Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Most Compatible With Google Chrome

Catalin Cimpanu (2019, via Hacker News):

A former high-ranking Mozilla executive has accused Google of intentionally and systematically sabotaging Firefox over the past decade in order to boost Chrome’s adoption.

He is not the first Firefox team member to come forward and make such accusations in the past eight months; however, his allegations span far beyond current events and accuse Google of carrying out a coordinated plan that involved introducing small bugs on its sites that would only manifest for Firefox users.


“Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. Gmail & [Google] Docs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as ‘incompatible’,” he said.


“Over and over. Oops. Another accident. We’ll fix it soon. We want the same things. We’re on the same team. There were dozens of oopses. Hundreds maybe?”

It could be nefarious or could simply be that they all use Chrome internally and don’t do very much testing.


There was a period of time when sites pretty much worked everywhere. In the last five years or so, the number of sites that only work in Chrome was risen precipitously. It’s either malice or incompetence, and I have no trouble believing either.

I continue to find less of the Web working with Safari, but so far I’ve always been able to fall back on Firefox.


7 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

In my experience at Google (2010-2018) it's a bit of both. Google *definitely* prioritised their own products, especially Chrome.

If Firefox users feel hard done by, spare a thought for me using Safari back then (when "mobile doesn't count" and Safari on non-mobile was considered a rounding error by most people at Google). Google was- internally - openly hostile to Safari. They really hated it. I can't recall a bug being *intentionally* introduced to break Safari (or Firefox), but once it was determined that a bug didn't affect Chrome, it was immediately deprioritised. Especially if it didn't affect FIrefox (the only "#2" browser they seemed to give any respect to, even begrudgingly).

It's hard for a layperson to *not* conclude that Google was breaking non-Chrome browsers intentionally, though, I can understand. It was a well-known workaround to change the user-agent to mimic Chrome, and then "magically" all manner of bugs would disappear. I think that was more ignorance than malice, though - too many ignorant web developers hard-coding in "if Chrome then proceed else abort" barriers without even checking if something was Chrome-specific (or at least, never going back and rechecking with newer versions of other browsers).

In fairness (in a twisted sense), this is no different to how Apple treated every browser other than Safari, once Safari came into existence. I was using Camino (predominately) when I was at Apple (2006-2010) and it was the exact same story just with the names rotated one position.

I too still encounter websites that don't work anywhere but Chrome, and when I tell their developers I'm not using Chrome, their response is "you must use Chrome". But as a life-long Mac users this is merely fuzzy nostalgia to me - it's no different to how it was with Windows in the 90s.

Paul Rauschelbach

I have not seen widespread or even frequent compatibility issues with Safari. I see performance issues with Google app websites, but the performance difference has become less than it has been in the past.

Do you have some example URLs that do not work in Safari but do work in Chrome? It seems like there should be a resource that lists these if they are a significant percentage of sites. I haven't found one.

I suspect that most problems are stale cookies, sites not correctly implementing HTML specs, using experimental features, or some extension interaction that is causing the failures you are seeing, rather than Safari itself. I exclusively use Safari for my browsing without encountering any problems. I use Chrome for the many work profiles I have, and the destination overlap is remarkably similar. I have issues occasionally with both browsers, but they do not seem site-specific. The standard troubleshooting of disabling extensions, clearing cookies, looking at errors in the console, and the like seems to sort things out.

@Paul Here are some sites with pages that don’t work properly for me in Safari: Comcast, Subway, ChatGPT, Geico, Chase, Citi, BJ’s, Amex, Discover, Board Game Arena, my hospital, Social Security, IRS, Internet Archive, Shutterfly, Subaru, various hotels. I don’t use extensions and have tried clearing cookies and using private windows.

For some reason, Firefox has a much higher market share on desktop in Europe. Germany especially stands out with 17.4% according to Statcounter. I can't remember having compatibility problems recently. Most of the time when something doesn't work, it's because of ad-blocking, not the browser engine per se.

@Michael Tsai
I have not encountered any problems using Safari for Geico, Chase, Citi, Amex, Social Security, or any of my other important sites, on Monterey/Ventura/Sonoma.

Once Microsoft and Opera switched to google's engine that basically removed a strong incentive to build sites that work everywhere.

I love Firefox but the UI, particularly changes to how tabs are displayed, is not great. So Arc (chromium) is what I use for Google sites and others that don’t work well in safari.

Leave a Comment