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Google's silent experiment crashes thousands of browsers and angers IT administrators

Google left thousands of machines in the broken Chrome browser business this week after a silent experimental change. Business users who access Chrome through a virtual machine like Citrix are constantly seeing white screens on open tabs of Chrome, blocking access to the browser and leaving it completely inactive. It has left many IT administrators confused about the problem, as businesses typically manage and control Chrome updates.

Following 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 silent without IT administrators or users being warned about Google changes. Google just turned on the flag switch to activate a new WebContents Occlusion feature, which is designed to stop 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 ~ 5 months," explained David Bienvenu, a software engineer at Google, in a Chromium error topic. "It was turned on stable (e.g., M77, m78) through an experiment that was pushed to a released Chrome on Tuesday morning. Previously, it worked for about one percent of M77 and M78 users for one month, unfortunately with no reported issues. "


Google canceled the change late Thursday night after multiple reports from businesses with thousands of affected users. "I will refuse to start this experiment and try to figure out how to handle Citrix," Bienven notes in the error thread.

"This has a huge impact on all agents of our Call Center and you can't talk to our members," explained Costco's IT administrator in the Chromium thread. "We spent the last day and a half trying to figure this out."

An IT administrator who alerted The Verge to the problem said "we think it's a shady thing that Google can update Chrome is silent without reporting anything and can affect the whim of 100,000+ people. "These concerns are reflected in hundreds of replies to the Google Support Forum, bug tracking topic, and on Twitter and Reddit.

Leave IT administrators angry that they have wasted valuable resources and time trying to fix problems in their environment and questions why Google decided to make a tacit change to Chrome in the first place. "I'm stunned by your response," an IT administrator said in response to Bienven's confirmation of the questions. "Do you see the impact you have created for thousands of us without any warning or explanation? We are not your subjects. We provide professional services for multi-million dollar programs. "

We searched Google for comment on Chrome issues and will update you accordingly.

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