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Chrome Quiet Experiment Crashes Thousands of Browsers and Annoys IT Administrators



Google left thousands of machines in companies with broken Chrome browsers this week after a quiet experimental change. Business users who access Chrome through virtual machine environments like Citrix continued to see white screens on Chrome's open tabs, blocking browser access and leaving it unresponsive. This has left many IT administrators confused by the issue, as companies often manage and control Chrome updates.

After complaints, Google was forced to reveal that it had launched an "experiment" on stable versions of Chrome that had altered browser behavior. The experiment was conducted silently without administrators or IT users being warned of Google's changes. Google simply turned on the flag to enable a new web content occlusion feature designed to suspend Chrome tabs when you move other apps on them and reduce resource usage when the browser is not in use.

"The experiment / flag has been in beta for about 5 months," David Bienvenu, Google's software engineer, explained in a Chromium bug topic. “It was enabled for stable (for example, m77, m78) through an experiment that was sent to Chrome on Tuesday morning. Before that, it had about one percent of M77 and M78 users for a month, no problem reports, unfortunately. "


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Google reversed the change late on Thursday after several reports from businesses with thousands of affected users. "I will reverse the launch of this experiment and try to figure out how to deal with Citrix," noted Bienvenu in the error topic.

"This had a huge impact on all our Call Center agents and we were unable to talk to our members," explained a Costco IT administrator for the Chromium segment. "We spent the last day and a half trying to figure it out."

An IT administrator who alerted The verge For the question said: "We feel it is an obscure thing that Google can quietly update Chrome without announcing anything and can impact over 100,000 people on a whim." These concerns are reflected by hundreds of replies in the Google Support forum, the bug tracker topic, and on Twitter and Reddit.

This has angered IT administrators for wasting valuable resources and time trying to fix problems in their environment, and wondering why Google decided to make a silent change to Chrome in the first place. "I'm impressed with your response," said an IT administrator in response to Bienvenu's confirmation of the issues. “Do you see the impact it has created for thousands of us without any warning or explanation? We are not your test subjects. We are running professional services for multi-million dollar programs. "

We contact Google to comment on Chrome issues and will update you accordingly.


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