Chromium-based Edge error with Google Docs – a cautionary sign of things to come?

Google Docs for G Suite
Image credit: Google/Apple

Chromium-based Edge users have apparently been hit by a fresh glitch when using Google services – in this case, the online word processor Google Docs.

Some folks running the preview of Microsoft’s revamped Edge browser who have popped over to Google Docs have been confronted by an error message informing them: “The version of the browser you are using is no longer supported.”

The message also advises switching to a supported browser, and to rub salt into the wound, one of those supported is Microsoft Edge (the original version of the browser exclusive to Windows 10).

There are a few things to note here, though. Firstly, as Reddit users who got the message point out, it doesn’t actually affect your ability to use Google Docs – at least not outwardly. You can (reportedly) simply carry on as normal, although there is a possibility that other users may run into problems elsewhere.

As Ghacks reports, this is seemingly a mirror of the incident that happened with Google Meet last week, whereby the messaging service stopped working with Chromium-based Edge. This was due to user-agent sniffing, which detects the browser being used, and because the new (still in preview) Edge isn’t whitelisted – after a recent change to user-agent details – it got blocked.

And by all accounts this is the same thing happening with Google Docs, and so nothing to really worry about – merely a temporary hiccup. Although the two incidents coming back-to-back has (inevitably) caused a certain amount of conspiracy-related chatter to break out on the net.

No malice

Still, this clearly isn’t a purposely malicious move – after all, Google Docs supports the original Edge browser anyway, as noted – but it has raised some eyebrows in terms of these mistakes coming closely together, and the efficiency of Google’s responses.

As Ghacks further observes, Mozilla has complained in the past about mistakes caused by Google which have disrupted its Firefox browser, and the slow resolution to some of those issues.

Of course, Microsoft’s new version of Edge is in a different situation anyway, being in the Chromium fold – but what happens if the new Edge suddenly starts gaining some major adoption and user numbers after its official release?

Naturally, only fringe elements are going to stray into conspiracy theories which touch on the realms of potential sabotage, but if Edge starts to look like it might threaten Chrome with its popularity – and Microsoft’s browser has already made a promisingly positive first impression with many users – the more cynical would argue that Google won’t really have much incentive to prioritize helping to sort out issues with what could become a major rival.

If nothing else, we have to remember that the main reason Microsoft chose to shift Edge to Chromium is to benefit from much better compatibility with websites, and better overall reliability – and these early glitches give pause for thought as to the reality of how the stability of Chromium-based Edge will play out down the line.