Version 100 of Chrome, Edge, and Firefox may break some websites

nanoguy

Posts: 1,198   +20
Staff member
In brief: Reaching version 100 should be a milestone for a web browser, but it's actually an event that could break some websites for people who use Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Mozilla's Firefox. Developers have been preparing for this moment for a while now, but they still need help.

Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox are all inching closer to the release of their 100th version. While this may look like a nice round number to a user, it also has the potential to introduce bugs or create compatibility issues for certain websites.

For some people it may even bring back memories of the infamous Y2K bug and Microsoft skipping Windows 9, but this time around the issue is related to how websites read user-agent (UA) strings to identify your web browser and its capabilities.

When you visit a webpage on a site like TechSpot, your device sends a request for that page that includes a user agent string that looks something like this: “Firefox: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.15; rv:96.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/96.0.

Different web browsers have different formats for this, and due to the way some user-agent parsing libraries work they may cause issues when reading three-digit major version numbers. For an in-depth read on what implementations cause this, look here.

Back in August 2021, Mozilla started an experiment to find out if three-digit version numbers could cause issues, and found that a small number of websites wouldn’t display or work properly.

Notable examples including Yahoo, Bethesda, HBO Go, Slack, and more are added to the list every day. Google has a similar ongoing effort that allows developers to force the v100 user-agent string for testing purposes. This revealed that websites built with Duda wouldn’t display correctly, but the issue was fixed in December 2021.

The good news is that Google and Mozilla are both working on ways to mitigate any potential issues that may arise, for example by freezing the major version to 99 and reporting it in the minor version part of the user-agent string.

Chrome 100 will be released on March 29 and Firefox 100 will land on May 3, but in the meantime website admins and developers can help by reporting any issues they encounter to Mozilla and Google.

Permalink to story.

 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 694   +1,089
At least for the user agent string, it shouldn't be used heavily by websites. Instead, you can test features with JavaScript in order to determine whether to support them. Anyone relying on the user agent string to collect much data is just asking for problems to happen and should be expecting to maintain that code in the first place.
[F]reezing the major version to 99 and reporting it in the minor version part of the user-agent string.
This should work nicely. Anyone actually checking the version number in the user agent string can just update their code if they need it to report accurately.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,422   +2,404
Like Y2K, I'm not worried.
I mean, we are talking about the most popular browsers on the planet here.
 

umbala

Posts: 603   +1,007
Yeah, maybe they should've thought of this problem before they decided to bump the version number of their browser every two weeks. Name another piece of software that's at version 99 or beyond? Soon we'll be running Chrome v847.8962.9534
 

umbala

Posts: 603   +1,007
Like Y2K, I'm not worried.
I mean, we are talking about the most popular browsers on the planet here.
Right, right. Remember when Netscape was the most popular browser, and MySpace was the most popular social media site, and ICQ was the most popular messaging app? Being the most popular of something right now is meaningless in the long run.
 

MaestroIT

Posts: 87   +88
I hope this can be fixed once and for all, we don't want the world to come in 2036 saying if browser version > 2^32 sites will crash !!!
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,539   +4,484
TechSpot Elite
Yes, it's totally the browser's fault if coder monkeys can't distinguish a number from a string, a world where 100 < 99.
It's not that simple. Websites use what tools are available and it is very hard to get browser versions since there isn't a standard for it (User-Agent strings are the wild west). What happened is that a long time ago these checks had to be hardcoded and now they need to update that part of the code. The strings not only vary from browser to browser but also from device to device.
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,124   +1,736
Yeah, maybe they should've thought of this problem before they decided to bump the version number of their browser every two weeks. Name another piece of software that's at version 99 or beyond? Soon we'll be running Chrome v847.8962.9534
And when we cross from 999 to 1000!