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Google 'encourages' users of old browsers to get with the times

Google has begun displaying old versions of its search page to users of out-of-date web browsers.

Over the previous weekend, many people reported seeing the 2013 version of the Google homepage when using an older version of certain browsers.

Read more: Google strips content authorship from search engine results (opens in new tab)

The issue occurred most frequently when using variants of Opera 12 and Safari 5.1.

In a forum covering topics relating to Google's search service, an employee from the company said the change was made to "encourage" people to upgrade their browser.

Those affected could view search results in a modern format, but could only see the 2013 iteration of the homepage, which lacks some more modern features.

Users attempted to rectify, what they assumed was a browser error, by clearing cookies or disabling extensions, but this had no effect. Some were able to view the 2014 homepage by changing their browser's basic configuration to make Google think it was more up-to-date than it actually was.

According to the BBC (opens in new tab), a Google engineer, called "nealem," joined the forum discussion to confirm that the change was deliberate.

"It's working as intended," he said. "We're continually making improvements to Search, so we can only provide limited support for some outdated browsers."

The move is an extension of a policy begun in 2011 when the search engine giant decided to drop Gmail support for older browsers.

Many users have criticised the shift, describing it as "heavy-handed" and "ridiculous." Some claimed that they continued to use older browsers because they often include useful features that are removed more recent versions.

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Google did confirm that a member of staff had taken part in the discussion regarding the change, but had no additional comment to make.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.