Three-digit version numbers of Chrome and Firefox called a threat to the work of sites


Three-digit version numbers for Chrome and Firefox called a threat to website performance

Developers of Chrome and Firefox browsers, which will soon reach version 100, have warned that it could cause incompatibility with some sites. It turned out that because of the way the User Agent identifier is handled on some sites, they don't take the three-digit version value correctly and consider the browser unsupported.

When a browser visits a web page, it passes information about its type and version, as well as its operating system, in the form of a User Agent identifier. This allows the owners of the site to collect statistics, including incorrect operation in specific browsers, and to provide a version of the page adapted for a particular browser. Many services also use User Agent to warn users about possible incompatibilities or to block access altogether. Sometimes this leads to artificial incompatibilities, like Google Docs after switching from Edge to Chromium.

Developers of Firefox and Chrome browsers said that they have encountered a new problem related to User Agent. The thing is that both browsers will reach version 100 in the spring, which means that the User Agent will use a three-digit value instead of a two-digit value in the appropriate place. Not all of the site scripts designed to handle this identifier were ready for this change.

By putting version 100 in the User Agent, the developers of both browsers found different problems on some sites, including the major portals: Slack, Yahoo, HBO Go, and T-Mobile. Depending on the site, the pages exhibited different bugs. For example, it turned out that Slack compared the version of the user's browser to the supported ones not as a number, but as a string, so the service considered version 100 to be earlier than 52, and enabled compatibility mode, which actually broke some interface elements.

In both browsers, the developer versions included a feature to display version 100 so that users and testers could help browser and site developers prepare for spring releases. Just in case all the bugs can't be fixed in time, the Chrome and Firefox teams are considering temporarily stopping at version 99 and displaying the actual number after that number, such as 99.101.4988.0, where the actual version number is 101. However, they also note that so far they have not found very many incompatible sites, whose developers have been quick to meet and fix the malfunction.

Similar problems have occurred before. Specifically in browsers, a similar situation occurred when many of them switched from a single-digit to a double-digit version. The "2000 bug" was more widespread, with some electronic systems from a wide variety of fields being unprepared to record dates in the new format. We discussed this in more detail in the article "The End of the World. Translated with (free version)

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