A new Effect 2000 will affect all browsers, many websites could stop working

21 years ago, the Effect 2000 anticipated a kind of End of the World that, fortunately, did not happen. It was the turn of the millennium, and due to a computer whim, January 1, 2000 was going to be interpreted by many computers as the year 1900, which could cause all kinds of failures in nuclear power plants, control of traffic lights, banks, shops…

In the end, nothing happened, because everything was patched on time, but itcaused real anxiety in many people.

Something similar is going to affect all browsers: when they reachversion 100, which will happen shortly, thousands of websites could stop working. Why is this happening?

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Although different browsers have been released on different dates, interestingly the most important ones are about to reach version number 100.

For example, Chrome recently released version 98.0.4758.102, and Firefox released version 97.0.1 today. Chrome will reach version 100 on March 29, and Firefox on May 3.

And why is this particular number so important? Well, simply… because it has three figures.

Apparently, as happened with the 2000 Effect, computer scientists are not very good at thinking in the long term. Websites work without problems when the browser version has 2 digits, like now, but many crash when the browser reaches three digits, as will happen with version 100.

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As Techspot explains, the reason is that when a user tells the browser that they want to visit a certain website, the browser sends a connection string that includes the version of the operating system being used, and the browser version.

Something like: Firefox: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.15; rv:96.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/ 97.0.1. You have more information here.

This is done because sometimes websites load different versions depending on the browser or operating system, due to compatibility issues.

Mozilla has carried out a simulation launching requests to random websites with version 100 of its browser , and has found numerous pages that do not work. Among them important websites such as Yahoo, Bethesda, HBO, or Slack . It is adding these websites with the bug to this list, and advising their webmasters to fix the bug.

Google is doing the same thing, and also has a page open with the version 100 bug. But There are billions of web pages, and it is impossible to test all of them.

Several solutions are being considered, such as delaying the release of version 100, or using another numbering that maintains the two figures. We’ll see what happens when the time comes…