Windows Phone Tango can have a catastrophic web browser crash [Video]

Browsing can be hazardous to Tango's health

With Windows Phone Tango rolling out it is perhaps not a surprise that some isolated bugs may be discovered along the way. So far, not too many have cropped up but there is one that is interesting though seemingly rare.

Users have found that navigating to the German news site on their phone, with “Desktop” enabled can result in the browser locking up the device. The site does default to a mobile WAP version and there is a Windows Phone app too but users are free to use their IE9 in desktop mode to view the site “as is”.

We’ve tested the scenario on our Tango phone (Focus 2) and sure enough, upon loading the page the second time it does lock up the device. Since Internet Explorer is a native app, native apps can crash the OS whereas third-party apps should not be able to do so.

The theory seems to revolve around the idea that is very graphic intensive with a lot of photos being pushed to the browser. Combined with Tango's low-overhead for 256MB devices and it seems to zap all of the available memory on the phone (of course we can’t rule out javascript errors or something else, either). You can replicate the crash yourself by following these directions:

  • Turn “Desktop” mode on in the browser
  • Navigate to, it may load just fine
  • Navigate to another site then go back to
  • Browser should crash when loading

The resulting crash means you would have to pull the battery (or hold the power button for 10 seconds) to reboot the phone. We tried this on a Windows Phone Mango device (HTC Titan) and could not replicate the crash. We also had no issues with a Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.1 meaning this most certainly seems correlated with Windows Phone “Tango”.

Is it a dire bug? Certainly not but it could be used as a browser-exploit by some nefarious people out there, even though that seems remote to us. Still, hopefully Microsoft will see this and patch it up for their next OS build.

Update: To make things even more confusing, it's not all devices. Our Lumia 900 with Tango is okay, but reports at XDA of the Radar, Omnia 7, Lumia 800 and our Focus 2 do have the crash.

Source: XDA; Thanks DerAusgewanderte, for the tip

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • This happened with me while I surfed the web on tumbler. This isn't Tango related. L900
  • In this case it is, since myself nor others can replicate this case on a Mango phone. Theoretically, Mango also has upper memory limits too which you reached but on Tango, it seems to be even lower which may be of concern. (Also, if this was able to be replicated, you should have let us know)
  • It happened to me yesterday.
  • IE9 locks up on my phone and tabs crash all the time for me. I have a Samsung Focus and a Lumia 900 both on Mango. IE9 on my Focus is completely dead and no longer opens so I had no choice but to buy a Lumia 900 if I wanted a working phone. 
    I posted about my IE9 problems and other problems I had with WP7 on The Verge forums :
    There are links in that forum post to my Microsoft answers posts.
    Somebody from XDA developers responded to my second Microsoft answers post about IE9:
    There is a solution to IE9 no longer opening but you no longer can open multiple tabs. Here is the XDA thread:
    Here is a youtube video of the problem:
    Microsoft windows phone support could not find a solution and AT&T twitter CS gave up or completely ignored me and just kept telling me about the disappearing keyboard problem.
  • Woah, I'm going to have to check those links out as my IE9 has been broken for around 5 months... I had to disable tabs just to get it working again. I've been tempted to factory reset but didn't want to lose all the data on my phone.
  • I was told to roll back to a previous update and update again to mango. It worked but IE9 would always permanently crash again and I would have to roll back and update again to mango. I was tired of losing my game saves,etc. (Zune only backs up pictures and videos unless there is an update) I upgraded to a Lumia 900 and IE9 still crashes a lot and locks up my phone and freezes but so far it has not permanently crashed like it did on my focus multiple times.
  • We really need a proper back up tool for saves and other data. It's BS losing all that stuff due to factory resets or phone upgrades
  • Knowing, this is rather funny. Unkind minds might say you get what you deserve. Any bugs with Don't think so ;).
  • It's a big deal for thouse in Germany.
  • Not really, Bild sucks...
  • Yeah.. Bild is yellow-press at its best... you can find any not needed news there -.-
  • You shouldn't have posted that all windows phone are not affected with the "dead freeze"...mine just go back to start ...
    Samsung Focus Flash
  • We didn't say all Windows Phones, we only tried on our Focus 2 and users at XDA had also tried various phones (Lumia 800, Omnia 7, Radar). It does seem tied to Tango though and even if yours just crashes the browser and not freeze the device, that's still not good...
  • This is somewhat off topic but I'm curious. You're running Tango on the HTC Radar (T-Mobile)?
  • No. Haven't installed it yet.
  • It's not a bug. Rather a protective measure to save people from accidentally browsing onto that website. It's content is far more harmful than any spyware could be. 
  • There is an app in the marketplace :)
  • Yes, I believe I mentioned that in the article and the video ;-)
  • Yes but you forget the link :)
  • The damn users on this site are just butches they wine and argue with everything
  • What has drinking wine got to do with anything? Oh "whine" haha :P
  • Like there was any reason to visit in the first place...
  • I think you missed the point :-/ We're here to talk about technology, not politics or personal taste.
  • Nah, didnt miss the point, just a little stubborn when it comes to the yellow press
    you're doing a great job, never mind ;)
  • Tried it on my Lumia 800 with Tango installed and on second attempt it locked up as described in the article. Be interesting to note exactly what causes this
  • This is not a Bug it,s a feature! Bild sucks and the phone is aware of it!
  • yeah, someone else above you made that joke. Har.
  • So far no sites in English or Spanish have that issue.
  • someone should also have mentioned bild is huge in hyping apple products ;)
  • That's the vibe I got and I don't even understand a word.
  • Just to add my experience. I tried the site and upon returning was inundated with popups on the phone advertising that my computer (funny as I'm on my phone) was infected with a virus (actually not but the popups are the type to get you to install a fake antivirus.) it was quite humorous. I used a Focus S and had no crash. It did labor a bit but no crash and did not kick me back to start.
    looking at the scenario it appears the site uses alot of resources. I had no other programs in my memory as I backed out of everything prior.
  • By the way I am running the tango build 8773.
  • Not the only bug I cant view youtube at all on my lumia 710 but I haven't upgraded to tango yet still waiting for ota update
  • you'll be waiting a long time! OTA will be in WP8.
  • I think he meant the OTA update prompt, not the update itself.
    I still haven't received the prompt yet, and mine's the Malaysian Lumia 800 unit.
  • YouTube works great on my 710 7104 and 8773 builds
  • I actually had my first crash with the browser this week (with tango). Hopefully nothing recurrent.
  • didn't crash for me. HD7 with Tango.
  • No issues doing that with HTC Mozart on Vodafone Germany with Tango (8773).
  • Since I updated to 8701 I've had a lot more app crashes on my Focus S. Even now with 8773 I still have more than I did on mango.
  • I'm getting more account related issues with my phone...but perhaps with so many things shifting with regards to Zune/Xbox and Windows 7/8 I should just wait these things out =/
  • Why phone web browser works fine no crash :-P
  • Can't reproduce this bug on my Lumia 900 with Tango.
  • So far neither have I. I added a note in the article about that. Odd.
  • I did this on my AT&T HTC Titan running Tango and all was fine. Put browser on desktop mode and went to site in question. Loaded fine. Went to another site...then back to site in question. Loaded fine. No issues at all.
  • I did this on my Lumia 800 with Tango and the phone was sluggish and I couldn't use the browser but could use multi-tasking to move away from IE. Repeated the exercise and on the second attempt got a total phone lockup and had to power cycle to recover.
  • No problems with my T-Mobile HD7 running Tango 8773. It is a custom ROM though & you could be on to something with the RAM statement as my HD7 has 576MB of RAM.
  • Tried it on my Tango Titan with no problem.
  • Not quite as bad, but the desktop version of always crashes my Mobile IE9 on pre-Tango builds. Some sites are just really badly coded or are so heavy that the browser just can't digest them.
  • Just throwing my two cents in, tried this with a LG Quantum 8773, loaded 3 times with no issues.
  • Good thing my Samsung focus is still running 7720. Thanks a lot at&t.
  • Can't replicate this on my focus 1.3 running 8773. Pushed the update with cab files.
  • Thankfully no issue on my HTC HD7 with Tango.
  • No issues with my 2 year old HTC Surround :D
  • Working absolutely fine on omnia w even two tabs of this site...on 8773
  • Works just fine as mentioned on my Lumia 900 with Tango, i'll give it a try on a friends Lumia 800 later.
  • I have a Surround that's running Tango ( note that I don't have any firmware updates from HTC ). My phone doesn't crash. So I assume that's a firmware issue?
  • It seems that Tango can also have excessive data usage!
    I was just checking my AT&T online account and noticed that I had jumped to 550MB used from 150MB a few days ago and hadn't used my phone for anything that can use that much data. I checked my usage, and there was a session at 11:18 PM that used 425MB in one go.
  • AT&T is known for phantom data usage. They claim that they are collecting customer data or something like that. 
  • Does any other browser do this? That cube one, lastpass, others? Also, sometimes Gizmodo crashes my ie but never my phone.
  • I have a Lumia 710 updated to latest firmware 8773 and my phone does not crash. Tried three times opened three tabs together viz., and No problem at all
    N sorry for my english :P
  • I tested this on my Lumia 800 and works perfectly! :P
  • No problem with mine.
  • Browsing is hazardous to your intellect, so your phone tries to protect you!
  • Exactly! :)
  • I've had my lumia 900 lock up twice before. both times I had no reception and when I swiped the unlock screen, it caused the OS to freeze. Afterwards, I switched it to airplane mode and there were no more problems for the rest of the night. I would assume it had something to do with there being no reception there. 
  • My Lumia 800 freezes kinda often while listening to Nokia Music. Also happened before Tango though. :/
  • I have similar behavior for two months before Tango at some site.
    With Tango nothing changed: I can crash IE but not the whole OS.
    HTC Mozart 8773.98
  • Opened and no crash and my lumia live . Yesterday updated to tango
  • Hmm... yeah I think I'll wait on that update to Tango until there is more info on this. No rush. 
  • I have this with other sites like f.e.
    Makes my htc hd7 stuck when loading some subforums , drives me crazy , as to say i am on deepshinning 7.5 so to say tango...
  • Are you guys beta testing for Nokia? :-/
  • Guys i havent faced this crash issue... I am using tango... I visited den i navigated to and den using the back button i came to my phone did not crash
    i even tried it from with two tabs... its fine...
    I beleive this is a problem with the XDA force update for tango... users who updated their phone using the force update for tango have many issues...
    One of them is FB messaging issue also... 
  • That's what I think too.
  • I tried this couple times. No crash here on Lumia 900 AT&T with forced Tango update. I do have FB messaging issues. I thought it is just FB part not Tango. I don't see all the messeges from People Hub but all the messages are there in Facebook app.
  • please visit the XDA forum.. i think they have a soln to the FB messaging issues... 
  • AT&T Titan, DFT's Custom [tango] ROM, I cannot replicate this.
  • Tango update made my browser freeze everytime I used the keyboard of my Samsung focus. The phone would reset by itself! Had to go back to the previous update.
  • No new in windows phone ri8 nw i just hate ri8 nw windows
    new lock pattern, no new apps,, no new updats,, no new screen savers,,
    no new unlock clocks,, wat can i do m just bored wid windows phone and
    no gamez all gud gamez r paid i have windows ri8 nw
  • Please stop posting this unintelligible drivel everywhere. It makes no sense and has nothing to do with the articles you're commenting on.
  • Den wat can i do hmm?
  • I wonder if all these IE browser woes will be solved by WP7.8? Will a new browser replace the current one?
  • tried few times and no lockup on my "tango"  Omnia7..