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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  • kate

    Google says they are updating but they are just degrading!!!!

  • Mr. Fred

    I used to have an awesome photo of a New York Giants NFL helmet as my background, and now I cant have that as a personal setting? Bloddy flipping bollocks!! Its so boring and plain now :(

  • bob

    i would like it if they could elaborate on their idea of “streamlined”…

  • http://google James Connors

    I do not like bare naked google, I liked having photos on my google homaepage also google has had problems with videos and opening new tabs I have started using firfox

  • http://GoogleChrome Brian

    Very disappointed with the removal of google background themes.


    I really dont like that guys face…. Face it, what this douche wants is what goes, simple as that…..

  • kathie henderson

    After trying for over an hour to download my old homepage picture, and without any luck, I searced to find out why it happened. I so dislike Picassa. So, I am not going to Google much of anything anymore, and find another search engine. I enjoyed my picture of Howth lighthouse as my background and dislike the bright white page. So, goodbye, Google.

  • Matt

    Google is too white. They have a white fetish. It’s really really boring to look at. I too liked my background personalization.

  • Derrick G.

    After Nov 16 I have still been using Google as my home page, but i still think “WHHY GOOGLE?!” every time I get on the web… I will never forget the date a great sadness hit the earth… There is the dream that it will come back though!

  • Gail Morfis

    I hate not having my google page image. Everything google does dissappoints me. Bring back our ability to have an image or background on our google page.

  • http://google diane leo

    I loved the old background pages. the new format is downright ugly and unappealing. can’t you do something!!!!!

  • Kweh

    All I can say is, why?

  • Marissa

    UGHHHHHHHHHH I HATE GOOGLE NOW!!! I hate this stupid bright white background! I want my background images back!!! WHY DID YOU TAKE THEM AWAY!!! I WILL NOT BE USING THIS PAGE ANYMORE!

  • tiigdrswa

    I indulged them in their little obsession with blank boring white everything. I have now blocked everything on the search page except the input box and search button using Adblock’s element hider. I’ve been using Adblock to knock off everything on Google pages that I hate (which is mostly everything these days). If blank boring sterile is what they want, fine. Lets take that to the max.

  • Roy

    I’m done aswell with google search engine, hopping on the bing boot since it offers you more customizing i dont know why google is being so stupid but i dont care theres a lot of competition so yeah :)

  • Jack Ulrichs

    Google is exercdising more and more control. Not good. Forced to use a different browser (such as bing). Jack

  • sally hill

    I used a photo for my Google search background, but now have wasted hours trying to find where it went…

  • http://Google Jamie Thornton

    Who Evel Decioed to Take Away Google Themes They Should Lose Thear jod
    I Wist They Would Put Them Back on Google,

  • Kanne Earl

    Bite me I want to ability to customize google if not bye bye .

  • Wyn Francis

    Tis is madness. How much money is being saved.The google graphics always add a little interest to my day (ok, sad)
    the musical string guitar graphic was magic
    Who are these out of touch people?


    I have also wasted ton of time. Unable to find it :(

  • Steven

    Rather moaning that Google has taken away a precious feature (I never used it) why don’t you consider using a custom style-sheet to define personalisation for any particular page you want not just Google pages.

    Not a difficult task, a little CSS knowledge and inspect element features found in web browsers will be required.

    Opera for example allows you to specify custom style sheets for any given site. There are add-on’s that provide similar functionality for Firefox and I expect the same will be true for Chrome. IE? blah lets pretend it does not exist life is better that way.

  • BIB

    I’ll never be the same without my Google background! I hate how it’s so plain now – what a huge disappointment. D:

  • matt

    Im going to have to build my own google search home page so im not blinded by that stupid white screen! My choice is black. Google has been pissing me off as of late and ive been a big fan for years.

    a new ceo is in order!

  • Tom T

    I made my home page yahoo. Set it up with everything I had on Google
    and changed my search to Bing using IE 10. Love it.

  • http://Google Steve Ball

    Very, very disappointed with Google decision to eliminate background pictures. I may consider using another website search engine as well and I have been loyal to Google since it first came out.

    • Avery

      I know right!!!!!!

  • http://googlechrome funkybeads

    Want my pictures back instead of a blank page with google above search box, then when some dead person from absolutely years ago, who no has heard of pops up. When people are suffering from excess snow some little animated snow scene pops up. Why ? why do they think we are interested or do they they think they are doing us a favour. No they are they far too controlling – do not want to see their little scenes, give me back my web page

  • meem

    I was dissapointed 2, but i designed my own goole page with my backgrounds and also put a link where i can change the background at will, change my home page on my browser and am happy. Any1 can do it.

  • chantelle

    This sucks that the pictures from google

  • meisam

    google background is good and i love google background
    i don’t want the blank page that looks werid
    you know google bcakground is very cool than w white page
    please change it to the old way

  • http://www.mushroomart.co.uk Christine Thwaites

    I’m not sure if this is relevant to your thread but it concerns images being used as wallpaper by Bing. As an artist selling work online it is very disconcerting to find every single image taken from our websites and uploaded to a wallpaper site with no request ever having been made to us. Yes there is a note saying the copyright remains with the originator of the art, but it doesn’t feel ‘right’ from our side.

  • Wilma Lummiss

    I waited & waited ,hoping the background pictures would be back. Maybe another search engine is needed. In my opinion the pictures were a hell of a lot nicer than the stupid blank white page we now have to look at.

  • arvin

    i hated it when they dont aloow us to customize the background image in google. i want it back again.

  • simon

    I see google have now closed the option for a .com search if you are not in the usa – this is really poor as i used this option quite a bit. i may well move away from google

  • http://google Shanna

    Will be switching to BING because I love being able to put my pics on my homepage.

  • skip

    moving to yahoo

  • Amy Rippy

    Why you removed the available background wallpaper choices doesn’t make sense, and the feedback proves it.

  • Daniel Elliott

    I hated it when Google took away my iGoogle page. I had made it just what I needed. Then I got this blank nothing page from Google that I had to hunt for the hidden icons to do what I needed to do. Hide n seek anyone? Then Google started filling the white space of my home page with graphics. Most were just stupid some downright offensive (like the Rorshalk test ones) and the Oct 31 one. I wish I could put up my own graphics and prevent their google adds. I am seriously thinking of changing my home page to Bing or something else. Google as stopped listening to us folks and now is just using us.

  • R Warren

    Very annoyed, the person that made this decision should be sacked, and Google reminded, it’s not them that makes Google it’s us.. Because we choose to use it..

    Goodbye background images, and goodbye google…

  • http://Google Elke Herold

    Very upsetting that I can’t pesonalize my Google home page anymore!!! It’s so boring looking at a white screen all the time. Can’t they do something??

  • Lynda

    I personally like creating my homepage. CHANGE IT BACK!!

  • clip

    I have a brain injury and before choosing google I tries a couple other search tools and I found the earlier layout version of google prier to November very easy and neatly layed out with allot of options to easily add to the home paige and when I opened it up my stuff was right there ready to use with little or no navigating to find it but since sometime in November it all changed for the worse now google is no better than the others maybe worse i will have to explore the others to see bad bad google and with no back ground picture its boring too

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