Chrome, Firefox, and Edge are approaching version 100, which could break some websites during the joint release of the three major browsers.
In the coming weeks, the move to version 100 could lead to bugs or compatibility issues with some sites that aren’t ready to read three-digit user-agent strings (UAs). Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft are busy trying to pre-empt any big problems.
For months, Mozilla, Google and Microsoft have been warning about the impending release of version 100, with Chrome and Edge both due in March and Firefox in May. Both Mozilla and Google are conducting intense experiments, testing mainstream sites and reporting glitches.
A list of issues that are being organized has emerged, but is now fairly small, with well-known sites affected including HBO Go, Bethesda, and Yahoo:
“When the browser first hit version 10 12 years ago, as major version numbers went from one-digit to two-digit numbers, many problems with user agent parsing libraries were discovered,” a team of web developers at Mozilla wrote in a blog post explained.
Just like the infamous year, 2000 bug made the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900 for some computers, browsers have different user agent string formats, and some parsing libraries may have hardcoded assumptions or bugs that don’t take into account the three digits The major version number of the number.
While there are concerns over some website crashes, a lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes — like what happened 22 years ago to avoid major problems with the Y2K bug — to make its transition to version 100 smooth.
Developers can enable a special flag in current versions of Chrome, Edge, and Firefox to make the browser report version 100 and help test sites.
There are also plans in place if broad issues arise. Mozilla said that if the glitch is widespread and cannot be dealt with, it will either hotfix the faulty website or temporarily freeze the major version of Firefox at version 99.
Google’s backup plan is to use a flag to freeze the major version at 99, and as far as we know, Microsoft doesn’t have a detailed backup plan yet.