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Google Software

Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-get-what-you-get-and-you-like-it dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: In an apparent move to push those using older browsers to update, Google is reported to be serving outdated search pages to said browsers. The older pages lack features available on the newer versions, and this policy compounds with the limits announced in 2011 on Gmail support for older web clients. As a Google engineer put it, "We're continually making improvements to Search, so we can only provide limited support for some outdated browsers." The BBC offers a fairly comprehensive analysis.
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Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers

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  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fisted (2295862) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:00PM (#47812583)
    Yes! Where? I want it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You could have Opera fake your User Agent header in order to masquerade as an older browser, but the Opera team dropped that and every other feature that made Opera remotely useful when they decided to turn Opera into a rewrapped version of Chrome.

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:36PM (#47812913)

        That is why I am still on 12.17. Works well and does get security updates occasionally. For the very few pages that do not work, I can always use FF.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The problem is that the "old" search page is

          a) Not the last version that worked with that browser, but the "ancient" version designed to work with NCSA Mosaic
          b) Still powered by the modern backend and so subject to their modern requirements like tracking every clickthrough and what query it came from. Without scripts to help, that means that every search results in a different URL for the same result hit, so no purple links indicating where you've already visited. Makes it intensely irritating if you need t

          • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

            by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:20AM (#47814789)
            I tried it (by setting the user-agent of my firefox to "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; rv:1.7.3) Gecko/20040914 Firefox/0.10"), and I'm delighted. Image search works again and it feels faster too.

            I didn't notice the problem you're mentioning about link visited being broken. I searched twice for myself, the first time I clicked on one of my links. After the second search, that link was correctly colored purple, as it should. However, I did notice a small delay before it turned from blue to purple.

            And there are no tracking cookies or similar inserted into the links, just the plain links. Overall a good experience :-)

            I didn't check though whether the results were maybe outdated (newer pages not listed...), that would be nasty...

            • And there are no tracking cookies or similar inserted into the links, just the plain links. Overall a good experience :-)

              ... however, the normal site (for "recent" browsers) does insert tracking cookies.

              I didn't check though whether the results were maybe outdated (newer pages not listed...), that would be nasty...

              A test with google news shows that this is fortunately not the case, it shows news from within today. So if it is outdated, it's certainly outdated by less than one day.

              • And even Google Webmaster tools still works with the "old" browser user-agent string. However, in webmaster tools, it doesn't dump the javascripts yet, unfortunately :-(
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You could have Opera fake your User Agent header in order to masquerade as an older browser, but the Opera team dropped that and every other feature that made Opera remotely useful when they decided to turn Opera into a rewrapped version of Chrome.

        I use PrefBar all the time to switch User-Agent on Mozilla (Palemoon).

        I vastly prefer the old-and-busted Lynx-style Google Image Search. If I'm looking for an image macro of a cat, I want the sidebar with the URL that actually goes to thefuckinglolcat.jpg, not

        • Please, Google, do continue to not "improve" the experience for "older" browsers. I've had all the UX "improvement" I can take.

          Well said! I fullheartedly agree, and set the user agent of my firefox to version 0.10: the experience is a breeze! And yes, it even prevents google from inserting its own tracking into some of the links...

    • Yes! Where? I want it!

      Second that. I currently use Proxomitron to filter out all the unwanted (by me anyway) crap on Google's home page (instant, preview, sidebar, link redirects, etc...) and have to use "nosslsearch.google.com" to avoid https (so I can use my filtering proxy).

      Yes, I know I can use Startpage and/or DuckDuckGo, but they're not as fast as hitting Google directly. Seriously, for simple searches, 99.9% of the time the JavaScript and crap (et al) on all these search pages (like Google and Bing) is a complete bull

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        to avoid https (so I can use my filtering proxy).

        That's a terrible idea. You are aware that using a proxy with HTTPS is entirely possible, right? Set up the proxy to automatically generate trusted certificates using an internal CA key, import the proxy's CA key as a trusted CA, and go to town. I've used both Fiddler and Burp in this way, and I'm sure lots of other software supports it too (automatically, even). Make sure the proxy still performs cert validation and warns you if the validation fails (it shou

        • to avoid https (so I can use my filtering proxy).

          That's a terrible idea. You are aware that using a proxy with HTTPS is entirely possible, right? Set up the proxy to automatically generate trusted certificates using an internal CA key, import the proxy's CA key as a trusted CA, and go to town. I've used both Fiddler and Burp in this way, and I'm sure lots of other software supports it too (automatically, even). Make sure the proxy still performs cert validation and warns you if the validation fails (it should do this by default).

          There. Now you can have your filtering and secure it too.

          Why is it a terrible idea to do google searches in the clear? Who honestly gives a shit?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            > Why is it a terrible idea to do google searches in the clear? Who honestly gives a shit?

            Even if no one gives a shit, the more encrypted traffic becomes the norm rather than the exception the more secure we all are. Kind of like how high gun ownership rates improve the safety of non gun owners too (well, at least the white ones).

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            Lol what, flamebait? Some mod was very confused...

            Anyhow, it's a terrible idea *in general* to use HTTP for anything that is by default over HTTPS. Various reasons include:
            1) As mentioned by other posters, we should be increasing the total encrypted traffic, right that decreasing it. Hide everything, even if you have nothing to hide. No good comes of letting everybody between you and Google (and their domestic or international spymasters) observe your traffic, but some harm may come of it.
            2) Actual security

        • Actually, Proxomitron can handle https, you just have to know how to set it up: http://www.proxomitron.info/45... [proxomitron.info]
    • by JMJimmy (2036122)

      Yes! Where? I want it!

      A thousand times this... I'd even take their old search algorithms over their latest "guessing" and "missing terms" crap. In all the time I've used Google I've never had to use anything beyond +/- and "" to find what I wanted... now it's a mess of buggy "search tools", constantly having to switch to "verbatim", a mass of exclusion terms, etc. It's become an absolute nightmare to use. Unfortunately there's no competition to turn to (I've tried the top 6 alternatives, they just can't compete except for Bin

      • I'd love to be downgraded to the old style google search where verbatim meant verbatim instead of "there's a synonym nearby". They've made google scholar almost pointless because matching exact phrases is extremely important when you're searching for something specific.

        I guess the solution is some sort of federated search dongle that submits the search query to google, gathers the results, and throws out everything that isn't actually verbatim or otherwise matching the search query.
  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:00PM (#47812591)
    So, I can get good old Google back by spoofing IE6?
    • Other solutions? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kludge (13653) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:07PM (#47812675)

      But you will miss out on all the bloated javascript bullshit if you spoof an old browser.

      If only getting rid of slashdot beta were that easy....

      • by J'raxis (248192) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:23PM (#47812813) Homepage

        I have NoScript enabled on Slashdot, too. Only way this site is remotely usable, just like Google nowadays.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I use Classic with Javascript enabled and it's fine. What unbearable interference is it causing for you?

        • Also a NoScript user... I actually don't even know what /. Beta looks like as I have never seen it! :)

      • Slashdot Beta (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gargleblast (683147) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:36PM (#47812915)

        The last remaining problem I had with beta.slashdot was its turning up in google results. I solved that with Firefox redirector [mozilla.org] and this rule:

        Include pattern ... *-beta.slashdot.org*
        Redirect to ....... $1.slashdot.org$2
        Pattern type ...... Wildcard

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Awesome! I already had the redirector installed to make all NYTimes pages come up with pagewanted=all, it never occurred to me to use it on Buck Feta!

          FWIW:

          Include pattern ... *nytimes.com/*pagewanted=1
          Redirect to ....... $1nytimes.com/$2pagewanted=all
          Pattern type ...... Wildcard

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      If this means I can get iGoogle back, I'm rolling back my browser immediately.

      Can you imagine, it's been 8 months and there's still no really good replacement for iGoogle?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        netvibes.com

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Netvibes doesn't come close to the functionality of iGoogle. I suppose it might be useful at the enterprise level, the way they're selling it, but it's just not as good.

      • by ohieaux (2860669)
        Been using netvibes as a replacement. It imported my xml export of igoogle and that built about 20% of the old page. I've got it about 60% serviceable. Much of the content is in embedded webpages and that seems to work OK.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:12PM (#47813753) Homepage Journal

          I've got it about 60% serviceable.

          That sounds about right. I tried netvibes for a few months after iGoogle went away and finally just gave up and use Awesome New Tab in Chrome. Unfortunately, you can't make Awesome New Tab the home page. You can make it come up automatically when you start Chrome, but not when you click the little house.

          I've stopped missing iGoogle like I used to, but I'm still kind of pissed.

          Seriously, it was a dick move that iGoogle went away. The problem with the igHomes and the netvibes is that they can't integrate all the google services as well as google. On the bright side, with all my futzing with iGoogle replacements and unsuccessfully trying to recreate iGoogle, I've come to understand more clearly how much of Google services' functionality comes from them invading my privacy. So now I use Epic browser and startpage.com and actively seek to thwart google wherever I can, at least in regard to my participation in its "business model". Sometimes, I use Tor browser just to be a dick to people who want to upskirt my private life. Not that there's anything interesting in my private life, but apparently, there's something there good enough that Google was willing to give me all sorts of free shit just to get a peek at my undies. Fuck them.

          I came to understand that when somebody gives you something nice for free, and they're not related to you in some direct personal way, you should be suspicious as hell and look for the catch before putting out your hand. Of course, many of you have long understood this, but I had to get hit over the head with it because I'm a little slow.

          • Protopage gives me 90% of what iGoogle gave me before, plus a few newer features. Works most of the time with google calender and mail. Haven't tried it with other Google services.

    • by ugen (93902) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:54PM (#47813659)

      Yes, and that's precisely what I've been doing. Firefox + UAControl = score :)

      I get to use normal-looking and convenient Google maps (instead of the recent monstrosity that shows up in Safari and other "current" browsers)
      I can easily remove trackback links (because Google returns them in plain text to IE6 but goes to great lengths to obfuscate them for current browsers)
      And otherwise Google looks clean and neat.

      This is one feature of Google I happen to love :)

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:16PM (#47812743) Homepage

    This is supposed to motivate me to upgrade? Right now, on the rare occasion I use Google,* I have JavaScript completely disabled to make Google (search, image search, and news) actually work the way I want it to in my browser. If they're going to help with this by serving me their older---read "cleaner, simpler, faster"---search page, I say, thanks, Google!

    * Google alternative [startpage.com]. They use the Google index but don't track their users.

    • by houghi (78078)

      I have a link to the seperate 'older' versions that I want to use. Also use it for the search bar:
      https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?output=classic [google.co.uk] to see the old output by default
      http://images.google.co.uk/images?q=linux&sout=1&tbs=isz:lt,islt:4mp as search in the searchbar, where here linux is what I am looking for. 4mp is the size of larger images.
      If I could use something like that for Bing, I would start using Bing for image searcgh as I hate, out of priciple obviously, that Google filters my images

  • It will be interesting to see how this affects me. I'm typing this on a current version of Firefox, but I have an old HP notebook by my bedside that runs 24/7 and that I use, among other things, to check my mail in the morning. The thing is, I dare not keep the Firefox browser current, and I'm using a plug-in that I depend on and is only available for Firefox. I don't keep the browser current because, even though I doubled the memory the laptop had when I got it (to the maximum that the old MB would support

    • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @08:03PM (#47813035)

      I dare not keep the Firefox browser current, and I'm using a plug-in that I depend on and is only available for Firefox. I don't keep the browser current because, even though I doubled the memory the laptop had when I got it (to the maximum that the old MB would support), and also replaced the minimal hard drive with a significantly larger hard drive

      Why not virtualize this system instance? Then you don't have to worry about updating it or hardware failures. I have a piece of legacy software at my work we still need but that I've largely virtualized because for arcane reasons I cannot install it on new computers. Then I can give it as much RAM as I want. Works pretty well if your hardware is vaguely modern.

      I have to say though that I've been using Firefox since before it was called Firefox and I've never had problems like what you describe. I'm on the latest version and it runs roughly as well as any other browser including Chrome and IE and Safari. I prefer Firefox mostly for personal workflow reasons but the others work fine too. I tend to avoid Safari on Windows an IE obviously isn't available outside of Windows so I tend to avoid it when possible.

  • runs better than your Windows 95. gourd head, Google. don't do evil.
  • I want to search, as long as that works (and Google has not very good search anyways, just the largest database), I don't care one bit.

    • Because it doesn't work the same. images.google.com, for example, is noticeably worse in "retro" mode. (1) less images (and those in the old spaced-out-grid display), (2) less images vertically, (3) and when you click on an image, you go to the web site (i.e. you are not given the choice to just load the image).
      • by gweihir (88907)

        Not an issue. Really. Things work fine for me. Of course there are always those that focus on minor things and blow them up to be disasters. I see Google just as a tool, and not a very good one at that. Whether it is a bot worse or better is immaterial.

  • You mean I can get direct links in results instead of redirects, the old and better functional maps & image search etc just by (pretending to be) using an old browser? That would be amazing, I'll try it out now! Also, hear that Slashdot? Google is showing the way, "force" users to upgrade their browsers by NOT serving the beta to them!
  • I've already mostly given up on Google for images, because as a resident of North America, I can't completely disable "Safe Search".

    I don't spend a lot of time looking for pron, but neither do I want my search engine eliminating some results because there might be a stray breast in the background of images I'd want to see.

    TFA indicates there's a lot of problems with what they're serving to people using older browsers...it's much more than just a reversion to the old Google search page (which I loved, b

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      Ahem...

      Search users are not Google's customers.

    • Looks like I'd better start looking for a new default search engine, because I have no intention of moving past Firefox 22, thanks to that insane new interface they're cramming down people's throat.

      You're missing out: the new firefox is substantially less memory hungry than the old one. As for the interface: the classic theme restorer works well. The only thing missing is the menu bar (with the odd thing on the right hand side). Overall given my screen (1024x600) and how much I use the menus (rare), that's

      • by hyades1 (1149581)

        Thanks for that information. The last I heard, the Classic Theme Restorer wasn't working all that well. I think I can live without the Menu Bar.

        Cheers!

  • I have a bookmark to a static copy of the Google start page from the era when it was starkly simple - none of the goofy javascript nonsense that infests it nowadays. If the returned search pages are just as "outdated" - well, that's even better.

  • There's a problem at Google right now... it's Y2K search engine is superior to the one that they're offering today. I don't mind the including of AdWords sponsors, but the way they're bossing around the non-shaded parts of the screen is getting to be troubling. Additionally, the major content providers are bossing around Google Search.... I think we need a fresh crawl of the Internet by somebody else.

  • You should ask Google for a refund.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      if you're unhappy about this... You should ask Google for a refund.

      Actually, the people who should be asking for refunds are the people who hire the managers of UX departments. Look at this thread. The only consistent vibe is that Google's UX innovations on their websites suck, broken only by mentions that Yahoo's UX innovations to Mail and Flickr suck, and that UX innovations in all web browsers (Firefox more so than Chrome) also all suck.

      Windows pre-8. GNOME pre-3. Firefox pre-Australis. Firefox pre-

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @08:09PM (#47813081)

    Google says: "We encourage everyone to make the free upgrade to modern browsers -- they’re more secure and provide a better web experience overall."

    Bullshit.

    First, this simply is not true. Beginning with version 29 (which is now 3 or 4 versions out of date already), Firefox completely fucked up their browser and turned it into unusable garbage. Newer is not better. Newer is demonstrably worse. If I wanted a shitty browser with extremely limited configurability, I'd use Internet Explorer.

    Second, you should be able to view any web page using any browser released in the last 5 years. If something doesn't work properly it means you are putting too much fucked up bullshit into your webpage.

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Just install the "Classic Theme Restorer" add-on and Firefox is as usable as it was before.

    • you should be able to view any web page using any browser released in the last 5 years. If something doesn't work properly it means you are putting too much fucked up bullshit into your webpage.

      This can be said every 10 years. All browsers, all web pages.

    • Google says: "We encourage everyone to make the free upgrade to modern browsers..."

      Should read: "We want everyone to use Chrome. We even try to install it surreptitiously to your machine when you download other programs."

    • by tepples (727027)

      Google says: "We encourage everyone to make the free upgrade to modern browsers -- they’re more secure and provide a better web experience overall."

      Then where's the free upgrade for an Android 2.x device? Chrome requires Android 4.

      • by neminem (561346)

        It's here [cyanogenmod.org]. You're welcome.

        • My cousin's phone is a Samsung Galaxy S Captivate. It's one of the few Android devices that hide the Unknown sources checkbox from the user [androidforums.com], which was AT&T's standard practice for about the first year that it offered Android phones. This means step 1 of the standard installation instructions [cyanogenmod.org] will not work.
          • by neminem (561346)

            Wow. That does kinda blow, but sounds like an even better reason to *get* Cyanogen. Note: those "standard installation instructions" only work on a particular, rather small subset of Android phones. Cyanogenmod itself works on a much larger subset, though I think still not all of them, I have no idea if the Galaxy S Captivate is one of them or not. (Though it looks like the answer is yes [cyanogenmod.org]?)

            I installed Cyanogenmod on my previous phone that was stuck on 2.3 (and full of crapware I didn't want)... I had to firs

  • by DeVilla (4563)
    Does anyone know how to get that with a modern firefox without changing the UserAgent (since that breaks other things)? The current interface is bloated, slow to load and kills my CPU due to something plusone.js is doing. (I already block plusone.js just to keep my idle CPU load below 30%.
  • I noticed a few days ago when using Google's image search that it was no longer giving me an infinitely long page of results, but instead they just quickly loaded and there was a 'next' button at the bottom of the page for when I wanted more. I just thought it was my lucky day or something, as I'd always gotten the infinitely long version before, and so I assume they just mis-identified my web browser as not supporting it and would fix the bug soon. Didn't realize it was a feature I'll get to enjoy foreve

  • If the quality of results could be dialed back to 2000â"2004 or so, that would be nice. Also, when I ask for a specific string, that is what I am asking for. Please don't give me something else...
    • I often like the "similar meaning" results but not always. Ergo it should be an option IMHO.
      For example "Exact:" or something like it.
      Or it could simply allow regex with a similar prefix. Then I would have a reason to learn regex.
      They already use : as a special string. For example "site:http://www.slashdot.org " only gives results from /. .

  • I might actually take some effort to spoof my user-agent if it eliminates 5-more. You know, because "modern" Google assumes that my 1680-pixel wide display can't show me all the top-level options. So it makes up for that by showing the 5 most recently used options, and then "more". Where the fuck did Maps go? Oh. It's under "more" now because I haven't used maps for a while. But at least I can pretend to be on a phone even though I've got 1680 horizontal pixels. I always wanted the imaginary creature

  • Anyone still using google gets what they deserve. White list their ad delivery domains and find another search engine. I really miss Alta-Vista, and DEC in general.

    • by mythix (2589549)

      Are you.... the bing user?

      • by sabbede (2678435)
        I heard there were two!
      • by Archfeld (6757) *

        While there might in fact be 2 Bing users I'm not one of them. I find Bing relies too much on looking pretty and less on delivering decent non-sponsored results. My parents seem to like Bing, though and all I can do is shake my head and set up their browser for them...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Which means that if you are not using a current mainstream operating system that is supported by Mozilla, then you are out of luck.

    I still use OS/2 - eCS for a lot of things that I do. Although there is a user supported Firefox for OS/2 the most current version that I have is I think 10.0 something.

    Thanks Google.

  • Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers

    It's about how you put the words. The alternative would be "Google Serves Broken Page To Old Browsers". Isn't this only offering good compatibility?

  • then I will continue using old browsers on old computers. Who cares if Google doesn't show me the latest bar on top?
  • by Saint Gerbil (1155665) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:38AM (#47814849)

    By changing the User Agent string on my brower I found that the following are affected by this:
    IE9
    FF6.0
    Chrome 4
    Safari 5
    And all versions of Opera before they used the blink engine.

    Possibly more when I have the time.

    The timeline on when these came out is wavy as hell.

  • Unsure why you need to be on 'the latest and greatest' to perform a useful search. Google touted their simplicity all along, blank white screen with a text input and submit button.
    For a successful search you enter a text string and hit enter, the website does its stuff and returns a list of links. This shouldn't need anything that isn't supported even in the most basic browser. Even adding functionality such as previews doesn't need heavy duty scripts, or modern features.
  • Thankfully I'm using modern browsers, so I shouldn't be affected:
      * NetSurf 3.2 (released 2014-08-30)
      * Dillo 3.0.4 (released 2014-04-09)
      * lynx 2.8.8 (released 2014-03-09)
      * w3m 0.5.3 (released 2013-04-26)

  • I love how the "outdated" page lacking "modern features" is from all the way back in the stone-ages of last year.
  • Another reason to keep using the old Opera 12...

  • The browser in question from TFA is Opera 12.17 which was released in April of this year (http://www.opera.com/docs/changelogs/windows/1217/). I'd hardly call that an old browser.
  • funny how trying to track down a debit card charge from Sam's Club I instead get people's banking account statements, in the search results, very disturbing.

  • Hallelujah!! I can print maps for my expense reports!!! But holy cow, they also provide old satellite images? My colleague here is looking at the exact same maps page, and he is seeing a current map, i see something that I'm not kidding must be 20 years old. (Wow. So that's what it looked like before all the roads were built in this area.)

    What passive agressive assholes Google are.....

    Oh well at least i can print travel summaries, screw you very much Google. They are gonna get a lot of lies in the use

  • Web Companies Google, Amazon, et al. Upset that Users of Old Browsers Can't See Their New Advertising Technology

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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