IE11 forces Google.com into compatibility mode; Microsoft provides comment, fix

Microsoft released IE11 alongside Windows 8.1 but it appears that Microsoft may have goofed by forcing Google.com into compatibility mode which can cause rendering issues with search results. The issues have been reproduced by several users, ourselves included, and as you can see in the image above, the results are heavily skewed.

It's an odd issue but there appears to be a simple fix. The folks over at Winbeta noted that if you hit alt+x (while in IE) and uncheck 'Use Microsoft compatibility lists', the rendering issue will be fixed. What's odd here is that many might assume that Google is intentionally screwing with IE results as Google and Microsoft tend to throw mud at each other quite often. But, in fact, this is Microsoft's own fault and fortunately, there is a simple work-around.

This issue comes at a time when millions are likely upgrading to Windows 8.1 (read our review here) and with IE11 bundled with the OS, the skewed results could offer a negative first impression for some users. What’s odd is that these issues never showed up in the Preview versions of Windows 8.1 but there is clearly something amiss with the release version of IE11. 

A quick search on Twitter shows that many users are currently experiencing the issue with the browser too, so this is certainly not an isolated issue. Hopefully Microsoft will push out a fix soon before more users encounter the issue to avoid widespread negative connotation against IE11 and Windows 8.1.

[Update] Microsoft has provided Neowin with the following comment about the issue:

 "It appears Google made some changes to its search engine that temporarily impacted the way search results rendered for some browsers. We have already made the necessary adjustments to ensure customers using Internet Explorer are not impacted."

Thanks to Steven Bink for the tip!

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Man, why won't IE die already? Been working with this browser supporting as a developer since IE6 and it never stopped being a pain. already uninstalled it from my personal pc for more than a year now.

Yes, if you like a constant memory hog.

Chrome is the biggest browser POS I have used. Open task manager and see how many instances of Chrome are running for ONE tab, each process gobbling 15-30MB apiece.

IE 10 & 11 are both much faster and cleaner.

antonmelode said,
In this case, yes of course. firefox and chrome would be more than enough for the free market.

Yet neither of them adhere to standards any more!!

There is no surprise for IE to have problem.
In the past when I developed web pages, I encountered a nightmare with IE since different IE versions (even minor versions) or Windows patches can render pages differently with malfunction on some javascript.

ray_bk said,
There is no surprise for IE to have problem.
In the past when I developed web pages, I encountered a nightmare with IE since different IE versions (even minor versions) or Windows patches can render pages differently with malfunction on some javascript.

With IE5,6,7,8 you have a point. When dealing with IE9 (sort of maybe) and with IE10 and IE11, just write freaking HTML5/CSS3 standards and don't worry about it being IE or NOT and it works.

Mobius Enigma said,

With IE5,6,7,8 you have a point. When dealing with IE9 (sort of maybe) and with IE10 and IE11, just write freaking HTML5/CSS3 standards and don't worry about it being IE or NOT and it works.

Why would IE11 be the problem when the rendering engine is based on the one from IE10. Any rendering issues are the website itself not the browser!!

Interesting flip of facts...

The article is based on...
"Not Google's fault, Microsoft Screwed up."

However, as confirmed by Microsoft and as reported other places..
"Google made changes to cause the render issues."

Exactly, MS would have based the IE11 rendering engine on the one used by IE10 so any problems with rendering are problems with the webpage not the browser.

My guess is that Google did this deliberately to try and screw up the Windows 8.1 launch!!

Well, whatever they have fixed, it certainly hasn't reached my IE11 yet. Google is still severly broken - but as others have noted, it only google.com that's affected.

geez I had this issue since using 8.1 rtm, the leaked copy, , feels like months ago now, guess they never bothered to fix it until official release to the masses

Well it was b0rked for me yesterday, had to use chrome if I wanted to use google (chrome still sucks in Windows 8), but today google is working fine.

I wish MS would block google.com for just a day or two. Let them feel the heat a little. It works fine for me but I just avoid google as much as possible anyway.

been using ie11 since the preview version of w8.1 came out and have never had any rendering issues on any websites, other than a few flash issues here and there.

Looks like it may be fixed now - working normally again here.
I didn't disable anything, figured people would be working on it.

Studio384 said,
Note the old Google logo, it still uses compatiblity view here.

It is possible I never got the design change push then. Unfortunately it looks the same in all my browsers so it isn't compat mode.

EDIT: Just confirmed it. My google profile doesn't have the design changes pushed to it...

On an unrelated note, I love how you can pin sites and get live tile notifications now ... before it was just the icon.

Indeed, had the neowin shortcut tile pinned to my start screen and now i get rolling neowin front page headlines since the 8.1 update.

Been using Internet Explorer since version 4.0 way back when, my only browser I ever have installed on all PC's, as it meets my needs perfectly fine, works well, and such for my needs

Seems like easy to patch up issues though, and everything will be perfectly fine

Since installing 8.1 (in the very beginning before all this) I noticed the following:

Youtube - Green Screen (IE11's Flash is to blame here) disabling hwr does not help. Flash update needed.

G+ Alerts sometimes do not load properly and require unchecking of compat mode.
G+ Menu disappears on mouseover and requires same above fix.
After applying above fix, Gmail takes a bit longer to load (without above fix, it loads normally)

Nothing major really, these are easy to patch on MS' part.

MS didn't do this. Google has old code on their (new) page that pushes it to compatabilbily mode. See a few comments above where the guy found the issue in their code.

j2006 said,
MS didn't do this. Google has old code on their (new) page that pushes it to compatabilbily mode. See a few comments above where the guy found the issue in their code.

Fair enough. At least they fixed it.

seems to all be working correctly now... browser set 'not to use Microsoft compatibility lists'. IE11 displays google.com results just fine both in desktop and metro modes.

cheers

found the culprit, in the element with id="rcnt"

there are 2 div class="col" that contain inline style width:0
If I remove those, the results page becomes normal again.

No idea why they'd set the widths to 0.
Perhaps some javascript didn't fire properly.

Nice to see someone who actually found the problem with the code.

Though seeing as compat mode is also causing the issues, makes it look like both are a little screwy. Though surely this should of cropped up earlier during beta or RTM stage?

Microsoft should play Google's game and block Google.com to see how it feels to have something blocked, like the youtube app for windows phone.

Just disable it by unchecking "Use Microsoft compatibility lists" in Compatibility View settings. It works for me.

Internet explorer:
-still no mouse gestures
-still no multirow tabs
- Restore last session still doesn't work
And now this ... MS is really on a downhill slide, resting on past glories and a captive market.

gb8080 said,
Internet explorer:
-still no mouse gestures
-still no multirow tabs
- Restore last session still doesn't work
And now this ... MS is really on a downhill slide, resting on past glories and a captive market.

IE 10/11:
-best performance in HTML5, JS, and even Flash player is faster on IE.
-best power management (uses less battery life than any other browser)
-built in ads blocker (use TPL list from adblockplus)
-only browser to properly support touch and hiDPI screens on PC.
-best stability (crashes much less frequently than google chrome)

gb8080 said,
Internet explorer:
-still no mouse gestures
-still no multirow tabs
- Restore last session still doesn't work
And now this ... MS is really on a downhill slide, resting on past glories and a captive market.

Who gives a crap about mouse gesture and multirow tabs?
If you are opening 100 tabs in one window, you are doing it wrong.

Crimson Rain said,

Who gives a crap about mouse gesture and multirow tabs?
If you are opening 100 tabs in one window, you are doing it wrong.

Charming! Well I care about mouse gestures, which are convenient and I am doing them right. I care about multirow tabs and I am doing what I want.
And why don't you care that sessions restore still doesn't work?

gb8080 said,

And why don't you care that sessions restore still doesn't work?

Last session restore always works for me in IE11. When does it not work for you?

gb8080 said,

Charming! Well I care about mouse gestures, which are convenient and I am doing them right. I care about multirow tabs and I am doing what I want.
And why don't you care that sessions restore still doesn't work?

Back Button, Forward Button, Click Middle Button, Roll Middle Button, Ctrl-Roll Middle Button

There you now have all the functionality of your Mouse Gestures, and magically they go back to the freaking 90s.

If the newer 'gestures' were holding you back from using IE, then you have been using browsers wrong for a long time.

Mobius Enigma said,

If the newer 'gestures' were holding you back from using IE, then you have been using browsers wrong for a long time.

How dare you and Crimson Rain tell me I'm using my browser wrong? Who do you think you are?
I'm perfectly happy with the way my default browser (Firefox) works, and the way I use it.
FF has oodles of customisability, and it's fast enough and reliable enough.

It's the UI on IE that is stuck in the past, however. MS should stop listening to its fanboy yesmen and make some progress.

AS for "session restore", I have checked the box "start with tabs from the last session" and it still won't. Google/Bing "IE "reopen last session" won't work" and you'll find that this is a longstanding problem. By contrast, Firefox does this flawlessly.

gb8080 said,

Charming! Well I care about mouse gestures, which are convenient and I am doing them right. I care about multirow tabs and I am doing what I want.
And why don't you care that sessions restore still doesn't work?

I care and that's why I didn't say anything about it.

I'm still trying to figure out why it works only sometimes.

gb8080 said,

How dare you and Crimson Rain tell me I'm using my browser wrong? Who do you think you are?
I'm perfectly happy with the way my default browser (Firefox) works, and the way I use it.
FF has oodles of customisability, and it's fast enough and reliable enough.

It's the UI on IE that is stuck in the past, however. MS should stop listening to its fanboy yesmen and make some progress.

AS for "session restore", I have checked the box "start with tabs from the last session" and it still won't. Google/Bing "IE "reopen last session" won't work" and you'll find that this is a longstanding problem. By contrast, Firefox does this flawlessly.


Almost nobody cares about mouse gestures.

seems to happen only on the US google.com
google.com.sg and google.com.my are ok.

I guess google rolled out something that broke it.

z0phi3l said,
Why would any sane person willingly use IE anymore? ANY other browser is an improvement over IE

seriously, just try IE10 or IE11 before saying such stupid statements.

IE11 is much faster than any other browser, and crashes much less frequently, even with Flash content.

z0phi3l said,
Why would any sane person willingly use IE anymore? ANY other browser is an improvement over IE

IE10-11 are pure genius browsers.

LOL keep trying you uninformed you. Why not give it a try... it's changed A LOT since the old days... it's the fastest browser to date.

Wrong! It took Neowin quite some time (with the help of Microsoft) to be removed from the IE10 compatibility list.. it wasn't anything we could control with meta tags.

incendy said,
IE doesn't force compatibility mode, Web sites control that with meta tags etc.

websites can control compatibility through meta tags, indeed, but MS also provides a compatibility list that is updated automatically to say to IE which sites need to be displayed as IE5/7/8/9 compatibility mode, or when to use the user agent of another web browser (such as safari on the ipad to get served html5 video content instead of html4 with flash)

Steven Parker said,
Wrong! It took Neowin quite some time (with the help of Microsoft) to be removed from the IE10 compatibility list.. it wasn't anything we could control with meta tags.

The only way your site can be added to compatibility list is if you have either meta tags or code that added it to that list. Neowin definitely did/does as your site still does not work correctly with IE10 or 11.

Steven Parker said,
Wrong! It took Neowin quite some time (with the help of Microsoft) to be removed from the IE10 compatibility list.. it wasn't anything we could control with meta tags.

are you sure about that?

"Note that the X-UA-Compatible header has greater precedence than Compatibility View. If a website is on the Compatibility View List and a page on that site includes an X-UA-Compatible header telling Internet Explorer to display a page in IE9 mode, the page is displayed in IE9 mode. This allows web developers to support standards mode on an incremental basis."

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...rary/gg699485(v=vs.85).aspx

link8506 said,

websites can control compatibility through meta tags, indeed, but MS also provides a compatibility list that is updated automatically to say to IE which sites need to be displayed as IE5/7/8/9 compatibility mode, or when to use the user agent of another web browser (such as safari on the ipad to get served html5 video content instead of html4 with flash)

The Microsoft list is created based on Meta tags or deprecated code. Microsoft does not do this by hand. It searches sites that have code that relies on old deprecated methods or have meta tags that ask for compatibility mode.

link8506 said,

are you sure about that?

"Note that the X-UA-Compatible header has greater precedence than Compatibility View. If a website is on the Compatibility View List and a page on that site includes an X-UA-Compatible header telling Internet Explorer to display a page in IE9 mode, the page is displayed in IE9 mode. This allows web developers to support standards mode on an incremental basis."

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...rary/gg699485(v=vs.85).aspx

Exactly. We use it often at work due to legacy web apps. It works great and allows us to offer new experiences while still supporting older 3rd party solutions that have not been updated.

This is clearly an issue with Google. Best guess is they are updating their devices lists to support IE11 and accidently added some wrong tags or bad code in their if (ie) statements.

incendy said,

The Microsoft list is created based on Meta tags or deprecated code. Microsoft does not do this by hand. It searches sites that have code that relies on old deprecated methods or have meta tags that ask for compatibility mode.

if a website already has a meta tag that asks IE to render it in a legacy document mode, there is no point for MS to add it in the compatibility list as well.

MS says that when users click on the "broken document" icon on the address bar, it receives telemetry data that tell them on which websites the users feel the need to use compatibility modes. That's how they decide to add popular websites to compatibility list.

read this:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...rary/gg699485(v=vs.85).aspx


"During the development of recent versions of Internet Explorer, users took advantage of Compatibility View and those choices created telemetry data that was later to determine which websites displayed better when viewed in Compatibility View.

Starting with Windows Internet Explorer 8, this user feedback is combined with information listing the most highly visited websites per region. This provides the Compatibility View List, which automatically displays websites in Compatibility View without further interaction"

link8506 said,

if a website already has a meta tag that asks IE to render it in a legacy document mode, there is no point for MS to add it in the compatibility list as well.

MS says that when users click on the "broken document" icon on the address bar, it receives telemetry data that tell them on which websites the users feel the need to use compatibility modes. That's how they decide to add popular websites to compatibility list.

read this:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...rary/gg699485(v=vs.85).aspx


"During the development of recent versions of Internet Explorer, users took advantage of Compatibility View and those choices created telemetry data that was later to determine which websites displayed better when viewed in Compatibility View.

Starting with Windows Internet Explorer 8, this user feedback is combined with information listing the most highly visited websites per region. This provides the Compatibility View List, which automatically displays websites in Compatibility View without further interaction"

As was said either meta or use of bad deprecated code. That is exactly what ms is doing, someone clicks the broken button, they have code that scans it for issues and adds it if that page is doing lookups for deprecated code. Trust me, I have spent years dealing with this and adding and removing sites and fixing sites that were added due to use of deprecated IE statements.

incendy said,
And if they are they can add the x-compat meta to override.

Since IE10 there is no override if you're on their compatibility list that they control. See Neowin in WP8 mobile.. and compare it to Android or iOS.. that is still an issue for us.

Steven Parker said,

Since IE10 there is no override if you're on their compatibility list that they control. See Neowin in WP8 mobile.. and compare it to Android or iOS.. that is still an issue for us.

You know what is really strange. If you manually inject" meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE8" into google.com. It won't look anything like what is posted in the screenshot. It will force it into compatibility mode but it still looks right, just the navigation is to the left instead of on top.

well, beta product is so beta.

its a good way to re-enact, the classic browser discrimination "please don't use IE, use another one."

Iv`e just been updating a clients lappie to 8.1 then set the default IE11 search as Google (as asked) then saw all this weird results rubbish. Flipped round to my box, updated yesterday and it seemed fine. Slight panic, saw the article and fixed it.........phew!

Why do we even still have compatibility mode? Ditch it MS, you have enough of the HTML rendering bugs fixed in IE8 and up to say why even have it and if sites still want IE6, tell them to upgrade their darn site... IE6 is long dead...

neufuse said,
Why do we even still have compatibility mode? Ditch it MS, you have enough of the HTML rendering bugs fixed in IE8 and up to say why even have it and if sites still want IE6, tell them to upgrade their darn site... IE6 is long dead...


legacy document modes are now deprecated in IE11:
there is no more compatibility mode in the address bar
there has been no new document mode introduced in IE11 (no IE10 compatibility mode)
In the F12 developers tools, you can't switch to any document mode, like you would do on IE8-10.

Microsoft will probably remove the legacy document mode in a future version of IE. They are still there in IE11, but they are harder to notice. Microsoft is phasing them out progressively.

neufuse said,
Why do we even still have compatibility mode? Ditch it MS, you have enough of the HTML rendering bugs fixed in IE8 and up to say why even have it and if sites still want IE6, tell them to upgrade their darn site... IE6 is long dead...

Because many web sites filter by browser type and offer old broken methods. It isn't an issue with IE it is an issue with old web sites that created custom functions and css based on browsers.

incendy said,

Because many web sites filter by browser type and offer old broken methods. It isn't an issue with IE it is an issue with old web sites that created custom functions and css based on browsers.

That's why MS was testing with IE11 reporting as FF/Chrome and so on months back. Probably to see how it turned out, some sites just hate on IE and want you to use the others, they don't bother to update or even check if the newer versions will work now that IE11 for example has way better standards support compared to 8-10.

vcfan said,
simple fix. use bing. its better anyways

I've ran the blind Bing Vs Google thing they are doing in the UK when you visit bing.com - Google has returned more relevant search results 4/5 times do far - ironically the majority of the victories were related to searching for resources on Microsoft technologies i.e. Hyper-V 2012R2, powershell examples.

I need an example of a web search that returns better results in Bing than it does in Google. Maybe it's due to where I live, but Google always returns better results.

google gives more relevant results, especially when im looking for game cracks and ways to compromise the security and steal the information from the likes of you

virtorio said,
I need an example of a web search that returns better results in Bing than it does in Google. Maybe it's due to where I live, but Google always returns better results.

Do you live outside the US? Bing is just as good (if not better) than google in the US IME, but outside it's horrible

virtorio said,
Yes (NZ). I even have better results finding pages from Microsoft's own site (MSDN topics, Downloads) using Google.

Yeah, even just using it in Canada it's amazing how huge of a drop the quality is compared to US

virtorio said,
Yes (NZ). I even have better results finding pages from Microsoft's own site (MSDN topics, Downloads) using Google.

Yeah, Microsoft's search engine has never worked properly for me, I'd search MSDN for an API call and it wouldn't find it, while Google would.

Or when it would find something, it'd find really old documentation before newer stuff, so it's bring up an article about NT4 vs. the current API description from Vista, etc.

Matthew_Thepc said,

Yeah, even just using it in Canada it's amazing how huge of a drop the quality is compared to US

Vancouver BC Bing is fantastic.. They have a ton of data if you just use the US version of the website.. They have really improved the maps just over the last year

exactly! And why this happen is unimportant in my opinion. The largest OS company bring out an update and the largest searchengine (and the most visit website) not work any longer? what a regular user think about this? And even if this is Google fault, the ball fly always back to MS. Now it's really to late.

testman said,
Clearly there's a bug with the Compatibility Mode for some users. There'll be a fix. Don't panic!

Google is liable to lose business and money while MS gets its act together.

thealexweb said,

Google is liable to lose business and money while MS gets its act together.

Or in reality people will just think IE11 is **** and use another browser.

Which is exactly what Google want. Because it turns out this was Google causing the issue. Which is why it happened roughly a day after the 8.1/IE11 release date.

Checking the option 'Use Microsoft compatibility lists' also causes IE11 to display some RSS feeds incorrectly or not at all. Problem fixed instantly after unchecking it. So compatibility lists can be used by MS to break the web.

No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

Brian M said,
No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

I just did a quick check and see no issues, and google.com is not in compatibility mode for me. Also checking IE11 settings, compatibility lists is checked on.

*edit* Also checked on both metro and desktop IE, both render fine.

Brian M said,
No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

compatibility modes in IE is a great feature, when used properly. I don't see shy you say it's a PITA for developers. They can force whatever compatibility mode they want on their web page. How having choice could possibly a bad thing for developers?

however compatibility modes are being deprecated in IE11, and they may entirely disappear in a future version of IE, because too much reliance on IE5/7/8 compatibility modes is hurting users of modern versions of IE (causing lower performance and rendering issues).

Brian M said,
No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

I believe it is the user agent string in the desktop IE, go to F12 and change it to IE 10. I think IE 11 no longer uses like Gecko.

Also the Google app didn't work in the IE 11 Preview, it wouldn't dictate like google now. Now it does.

Brian M said,
No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

Because a new version of browser with a breaking change should break all older sites instead of having a nice fall back?
Do you even have any idea about development?

So you have never had a site forced into Compatibility mode by Microsoft's lists then?

And Crimson Rain, yes, I do have an idea about development. I've spent many years as a web developer. I've also spend many months trying fruitlessly to get a site removed from IE's stupid compatibility lists, when it had no problem in the latest version.

Why would a browser *need* a breaking change?

Brian M said,
Why would a browser *need* a breaking change?

See IE6, IE7. Making IE strictly adhere to standards in later versions is a necessary breaking change.

norseman said,
What's wrong with the browser? Is this Google being dicks again?
Would not put it past them to frek up rendering on anything but Chrome at least for a short time so to get people to come over.

link8506 said,
compatibility modes in IE is a great feature, when used properly. I don't see shy you say it's a PITA for developers. They can force whatever compatibility mode they want on their web page. How having choice could possibly a bad thing for developers?
...

Because it's the browser forcing a non-standard rendering on the site which no other browser does, so when the site is written correctly it appears fine in every other browser but IE.

For the longest time Neowin was forced into a compatibility mode for no reason, which broke the site instead of "fixing" it.

Brian M said,
No, this is Microsoft forcing their crappy compatibility mode rendering on google.com. Compatibility mode is a PITA for developers!

If this had been MS they would probably not let google load up it has to be google.

Brian M said,
So you have never had a site forced into Compatibility mode by Microsoft's lists then?

And Crimson Rain, yes, I do have an idea about development. I've spent many years as a web developer. I've also spend many months trying fruitlessly to get a site removed from IE's stupid compatibility lists, when it had no problem in the latest version.

Why would a browser *need* a breaking change?


They only add a site in "ms compat list" if it is a popular site and a lot of people report it for being broken.

This site was not fixed it soon enough. Once it was "fixed", MS didn't remove it from the list fast enough. Both parties are at fault.

As for breaking changes...really? You are trying to tell me everything (this includes proprietary implementations of a specific browser) you wrote for firefox 2.x/chrome 2.x work flawlessly in firefox/chrome whatever-the-latest-version-is?

And don't bring up that flawed "works on everywhere but IE" logic and point to IE6/7.

Back in those days, standards were not the norm and they were extremely slow to be innovative. All browsers kept adding proprietary features as much as they could. Back in that time, IE6 was the best browser with cool support for features that have been sugarcoated as brand new CSS3 features recently.

This doesn't mean MS has no fault. Their only fault was that they didn't keep their browser updated with time for a few years.


jquery has more shims for ff/chrome than IE10. That's how good standards support is in IE. If you say things just work fine in ff/chrome, you have only used basic html and/or some cool js library (like jquery which hides the flaws). Try coding something advanced yourself and basic css/js issues on ff/chrome will popup. This doesn't mean IE doesn't have issues either; but usually the issue is limited to simply not supporting a new feature unlike ff/chrome's supporting some feature in a broken way.