Web browsers are about to face a Y2K-type problem2022-02-17 19:27 by Daniela
Tags: browser, Mozilla, Chrome, Safari
Google Chrome and Firefox could be facing serious technical problems in the near future that would not be unlike the Y2K problem from the end of the last century.
For younger readers, Y2K was a software problem in the late 1990s. Most computer programs at the time couldn't properly read four-digit year dates, and the transition to the year 2000 caused some of these programs to work improperly.
As Chrome and Firefox both approach version 100, a blog post by Mozilla's Karl Dubost, Chris Peterson, and Ali Beyad has explained that issues may occur when browsers parse user-agent strings containing the three-digit version numbers.
There are also plans in place if there are widespread issues. Mozilla says it will either hot fix broken websites or temporarily freeze Firefox's major version at 99 if breakages are widespread and unmanageable. Google's backup plan is to use a flag to freeze the major version at 99, and Microsoft hasn't detailed a backup plan as far as we can tell.
It should be noted that the websites themselves won't break, but rather how the browsers render them. Safari is only on version 15, so it won't be an issue for users who run Apple's default browser.
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