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Google’s Chrome browser could soon break your favorite websites – Here’s why

Technology evolves at a blistering pace, turning gadgets or software released only a few years ago into relics of the past. When you stay with the old, you risk your privacy and security. Getting upgrades as they roll out is ideal for your digital health.

For example, Apple recently said certain older models of the iPhone won’t be able to use the new iOS 15 operating system. That means users of outdated phones are missing out on new features as well as cybersecurity updates. Tap or click here for a few reasons why you need to update your iPhone.

Don’t forget to update your browser, too. They’re constantly updated to be safer, more secure and easier to use. Watch out, though: An upcoming Chrome update could wreak havoc on certain sites and make them unusable.

Here’s the backstory

How many of us can forget the panic caused by the Y2K bug? Before the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, computer users worried that their systems might not be able to handle the date change from 1999 to 2000.

Many feared that sophisticated systems wouldn’t be able to distinguish the last two “00” digits in the year 2000 from that of the year 1900. When the calendar eventually rolled over, very little happened. That was partly thanks to great planning from IT administrators and software developers.

Google is now on a similar, albeit less concerning trajectory. The tech giant’s Chrome browser will soon be going into version 100, and rolling over from two to three digits could potentially cause problems with older websites.

When you visit a website, the page checks which browser you are using and the version through what is called a User-Agent string. Older websites can easily comprehend a version number up to 99, but once it goes over that, the page can fail to display.

What you can do about it

As a Google Chrome user, you should always keep your browser up to date. We’re expecting Chrome’s version 100 to release in March of 2022.

When it comes out, you should update it as soon as possible. That’s because those releases, if nothing else, typically include important security updates.

Web developers will have to make sure older websites will still be compatible with Chrome version 100. To try and get ahead of the curve, Google released a handy tool for website owners. It’s a quick and easy way for them to see if their sites will be affected.

Starting with version 96 until version 99, Google is making a feature flag available that forces your browser to mimic the version number to 100. Here’s how to use it:

  • Visit Google’s website Is Chrome 100 yet? to check if your browser is mimicking version 100.
  • If it isn’t, you should use the feature flag to inspect your own website. A big “No” pops up on the screen.
  • Open your Chrome browser and type chrome://flags in the address bar.
  • A page will open with available experiments. Enable the option for Force major version to 100 in User-Agent.

After you enabled it, return to the Is Chrome 100 yet? site. If successful, the green “Yes” will be visible. From there, you should visit any websites that you manage or develop to see if they will be compatible with the triple-digit version.

There could be several issues with your website or any other sites that you visit regularly. For that reason, Google wants you to send in any bug reports about version 100 so that as many websites as possible can be prepared.

🚨 What it means for you

This update shouldn’t cause the majority of your favorite sites to malfunction, but Google has a challenge ahead in alerting every potential developer of websites that could be adversely affected.

✅ If you run an older website and are concerned that Chrome 100 could cause it to break, enable the browser flag using the directions detailed above to check.

✅ While Chrome is by far the most-used browser around the globe, remember it’s not the only option. Tap or click here to see our rankings for the best browser when it comes to your privacy.

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