Microsoft Edge: How to make Google play nice

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 16, 2016
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google, Microsoft Edge

If you are using Microsoft Edge occasionally or as your main web browser all the time you may have noticed today that Google started to serve older versions of its site to the browser.

If you visit for instance using Microsoft Edge, you get a black bar at the top which you don't get when you use Chrome, Firefox or the majority of other modern browsers.

On Blogger, Edge users may get a "your browser is not supported" notification, and Google Play does not even display a search bar at the top which renders the site nearly useless for users connecting using the browser.

Google uses scripts that detect the browser user agent to serve different versions of sites to users. This makes sense if justified by the capabilities of the browser as it does not make sense to provide functionality to a browser that is not supported by it.

Google Homepage

google microsoft edge
Microsoft Edge gets an old Google Homepage layout
google edge fake user agent
Microsoft Edge gets the new layout masquerading as IE11

Google Play

google play broken edge
Google Play broken in Microsoft Edge
google play with search
Google Play working with Edge masquerading as IE11

While you could assume that Microsoft Edge does not support one or the other feature that would justifies Google's singling out of the web browser, there appears to be no technical reason for delivering different content to Edge users.

If you change the user agent of the Edge browser to Internet Explorer 11 or Chrome, and visit Google's main web page, Google Play, or Blogger, then you will notice that all the functionality is there as it should be.

Microsoft Edge masquerading as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer 11 gets the same content delivered as those browsers and it works equally well from a user perspective.

Search on Google Play is displayed suddenly again and it works, and the main Google frontpage of the Internet uses the same layout as the one delivered to Chrome or IE11 suddenly as well, and again without any noticeable issues in regards to the layout or the functionality provided.

Changing the user agent in Edge

You can change the user agent temporarily in Microsoft Edge. Once it supports extensions, it is likely that a user agent changer extension will get released for the browser which allows you to set a different user agent permanently.

Do the following while on the page that delivers different content to you or is seemingly broken in Microsoft Edge.

  1. Tap on the F12 key on the keyboard to open the Developer Tools.
  2. Switch to the Emulation tab.
  3. Select a different agent under "user agent string".

The page is reloaded automatically when you select a new user agent from the list of available strings.

Microsoft Edge: How to make Google play nice
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Microsoft Edge: How to make Google play nice
Find out how to customize the Microsoft Edge web browser so that you can access all functionality on Google Search, Google Play and other Google domains.
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  1. Alex S. said on March 17, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    This is an example of someone taking an insignificant thing and making a big deal out of it. I don’t see any “black bar” on Google’s main page, in Gmail, in Drive, or on Google Play – and I never have. I am certainly no fan of Edge, but it irks me when someone who decides he or she has to add several posts to his/her blog every day – regardless of the quality of content – and end up posting garbage like this.

    1. Gary D said on March 17, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      @ Alex S.

      Well Alex, you could stop reading Ghacks “misleading” “overblown” “garbage” blogs, epecially the ones about insignificant things like Win 10 telemetry.
      You can always venture into the big wide Internet world and seek out the truth about all things Microsoft.
      Oh, I know. You can go and read Ed Bott’s blog and learn all the secrets of the universe as well.
      I mean, dear Ed never, ever, fails to tell the truth and, in between flaming other blog sites, only ever comments on really important things ! He never writes garbage !? :-)

  2. Fito said on March 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I have never seen a black bar when browsing Google sites with Edge. Maybe this is only the case in some countries?

  3. Finnen said on March 17, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Weird. I just checked, launched Edge and opened Google Search and Google Play. Everything works fine, I don’t have older versions. My user agent is set to default (Edge).

  4. pd said on March 17, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Haha this is a classic.
    THE biggest website in the world still codes it’s sites using shitty, amateur hour browser detection. That’s the biggest calamity when everyone has been doing feature detection for years.
    The second biggest joke, a very big and close second, is how they simply haven’t updated that shitty code to cater for Edge despite Edge having been in production use for over many months.
    Caught with your pants down boys!
    It’s very amusing to see all the brains in the plex and all the endless resources and they still make fundamentally simple mistakes.
    It’s quite lucky we have several credible organisations promoting the open Web who can actually put their code where there mouths are because Google sure has a medoicre history of standards support when authoring their own site.

  5. mike said on March 17, 2016 at 9:21 am

    @T J: Sorry but you seem to see this backwards. Google seems to block out Edge, not the other way round. Extensions are totally irrelevant here, as are the layoffs.
    You seem to be bitter towards MS but this seems simply ignorance or eve malice from Google

    1. T J said on March 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm


      Did you read my post? Did you read Martin’s article?
      It may have been malice on Google’s part but why should Google support Edge which has not been developed very much since its release? I prefer to see it as indirect pay back for the underhand way in which MS has been treating Win users for the last year with regard to telemetry, botched updates (1511 springs to mind) , BSOD, program and driver deletion, etc. Let’s not forget the recent news about non support of Intel chips.

      Extensions and layoffs are very relevant. How can a browser be released without supporting extensions? If MS had not decimated the software teams by sacking the most experienced employees, Win 10 and Edge would have been VERY much better products. Users, Enterprise and otherwise, would be singing MS’s praises.

      I am not bitter towards MS. I am pleased and happy that MS released Win 7, and, before that, XP. Both have very user friendly Desktops and easliy implemented features.

      I find it laughable that people like Ballmer and Nadella can be paid obscene amounts of money both for screwing up the future development of MS and for generating HUGE amounts of negative feelings and publicity against Win8/8.1 and Win 10. These are the best CEOs that MS could find !?

  6. D. said on March 17, 2016 at 12:08 am

    I’m not sure where the priority is for them with Edge right now. It does not look like it is way up there or has been. I guess we will see as time goes…

  7. Tom Hawack said on March 16, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Santa Claus is not a myth. Over at Firefox’s AMO there’s a developer proposing an add-on to read your page from Firefox to Edge. I promise it’s true, go and check!. Amazing, “awesome” like they say in the States. Merry Xmas!

  8. Jackson said on March 16, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Just Google being Google..again. It’s like someone at Redmond ran over a Google Grandmother or something.

  9. T J said on March 16, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    This is MS’s own fault. Edge has been bundled with Win 10 for 8 months and the MS development team still has not released any viable extensions.
    It looks like Google decided to have some fun, wind MS up, and make Edge look rubbish.
    Probably I should not approve of Google’s dirty tricks but MS has been pulling dirty tricks on Win 10, Win 8 and Win 7 users for 8 months.
    Maybe Nadella wiil decide to re-hire the software developers and testers he fired. If he had kept them on, Win 10 and Edge would be fit for purpose and not unfinished, unpolished, software. This is what results from allowing cost cutting bean counters make crucial decisions.

    Schadenfreude ! :-)

    1. KS said on March 16, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Where did you see that MS laid off developers working on the Edge browser?

      1. T J said on March 17, 2016 at 12:25 am


        Browse the Internet and you will find the info about the lay offs. It was before Win10 and Edge BUT the knock effect on software development and support would have caused problems with 8/8.1 and 10. The people fired were the most experienced programmers and software support engineers

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