Users of the Chromium-based Edge browser that access Google Docs in the browser receive an "unsupported browser" notification when they open any document using the service.
Microsoft is working on a new browser that is based on Chromium; the same core that Google Chrome uses. The browser is available as a development preview at the time but it supports more or less the same feature set as Google Chrome.
Google Docs displays a "The version of the browser you are using is no longer supported. Please upgrade to a supported browser" notification when the service is accessed using Microsoft Edge.
The "supported browser" links opens a help page on the Google website that lists Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge as supported.
Why then the message? It appears that Google implemented user-agent sniffing on Google Docs and that the new Chromium-based Edge browser is not found on that list. If you change the user-agent, the error goes away automatically.
Microsoft implemented automatic user-agent switching in the Edge browser, but it does not help in this case because there is no exception for Google Docs implemented currently.
The same mistake happened a couple of days ago with Google Meet, another Google service that suddenly stopped working for Microsoft Edge users.
Google released a statement after the incident became known that the issue was caused by Edge using a new user-agent string, and that the new string was not on the whitelist that the service uses. Google would add Edge's user-agent to the whitelist to make sure that Edge users could use the service properly.
Could it be that the Google Docs incident is just another missing user-agent error?
Even if it is, the number of incidents like this is striking. Microsoft is not the only company that is on the receiving end; Mozilla had to battle with Google time and time again to make sure that Google services would support Firefox properly.
Google displayed notifications to Firefox users regularly asking them to switch to a supported browser. Former Mozilla executive Johnathan Nightingale accused Google of outfoxing Mozilla by torpedoing Firefox again and again.
Mistakes happen, but when you see a sustained pattern of “oops” & delay from this organization - you’re being outfoxed.
It looks as if history could repeat itself, this time with the new Microsoft Edge on the receiving end. Microsoft Edge does some things better than Chrome already, and it could become a force to reckon with once it leaves beta.
Is it possible that a company like Google is making these kinds of mistakes over and over again?
One could argue that support for other browsers is not very high on the company's agenda, especially since Google Chrome is reigning supreme on the desktop and on mobile (except on iOS and Macs).
Now You: What is your take on this? Deliberate intervention, indifference, or just a series of honest mistakes?Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.