose functionality with used features. I quietly dealt with disappointment during the iGoogle Feature loss. I rely on the Background images to tell the difference between Google Accounts – school, personal, etc.

    In general, an idea I like to live by, “It is ALWAYS OK to gain superpowers, but it is NEVER OK to lose superpowers.”

  • Erik

    Count me as another who switched search engines after this. I just used a black background because the white is just terrible. So far most of them aren’t great, but I don’t want to have to use yet another FireFox extension. And if this is how they choose to treat their customers, I definitely won’t be using Chrome either. Not that I liked it that much to begin with, too dumbed down imo. Even if they bring it back, if this is how things are going to be, I can’t say I’m going to trust them moving forward. May not seem like a big deal, but it is. Lost another customer Google, great business decision.

    • Neil B

      It IS a big deal. Those of us who use Google all day everyday are not impressed.

  • Ron Fonoimoana

    I’ve already changed my home page and search engine to Bing. Big mistake Google.

  • Neil B

    I used to love my amazing background of an hawaiian sunset over water, now i have white to look at. L A M E! it is 2012, we are supposed to go forward, not backward.

  • http://www.gmail.com loved u google..m hurted

    i loved ur name too …..loved google doodles much..but u made a very wrong decision…plz cum back soon otherwise it will be too late…i still wantto say to any1 plz search on google…but now u hurted me alott…..bye bye…:”(

  • http://www.gmail.com plz come back…still

    none other search engine is good as you..plz cum back..i stil;l love u..love da backgroud images….dis is makin me sick..and who da hell man decided to make dis ridiculous decision…bing is not so gud..its lyk GOOGLE IS WHITEWASHED…

  • Gunide

    I’m pretty annoyed at the fact i cant put my background on. Just when I was about to upload a picture I had made, I realized I was unable to do so.

  • Tamaz

    I feel sick… why do they do this?! As I guess soon there will be a thousands of commercials all around on the Google homepage instead of my image :(

  • sabas

    i was using google as my default home page. since they went back to the old, classic, boring page, i use yahoo! now as my homepage.

  • Dave

    WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS? SO STUPID! NO LONGER USING GOOGLE AS MY HOMEPAGE I USED GOOGLE BECAUSE OF THE PERSONALIZED BACKGROUND!! STUPID STUPID MOVE GOOGLE..

  • SURVIVOR

    YOU IDIOTS BACKGROUNDS MAKE A COLL DISPLAY TO LOOK AT WHEN YOU ARE WORKING AND IT BRINGS THE SEASON TOGATHER.

  • Stephen L. Hanger

    What to Hell..Google was the best..it seems like someone inside Google it trying to destroy Google Maybe someone inside Google in making big money Betting Google Stock will fall.
    Google Chrome is Dog Shit. Now Google Back Ground is Gone. What-ta-Fuck ???

  • totochto

    I am among the VERY dissatisfied about this Google “improvement”. I have vision problems and the overly bright default Google page used to cause a lot of difficulty until I discovered background images. As soon as I can find another search engine with the image search capability that does not cause Google-blindness I plan to abandon Google for good. I refuse to keep my screen on super dim just for Google.

  • DeeAnn Gardner

    Now that the backgrounds have been pulled, it makes the site no better than any other. That feature made the Google/Chrome experience fun. Instead it’s as plain as anything. Absolutely not a good business decision.

  • Anjar S. Indonesia

    Wrong Decisions Wrong Moves, you said its because not many people click it or few people even look or try it..YOU DAMN WRONG GOOGLE!!! First time I used google i found its so simple with those white background screen and thats what makes them different and addicted..then when Bing comes out we find it quite cool with those changing background pics,eben though they aren’t good as you are when it comes on searching, then you come out with those ideas too(Background pics)…thats great coz now we know life isn’t about those 24/7 of boring simple white backgrounds. We love you google thats why we stick with you all the times…then with those ridiculous answer even though its not an official explanations, but now we know your stupid decisions, its dumb. Its back to its old fashioned background again..WHITE n BRIGHT..Damn now we know and relise that we have missed many good days and years its all because those white boring backgrounds. We stay with you its because you can deliver the right informations that we wanted..but the lack of personal background, damn you gonna lose many loyal fans there Google! People not only browsing around, we wanted to have the most personal things infront of our screen(pictures and screen shot that makes our days),not that fucking white boring stuff.
    I’m thinking of changing to Bing just wandering is it now as good as google when it comes on searching stuff we wanted to find on the internet..its your lost Google!

  • http://z9it.com fookraa

    i will stop using google, and will probably switch to yandex or bing !

  • sora

    Use this add on / plugin for chrome

  • janet

    Why did you stop the google backgrounds! I hate that you did!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wiley T Mefford

    What are you thinking…??? Taking away the background images !!! Stupid!!! I don’t want to stare at a blank page…Keep the backgrounds. Maybe “BING” ain’t so bad after all!!!!!!!!

  • http://google Ramona Loza

    im sooooo sad about google backgrounds going away. I used to change mine every week to give my daughter a new fresh internet expierience. We both will miss the amazing images. I would really enjoy them back :) the white back drop is soo boring. I would hate to have to change search engines :(

    • L. Silas

      SAME HERE GIVE IT BACK

  • L. Silas

    I Love the backgrounds……A blank screen is BORING !!!!!!!!!!!

    Give them back