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The mysterious case of how a change in Google search engine was hanging Microsoft Edge

26 mayo, 2021

A few days ago Microsoft Edge users started reporting problems with the browser when entering text in the address bar: Edge was experiencing random crashes across all versions (stable, beta, dev, and canary).

The team of Edge then suggested that those experiencing the problem could disable search suggestions or simply switch the default search engine, since crashes only occurred if the search engine established in Edge was Google. The problem has already been solved, but the causes of its existence are somewhat strange.

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A bug that only affected Edge due to a change made by Google

As we are told at Techdows, the Edge team investigated the issue and was able to resolve it quickly, however, the interesting part came later. Yesterday in a reddit thread, Edge’s community manager decided write a clarification to explain what had been the causes of the problem first:

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On July 30, around 3:40 pm in the Pacific, we were alerted to a crash affecting our stable channel. This was immediately observed to occur only while typing in the address bar, and we quickly alerted the appropriate team members to investigate.

Soon after, we discovered that disabling search suggestions or disabling Google as the default search engine solved the problem. This was also noticed by the community here on Reddit and Twitter. Our engineers found that an unrecognized token in the JSON search suggestions was causing the Edge browser to crash when typing in the address bar with Google as the default search engine.

We reached out to our friends at Google to see if they knew of any changes that might have affected this. After investigating, they pulled a recent update to Google’s search service to help mitigate the downfall of Edge.

Thanks to the quick action of your team, we confirmed that the issue was mitigated in Edge.

Chrome Microsoft Edge

In short, a change Google made at the search engine level caused Edge to crash for users who use it as the default search engine in the URL bar to receive instant suggestions. The strange thing here is that this problem will only affect Edge and nothing else to Edge. Not to Google Chrome, not to another Chromium-based browser.

Why this is something we don’t know, we just know that “your friends at Google” made a quick change and the problem was fixed. This is not the first or only “stumble” that Edge has with a Google product, just recently launched it was blocked by Google Docs, and for a while if you entered the Chrome Web Store from Edge they warned you that only with Chrome you could install extensions safely.

It is normal that these types of events tend to trigger the sabotage alarms of which Google has been accused so much, and whether this is a genuine and isolated error or not, it is still interesting, especially considering that Microsoft Edge is already the second most used browser on the market.