Some users who have upgraded to Windows 8.1 are reporting that Internet Explorer 11 isn’t rendering Google’s search engine correctly. Other browsers work as expected, but Microsoft’s latest and greatest in both Modern UI and Desktop modes fails to display the search pages properly. Update at 4:00PM EST: Microsoft says it has fixed the issue, see below for the company statement.
A thread titled “IE11 on Windows 8.1 – Google Search loads in legacy mode” over at the Google Groups forum has 13 posts at the time of writing. Many more complaints can be found on Twitter.
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Here’s a screenshot of one user showing the problem:
Thankfully, one user on Google’s forum has found a workaround that fixes the issue. In IE11, click on Tools and choose Compatibility View Settings. Uncheck “Use Microsoft Compatibility lists” and Google’s search engine should work again.
Microsoft offers Compatibility View in IE8 and above to help newer versions of its browser load older websites that still expect previous versions of IE. The company maintains a list of websites that aren’t rendering properly in the new browser version, so that IE can switch to Compatibility View mode and load them correctly.
What appears to be happening here is that Google’s search engine has somehow been added to IE11’s Compatibility View list. Furthermore, IE11’s Compatibility View renders it incorrectly, even though older versions of IE all currently load Google properly. As a result, disabling this feature temporarily fixes the problem.
We say “temporarily” because this is not a permanent fix. IE11 shouldn’t need Compatibility view to load Google properly, and users of course should have to change any settings. What is surprising is that this problem did not occur in beta and preview releases of Windows 8.1 with IE11. It’s also not happening for everyone, adding more confusion to the mix.
This is unfortunate as it means many users who are upgrading to Windows 8.1 are getting a very poor experience with IE11. The browser may work fine on Bing and other websites, but chances are most users will head to Google at some point.
Update: We’re hearing that other Google services such as Google+ also aren’t working for some users. Others have absolutely not problems with Google, Google+, or any other website in IE11 on Windows 8.1.
We have contacted Microsoft and Google about this issue. We will update this article if and when we hear back.
Update at 4:00PM EST: Microsoft says the issue has been fixed. “It appears Google made some changes to its search engine that temporarily impacted the way search results rendered for some browsers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TNW. “We have already made the necessary adjustments to ensure customers using Internet Explorer are not impacted.”
It’s not clear what exactly Google changed, what other browsers were impacted, nor what exactly Microsoft had to adjust. It’s likely, however, that Google’s site has now been removed from IE’s Compatibility List. We have asked Microsoft for more details and will update again if we hear back.
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