Chrome remains under (unprecedented) attack from all sides this year, and now Google has confirmed a new problem that Chrome’s two billion+ users need to know about.
Google revealed the news via its Chromium Bug tracker, the codebase for Chrome, confirming that the browser’s next major landmark release is set to break a number of websites around the world. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
The problem boils down to version numbers. The official build of Chrome is currently on version 96, while ‘Chrome Canary’ — the early access developer build — is already on version 99. When Chrome hits 100, affected websites will stop loading.
The reason for this is these sites check the version of Chrome visiting the site, but website design software like Duda only check the first two digits. The check is for security reasons to stop older, unsupported versions of Chrome from visiting (version 40 and older is a common cut-off point) and Chrome 100 will be read as ‘Chrome 10’ and blocked.
Finding a fix is tricky and time is running out. From the perspective of website owners, many will not know they are affected until it is too late with potentially significant fallout. From Google’s perspective, Chrome also continues to race through version numbers as the company develops its browser at a breakneck pace. For example, Chrome 95 only launched in October.
The Chromium Bug tracker tells us Google is currently experimenting with a hack to alter how its version numbers are displayed and locking ‘99’ into the first two digits. But this is a messy solution and testing is still being done on how effective it is in practice.
All of which means, Chrome users need to brace themselves for disruption or find another browser until the problem is solved. Based on Google’s current release rate, Chrome Canary users could be facing this decision as soon as next month while the billions of users running the browser’s stable version are looking at a 3-6 month countdown.
As if Chrome and Google didn’t already have enough problems.
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