Google is attempting to shunt users away from old browsers by intentionally serving up a stale version of the ad giant's search homepage to those holdouts.
The tactic appears to be falling in line with Mountain View's policy on its other Google properties, such as Gmail, which the company declines to fully support on aged browsers.
However, it was claimed on Friday in a Google discussion thread that the multinational had unceremoniously dumped a past its sell-by-date version of the Larry Page-run firm's search homepage on those users who have declined to upgrade their Opera and Safari browsers.
A user with the moniker DJSigma wrote on the forum:
A few minutes ago, Google's homepage reverted to the old version for me. I'm using Opera 12.17. If I search for something, the results are shown with the current Google look, but the homepage itself is the old look with the black bar across the top. It seems to affect only the Google homepage and image search. If I click on "News", for instance, it's fine.
I've tried clearing cookies and deleting the browser cache/persistent storage. I've tried disabling all extensions. I've tried masking the browser as IE and Firefox. It doesn't matter whether I'm signed in or signed out. Nothing works. Please fix this!
In a later post, DJSigma added that there seemed to be a glitch on Google search.
If I go to the Google homepage, I get served the old version of the site. If I search for something, the results show up in the current look. However, if I then try and type something into the search box again, Google search doesn't work at all. I have to go back to the homepage every time to do a new search.
The Opera user then said that the problem appeared to be "intermittent". Others flagged up similar issues on the Google forum and said they hoped it was just a bug.
While someone going by the name MadFranko008 added:
Phew ... thought it was just me and I'd been hacked or something ... Same problem here everything "Google" has reverted back to the old style of several years ago.
Tested on 3 different computers and different OS's & browsers ... All have the same result, everything google has gone back to the old style of several years ago and there's no way to change it ... Even the copyright has reverted back to 2013!!!
Some Safari 5.1.x and Opera 12.x netizens were able to fudge the system by customising their browser's user agent. But others continued to complain about Google's "clunky", old search homepage.
A Google employee, meanwhile, said that the tactic was deliberate in a move to flush out stick-in-the-mud types who insisted on using older versions of browsers.
"Thanks for the reports. I want to assure you this isn't a bug, it's working as intended," said a Google worker going by the name nealem. She added:
We’re continually making improvements to Search, so we can only provide limited support for some outdated browsers. We encourage everyone to make the free upgrade to modern browsers - they’re more secure and provide a better web experience overall.
In a separate thread, as spotted by a Reg reader who brought this sorry affair to our attention, user MadFranko008 was able to show that even modern browsers - including the current version of Chrome - were apparently spitting out glitches on Apple Mac computers.
Google then appeared to have resolved the search "bug" spotted in Chrome.
Funny that. ®