YouTube will kill its classic desktop user interface in March
YouTube is the most popular video streaming service on the Web. Over the years, the Alphabet-owned company has redesigned its desktop user interface multiple times. In 2017, the desktop version of the service received a major redesign based on Google’s Material Design principles, including the use of more white space and bigger fonts. The redesign also included new features such as a dark mode (which arrived in Android in 2018) and better playback of portrait videos. It first started rolling out in March 2017, and received a wider roll-out in August of that year. The interesting thing was that YouTube still retained an option for users to disable the new YouTube interface and switch back to its classic desktop UI. In fact, it was the default option on other web browsers for many months, until they were switched to the design incrementally. Now, the company has announced that it will kill the classic interface in March 2020.
Users who are still using the classic desktop interface will now get a notification that tells them to “Switch to the new YouTube”. The notification will also mention if their current browser is compatible with the new YouTube. YouTube’s reasoning for killing off the classic UI is that older versions of YouTube are missing “many of the new features and design improvements [that the company] has introduced over the past three years, including top requests based on [user] feedback”. The company also says that users may need to update their browser if it’s not compatible with the new version. The exact date for the transition was not mentioned.
It’s worth noting that the new YouTube design has a history of performing poorly in non-Chromium-based browsers such as the old Microsoft Edge and Firefox because of its reliance on a deprecated shadow DOM UI (it used Polymer 1.0 instead of newer versions such as Polymer 2.0 or Polymer 3.0). Specifically, it could even perform five times as slower in Firefox and Edge than in Chrome. The new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge has no problems with the new design, as expected. Users of older browsers that were still using the classic UI will have no choice but to upgrade their browser now to keep using YouTube, as it doesn’t seem as if any workarounds will be available to keep using the old UI. Therefore, the march to a Chromium-dominant web will continue.