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Why the arrival of Chrome 100 and Firefox 100 is shaking the internet

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[EN VIDÉO] The first computer bug in history
Computer bugs are as old as the computer itself. The first bug in history dates back to…1947. Since then, malfunctions affecting our devices have been commonplace, and some have had disastrous consequences.

Updated almost monthly Firefox and Chrome will soon celebrate their 100e version. Currently, Firefox is at its 97e version, while Chrome has already passed the milestone of 98e version. Which means that at the current rate, in the spring, both will blow out their 100 candles. Barring any setbacks, it’s scheduled for March 29 for Chrome, and May 3 for Firefox.

However, it will not necessarily be a party for some site editors… Indeed, Bleeping Computer reports that Mozilla has already anticipated this move to version 100, and the problem is that some of the most popular sites no longer work! And not least since our colleagues report that Yahoo! is no longer displayed, just like the Eurosport player and Slack. Instead, an error message explaining that the browser used is not supported by the site. The full list of bugs is available on this page.

A three-digit problem

The reason for this hiccup compared with that of the bug de l’an 2000 ? This three-digit number: 100. Indeed, when you access a website with a browser, from a computertablet or mobile, the server needs to identify it to correctly display the site. This is the function User-Agent (u.a). It detects the browser editor (Mozilla, Safari, Opera…), its rendering engine (AppleWebkit, Gecko) and therefore its version.

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Depending on the “identity card” of the browser, the server returns the most suitable version of the website. For example, if you are surfing from a mobile, the server will display a version optimized for mobile, and not a thumbnail version of the version for computer. The problem is that this function was not designed for three-digit numbers.

Incidentally, it wasn’t originally designed for two-digit numbers either, and when browsers first hit version 10 a little over 12 years ago, many problems had been discovered, and quickly corrected. At the house of Firefox, as with Chrome, we therefore anticipated the problem and many tests are in progress; on the side of Google, we assure that most of the malfunctions have been corrected. But, as some remain, it is necessary to find an unstoppable parade.

Two parades planned

So each browser’s developers have a plan B as Mozzilla writes at his blog. At Chrome, it consists of adding an indicator to set the version to 99 and report the real major version number in the so-called “minor” part of the string User-Agent. Virtually, it would be version 99.100, while waiting to find a permanent solution.

On the Firefox side, the strategy is different since you can correct, on the fly, the site that is not displayed. Basically, when the server fails to render with version 100, the renderer automatically switches to version 99.

And Edge in all this? Like the browser Microsoft is based on Chromium, the same engine used in Chromeit will also be affected by this bug, and unless corrected by then, it could therefore upgrade to version 99.100 to avoid any problem.

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