Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox version 100 could break some websites

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Chrome, Firefox, and Edge are about to hit version 100, in a triple release that could break some websites. Upgrading to version 100 in the coming weeks may cause bugs or compatibility issues on some websites that are not ready to read three-digit user agent strings. Google, Mozilla and Microsoft try to anticipate big problems.

Mozilla, Google and Microsoft have been warning for months about the next version 100, which is set to drop in March for Chrome and Edge, followed by Firefox in May. Both Mozilla and Google have conducted experiments to test websites and report outages. There is a current list of problemswhich is quite small at the moment, and Engadget Remarks that notable sites affected include HBO Go, Bethesda, and Yahoo.

“When browsers first hit version 10 just over 12 years ago, many problems were discovered with the User-Agent parsing libraries because the major version number went from one digit to two,” says a team of web developers in a Mozilla blog. Much like the infamous Y2K bug that made the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900 for some computers, browsers have different formats for user agent strings, and “some parsing libraries may have assumptions or hard-coded bugs that ignore major three-digit version numbers.

Although there are concerns about some websites breaking, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes – much like what happened to avoid major headaches with the Y2K bug 22 years ago years – so that the transition to version 100 goes smoothly. Developers can enable a special flag in current versions of Chrome, Edge, and Firefox for browsers to flag version 100 and help test sites.

Plans are also in place in case of widespread problems. Mozilla says it will hotfix faulty websites or temporarily freeze the major version of Firefox at 99 if the outages are widespread and unmanageable. Google’s backup plan is to use a flag to freeze the major release at 99, and Microsoft hasn’t detailed a backup plan as far as we can tell.

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