Why Your Next Browser Update Might Break Your Favorite Sites

Upcoming Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browser updates may break several websites and the problem comes down to version numbers.

The updates coming soon for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox can break some websites and the reason is version numbers. Computers are wonderfully fickle devices and small changes can have big effects. The end result is that some popular websites may not know which browser is running after upcoming updates.

It only takes a brief dip in the history of computing to begin to understand the problem. The first computers filled entire rooms and if a moth connected the contacts inside, the computer would malfunction – due to a bug. This was the legendary beginning of the term “computer bug”. Modern computers are more reliable, using silicon chips instead of vacuum tubes, and a bug now usually refers to a programming fault.


Related: How to set Google Chrome’s homepage to your favorite website

Two popular web browsers, Chrome and Firefox, will soon hit version 100. At times like this, there’s usually cause for celebration. Just like someone having a birthday that causes their age to end in a zero, adding a zero is also big news for computers, but the important detail is the number of digits. The previous 90 updates had double digits and MozillaComment recently pointed out that some websites may not be prepared for this change. BeepComputera security-focused news website, pointed out that HBO Go, Bethesda, Yahoo, and Slack are some of the websites that have been identified as currently having errors at version 100. It’s like Y2K yet another times.

Problems with Chrome and Firefox 100

Windows 11 laptop with Chrome and Firefox icons on it

A User agent (UA) is data that a web browser shares with each website to inform it of the features it is capable of. Here is an example of UA Chrome: ‘Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/94.0.4606.54 Safari/537.36.’ The relevant detail is the number following “Chrome /” and “94” can be easily extracted by code by entering these two digits, sometimes all that is needed to find out if a browser can support a particular video streaming format. When version 100 is reached, the first two digits will be considered version 10, a very old version that wouldn’t handle much more than text and images.

Google Chrome is expected to reach version 100 on March 29, 2022, followed by Mozilla Firefox on May 3. This same issue arose when browsers upgraded to their tenth version, so there are better preparations this time around. Google and Mozilla will mitigate the issues by changing the UA version to double digits for major websites that haven’t updated their code, but it won’t be done for less popular websites. Problems will inevitably arise until developers start planning ahead for these types of problems. Waiting for, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox will try to take over.

Next: Firefox makes it easy to bypass restrictions and switch browsers in Windows 11

Source: Mozilla, BleepingComputer

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