Edge, Firefox and Chrome are about to reach their 100th version. For some websites it is a problem

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Do you remember when the year 2000 was approaching and many feared that computers would “go crazy” due to errors in handling dates? If you’re not old enough, you may have heard of this phenomenon as the “millennium bugNow, a similar situation, but on a smaller scale, could be at hand. major web browsers are about to reach their respective version 100which could cause some web pages to stop working properly.

According to the update schedule for this year, Google Chrome will reach the dreaded version on March 29, Microsoft Edge will do the same in the week of March 31 and Mozilla Firefox on May 3. But why would going from a two-digit to a three-digit version number cause problems? The origin of the matter is in the User-Agent version reporting mechanisms through which the servers of the pages and web services identify the browsers.

A problem that could be mitigated

To understand this, let’s take Mozilla Firefox as an example. If you use this browser, the text string that it returns to the servers when they ask you to identify yourself is similar to the following: “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:97.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/97.0“. As we can see, a lot of information about the device is sent, but what interests us is the final part “Firefox/97.0”, that is, the one that indicates that it is version 97 of the browser.

Now, when Firefox, which is the one we take as an example, reaches version 100, the final part of the User-Agent text string will show “Firefox/100.0”. This is completely logical and should not represent any problem. However, there are web pages and services that are not prepared to interpret three-digit versions. In these specific cases, they would understand that a user with Firefox 10 is trying to access them.

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Consider what would happen if you tried to browse a web page with a browser that hasn’t been updated in over a decade. Possibly many sites -or part of them- do not work. This is precisely what could happen in cases where the browser version cannot be correctly identified. However, web developers use different techniques to parse the User-Agent string, so the magnitude of the problem, according to Mozillacould be limited.

Browser developers have not stood idly by and have been working for months to mitigate the problem. Mozilla will include a mechanism that, in the event that a web page does not work with version 100, will reload and identify itself as Firefox 99. It will also offer an advanced solution of freezing the browser version. Google Chrome will opt for the latter option. Users can use chrome://flags to tell servers that they are at a lower version.

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Do you remember when the year 2000 was approaching and many feared that computers would “go crazy” due to errors…

Do you remember when the year 2000 was approaching and many feared that computers would “go crazy” due to errors…

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