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Microsoft Sends Broken Stylesheets to Opera 957

Posted by michael
from the accidents-happen dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Register has a story that the MSN homepage serves a different style sheet to the Opera web browser that makes Opera appear to be broken. Is this deliberate or a mistake? Who can possibly say? Opera's own take on the situation can be found here." This is not the first time.
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Microsoft Sends Broken Stylesheets to Opera

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  • by Sun Tzu (41522) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:36PM (#5242814) Homepage Journal
    It's back to the bad old days at Microsoft... Sounds a lot like how they killed DR-DOS, but on a smaller scale.

    Send us your Linux Sysadmin [librenix.com] articles.

    • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:41PM (#5242885)
      >back to the bad old days at Microsoft

      Drat, I must have missed the good days.
    • Why would anyone want to visit msn.com anyway?

    • i dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sydlexic (563791) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:51PM (#5243044)
      but it really looks like an honest typo in the style sheet. i can understand how they'd be pissed, but did they try contacting MS to get it fixed first? the fact that the server sends a client-specific style-sheet isn't exactly damning. it's a very common (though misguided) practice.

      never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.
      • Re:i dunno (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        I'm inclined to agree with this for a simple reason -- what other explanation makes sense?

        Modifying SMB to break Samba could well be worth the potential bad press. Why would Microsoft care about Opera? Or think that misrendering the MSN home page is a good way to undermine it? And decide that the rewards outweigh the downside of such obvious meddling?

        It just doesn't make sense to me. If they did the same thing to Mozilla or Konqueror/Safari, that I could see...

        • Re:i dunno (Score:3, Insightful)

          by raretek (215909)
          "Why would Microsoft care about Opera?"

          Opera is becoming a serious contender in the mobile arena. This is an area that Microsoft cares a good deal about. Doing that to Mozilla would generate too much press, and as for Konqueror, that isn't even a real competitor on the windows platform or in the mobile arena.

          They would do this. This is just the type of crap that monopolies pull, largely because they can.

        • Re:i dunno (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @06:10PM (#5245221)
          "Why would Microsoft care about Opera? Or think that misrendering the MSN home page is a good way to undermine it?"

          Just wanted to say that I'm glad you took a moment to take a step back and and say "Why?" as opposed to jumping the gun and saying "Damn MS trying to enforce it's monopoly as usual". Frankly, I'm tired of the wild assumptions that MS works that way.

          As an Opera user and a Windows user, you can understand that I've run across exactly this problem. I'd like to share with you a few observations I've made on this topic:

          - As an Opera user, I find myself having to deal with a number of sites that just don't care about me. Having IE available as a backup is just part of my everyday Opera life. I don't see MS as being very different here. Some sites block me totally, like the site I use to send payments to my credit card.

          - Because of my having to keep IE on hot standby, it doesn't even occur to me anymore to email MS (or any other site) and complain about lack of Opera testing. If they don't get feedback, they ain't gonna fix it.

          - Website maintenance is a perpetual, priority based job. Often problems are ranked by how many people are affected by them. Truth be told, Opera's just not significant today in light of other things going on. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if nobody there had Opera installed. Anybody who's ever done web development at a Dilbert-esque corp would probably understand this.

          - Wouldn't it be weird that MS would break Opera, but not Mozilla, Netscape, or other browsers?

          - What possible benefit could that bring them? Despite my comment earlier, Opera handles the vast majority of sites(*) just fine. When I run across a site that doesn't work with Opera, it feels like the operators of the site were moronic, not that Opera is incompatible. In other words, MS's site not working right with Opera makes MS look incompetant, not Opera. * Sites that I personally have visited, other people's experiences may vary.

          - MS's site is a marketing tool. Head on over there and you hear all about TabletPC's, PocketPc's, MS's latest server stuff, Windows XP, etc etc etc. Breaking their site means potentially shoo'ing off customers. I seriously doubt any PHB would want to do that.

          If other Opera users share my observations, then it actually makes sense that MS just doesn't care. But the idea that they're doing it to enforce a monopoly is not so evident.

          Please don't flame me for not jumping on the "MS is like OCP!!!" bandwagon. I'm just the type of person that'd rather look at all the details than try to find details to support a bias.
      • Re:i dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ink (4325) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:36PM (#5243616) Homepage
        did they try contacting MS to get it fixed

        It took microsoft SIX MONTHS to fix a one-liner that prevented Mozilla from working with Passport (buggy browser "detection" code). See bugzilla bug #141279 if you are curious. Interoperability and open standards are not placed anywhere near the top of the queue at Microsoft. In fact, the dragging of feet would point to more sinister motives... but of course there's no proof of such (without Halloween memos, at least).

      • Re:i dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KoolDude (614134) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:37PM (#5243643)

        ...but it really looks like an honest typo in the style sheet...

        The point is that the page rendered exactly same as IE provided the stylesheets are same. Unless MS thinks there is something wrong with the way IE(or Opera7) displays the page, why type out a different stylesheet and commit a typo in the process ? If it ain't broke, fix it to break it ?
      • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wraithlyn (133796) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @04:06PM (#5243959)
        They specifically designed their web site to send a different style sheet, (and '30' is not a typo.. '33' or '34' or something I'd believe) AND a larger page with less content, JUST to Opera. That seems pretty far from "an honest typo". This is MSN's HOME PAGE. You don't think they know what it looks like in different browsers? I work at a 4 person company, and we know what all our websites look like in IE, Moz/Netscape, and Opera. Furthermore, they have a motive to make it look better in IE, and they've shown in the past OVER and OVER that these kinds of underhanded tactics are their bread and butter. Someone at MS knew about this, and also knew it could never be proven in court.

        By the way, the full quotation is:

        "Never ascribe to malice, that which is adequately explained by incompetence"
        - Napolean Bonaparte.

        I think one of Microsoft's new unwritten policies is "When accused of malice, always hide behind incompetence".

        "No no... we'd love to, but we simply CAN'T remove IE from Windows." Sound familiar?
      • Re:i dunno (Score:3, Informative)

        by hkmwbz (531650)
        Oh yeah [opera.com]...
        "To test this, the User-Agent filed was changed slightly -- from "Opera" to "Oprah". Since there is no "Oprah" browser on the market, one assumes that MSN has not created special versions for it.
        ...
        Looking into this 37k file, we find a reference to the same style sheet as MSIE6 receives. Just to make sure the server does not modify this style sheet before sending it to the browsers, we fetch the style sheet with the "Oprah" browser:
        ...
        The resulting file is identical to the one MSIE6 receives. Therefore, MSN looks for "Opera" in the User-Agent string and on purpose send Opera7 a style sheet which distort pages."
        So it would seem that Opera was specifically targeted.
      • Re:i dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @05:53PM (#5245059) Homepage Journal

        but it really looks like an honest typo in the style sheet.

        Really? Let's look and see...

        MSIE stylesheet:

        margin: -2px 0px 0px 23px;

        Opera stylesheet:

        margin: -2px 0px 0px -30px;

        I don't know how you go about typing, but I'd have to throw silly putty at the keyboard from the other side of the room to hit the "-" key instead of the "2".

    • Sounds a lot like how they killed DR-DOS, but on a smaller scale.

      I wouldn't be suprised if there are many more Opera users than there were DR-DOS users. The number of PCs has exploded in the past several years, and Opera is a pretty well-known name among browsers.
  • by Boogaroo (604901) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:37PM (#5242831) Homepage
    Seriously, isn't this why the W3C tries to make people follow standards? So it doesn't matter what browser you use, it should all work?

    Anyone, including Microsoft, who writes a site that serves seperate pages to different browsers is doing a disservice to the public.
    • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242919) Homepage
      Well, not neccesarily. I don't think it's unreasonable (as a provider, not a web zealot) that a server doles out pages that are renderable. Where it's possible to predict what needs to be changed to get a browser to render that page properly, you might as well do it. Of course, it does have the potential to be abused.

      My browser is set to send nonsense as its id strings; it doesn't seem to do my surfing experience much harm.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:49PM (#5243021)
      > Seriously, isn't this why the W3C tries to make people follow standards? So it doesn't matter what browser you use, it should all work?

      How the HELL did this get modded to 5?!? RTFA, the problem is MSN sending a perfectly-compliant, but deliberately flawed in values, CSS style sheet *only* to the Opera 7 browser. Note that the sheet values were chosen to instruct O7 to misrender the pages. Nothing the W3C can do about this, standards compliance wasn't the problem.
    • by questionlp (58365) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#5243036) Homepage
      W3C calls their CSS and HTML specifications as "Recommendations" rather than "Requirements" or "Standard", per se. Instead, they provide specifications on how user agents (be it browsers or cell phones) are recommended to follow.

      Of course, it would be lovely if all browser makers were to forced to follow the recommendations down to the nitty gritty, but even the recommendations don't always provide strict requirements on how a property or class should be rendered.

      The fact that Microsoft is pushing out (delibrately) a broken style sheet is just wrong.
    • by rknop (240417) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:52PM (#5243061) Homepage

      Anyone, including Microsoft, who writes a site that serves seperate pages to different browsers is doing a disservice to the public.

      While I agree with the philosophy, unfortunately it's unrealistic. Reason: so many browsers, worst among them Netscape 4, try to support CSS and fail so miserably that a standards-complaint CSS page is likely to be unreadable. And, unfortunately, some people still use NS4 and old versions of IE.

      What I've done some places is write some SSI that detects the browser. If it detects Netscape 4 or lower, or IE ... probably 4 or lower, I forget at the moment ... it sends a "dumbed down" style sheet that will present only a faint echo of the layout of the page, but which will leave the text readable. Any other browser, you get the normal "standards compliant" style sheet. Note that here I am sending specific style sheets for specific browsers-- but I assume that any version of Opera, and any version of Netscape or Mozilla 5 or greater and any recent IE and any other browser that may come is standards complaint.

      -Rob

    • by Fembot (442827) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:56PM (#5243126)
      Actualy thats an interesting point. Should I bother to make a special version of my page for older browsers (Like NS4 and IE4) which have frankly awful CSS and DHTML support? Especicaly give how few people still use those two browsers. Or should I maybe have one primitive version which runs in even mosaic etc, and one which works with all the more common browsers which conform to the latest standards? And why cant there be some nice easy javascript way to determine if browsers support CSS2 and other fancy standards?
  • by pubjames (468013) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:38PM (#5242844)
    Opera should respond by automatically translating any page on the Microsoft web site into German and back again with Babelfish.
  • by Angelwrath (125723) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:39PM (#5242857)
    It would be nice to see a browser capable of masquerading around as IE or Netscape to decieve these foolish websites into not knowing what they are.

    I've heard plenty of stories of forms suddenly working when a feature in a browser was changed to show Internet Explorer for Windows/Mac, and otherwise breaking when they work just fine. Or in my case, I came across a site that said IE and Netscape only, but used Opera and it worked perfectly - this sort of ignorance on the part of web developers really is intolerable.
    • Opera already can masquerade as any browser you want it to. That's been a feature of Opera for as long as I can remember.
  • by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:40PM (#5242862) Homepage Journal
    I think we should give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here. I mean, it's really easy to slip up and identify a specific user agent, and serve a web page to it that has a content margin set to -30 pixels. We've all done it before, right?
  • Standards and lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Social (19242) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:41PM (#5242872) Homepage
    I love the bald-faced lying that MS pulls out for this behavior. "We're heavily invested in following standards." or "We're trying to produce the best site for all viewers." Yeah, right. Explain why there would be any reason at all to force every child entity 30 pixels to the left of its parent. For that matter, why does MSN still use the tired old hack of sending different pages to each browser? I don't need 4 versions of my site to handle every viewer. Amazing.
  • by eddy (18759) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:41PM (#5242876) Homepage Journal

    ..is fucking irritating. Don't mess with it!

    NO! It it not necessary. It just makes things worse in the long run, so if you're doing this _you're_ part of the problem, so don't complain about how you have to treat browsers differently.

    Sheeesh. Write to the standards, not browsers.

    (And no, this isn't "insightful", it's totally _obvious_ to anyone with a clue)
    • by Blimey85 (609949) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#5243029)
      Write to the standards, not browsers.

      This is fine for a personal or hobby site but for e-commerce, you need to write to users, not standards. It makes no difference to the user that your page is coded to standards if he/she can't view it. Telling them they need a different browser isn't the answer either. Showing them what they want, in a manner that works correctly with their browser, is unfortunately the best solution if you want to be profitable.

      I've had to code drop down menus differently for different browsers to get things to look the same, however when I'm done, you get the exact same page, with everything the same size and in the same place in IE, Netscape, Mozilla, and Konqueror. I've never used Opera so I don't test that one, but I guess I probably should.

      • It makes no difference to the user that your page is coded to standards if he/she can't view it. Telling them they need a different browser isn't the answer either.

        Clearly you use IE as your default browser. As an avid user of non-Microsoft browsers (Phoenix, in my case) it is almost a daily occurence that some site blocks me based on my user-agent ID and tells me to go download IE. I'm sure you have also seen "Best viewed with Internet Explorer" bottons before, too. Your argument is specious.
  • Oddity to me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unterderbrucke (628741) <unterderbrucke@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:41PM (#5242878)
    Why did they pick Opera, and not Mozilla or Netscape, not to mention Safari?
    • Re:Oddity to me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sulli (195030) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#5243035) Journal
      My theory is that they particularly hate Opera because it's commercial. To their customers (OEMs and corporate licensees) they can bash Mozilla for being open-source and therefore unreliable, Netscape for being too tied to AOL, and Safari for being too new and half-baked, but Opera proves that there's something better, separate from the OS, that people are willing to pay for, and this must really piss them off.

      Of course, I am happy with Moz and never think of using MSN. But that's just me.

    • Re:Oddity to me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rworne (538610)
      They picked Safari too.

      Hotmail worked fine with Safari just after Safari was released, then Microsoft changed something later in the day and all Safari users now get odd Javascript error messages when attempting to log on to Hotmail.

      Clicking on the "help" link brings you into your account, and once in, everything works just fine (and faster than IE on the Mac as well).
  • by theBrownfury (570265) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:42PM (#5242890)
    ....this doesn't make much sense. MS makes a lot of money based on the popularity of their MSN portal. this portal links to a lot of their other properties as well and it is against their best interest to make it difficult for users with a different browsers to access this page.

    one would think that since they want people coming to this page and accessing it regularly they would make it easier for them to get here.

    conspiracy theory aside this doesn't make sense from a business point of view. i have a feeling this is a mistake of some sort.
    • NO, it's intentional. If you read the article, you see how it is only Opera that gets the error, even thoght opera works fine with the page that is sent for IE.
  • by cluge (114877) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:42PM (#5242898) Homepage

    Older version of IE were also purposely broken in the same way; forced obelesence? As a regular Opera user I notice the same problem on some portions of the Microsoft web site as well (not just MSN).

    To me this just proves that the remedy isn't working, that MS as a company prefers dirty tricks to competition and that the states that have not agreed to settlement had better press MS hard. (Wow holy run on sentence batman). It's sad that a company as successful and as full of talented people as MS has to resort to this type of behavior when a competitor comes out with a good product.

    I'm reminded of a famous quote "Can't we just all get a long". I guess if your MS and you can't or won't compete the answer is no.

  • so what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d (454486) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242905) Journal
    It is Microsoft's website afterall.

    Who says it has to work with other companies browsers?

    If you don't like it, either use IE (not me thanks) or not visit the website (that would be me).

    Microsoft will notice the lack of ad revenue. Then they might fix it. If it is enough for them to care. Being that this is Opera, I kind of doubt it.

    • Re:so what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Isofarro (193427)
      It is Microsoft's website afterall. Who says it has to work with other companies browsers?


      How can you call it a website if it doesn't work on the Web. I haven't seen an official definition of the World Wide Web that indicates what browsers are allowed and what browsers aren't allowed. Care to shed a light on a reference of this nature?

      Now if someone can't author a website properly, calling it a website could be misrepresentative. Why not call it an IEsite, not a website - since it fails to meet the requirements of a website.
    • Re:so what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Who says it has to work with other companies browsers?

      Uh, we do. As in, society does, in much the same way that we demand our kitchen appliances use the type of electricty that is most common in the country. In fact, the govt enforce such standards, partly to stop an electricty company trying to force its way into the market for cookers by giving you free "special" electricity that only works with its products.

      Why can't I refuse to hire somebody because they are black, or because they drive a Fiat? Because that'd be unfair discrimination, and it'd be illegal. I don't see why it should be different for products. Clearly it's very easy to make it work OK in Opera, just remove the browser sniffing code.

      When big companies pull tricks like this, everybody loses. The web becomes more fragmented, and some idiots might look at such behaviour and think that it's actually ok to do something similar.

  • by Malc (1751) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242909)
    For a while I had to change my User-Agent string under Mozilla to that of IE6 under WinXP when visiting MSDN pages. Thanks Mozdev's uabar, and later Xulplanet's prefbar! Content served to Mozilla UA strings was unreadable with much of the text over-lapping. This went on for almost a year, but it seems to have been okay for about a month.

    Rather coincidentally, it was fixed shortly after I filled out a MSFT survey that appeared as I tried to leave the site - I claimed I was leaving because I was fed up with changing my UA string. Of course, I'm not conceited enough to think they fixed their problems because of me :D The whole time though, I had no problem with the MSDN subscriber downloads site, which even had a message for Netscape users.
  • and why... (Score:3, Funny)

    by tusixoh (561920) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242910) Homepage
    ...exactly would an Opera user even want to go to the msn homepage to begin with? i mean, i thought the entire point of using an alternate web browser was to get away from microsoft.
  • Actually (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hafree (307412) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242917) Homepage
    According to the web logs on the various sites I host, Mozilla and other Gecko-based browsers make up almost 15% of web traffic now, and Opera has a signficant enough user-base that it also makes it into the top 10 user-agents on web sites that get 1M+ hits per month from 100+ countries. I think the problem is that people need to move away from Microsoft web deveopment tools until they can learn to play nice and output standards-compliant HTML code. Ever try using the "save as HTML" feature in a Microsoft product? A 100-row table becomes a 2MB plaintext file by the time it makes it to the web...
    • Re:Actually (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Isofarro (193427)

      Try a 2 celled Excel spreadsheet, the left cell with a picture, and the right with a short bit of text. That's horrendous.

      Although, believe it or not, not as bad as MSPublisher.
  • by MetalShard (633009) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:43PM (#5242920) Homepage
    I used to have different style sheets for different browsers in an effort to make my websites look good for all of them. More than once I updated some of the html and only tested the pages in IE where they looked fine (I know, I know, but programmers are naturally lazy.) It turns out the style sheets for the other browsers totally made the pages look broken. I'm not defending MS. It would not surprise me if they did it on purpose, but I am saying it is easy to do. Now I just have one style sheet and I made sure to use simpler html that would look good on all browsers. Sometimes simple is better.
  • www.wannabrowser.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:45PM (#5242941) Homepage
    You can see how webpages react to various browsers at www.wannabrowser.com

    I'm not going to bother posting the results here but it's easy enough to see for yourself what the differences are.

    Ben
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:45PM (#5242946) Journal
    MS are free to serve up whatever they like on their servers. You don't have to go to msn.com, nobody is forcing you. So while this seems unethical nobody is being coerced into anything. An alternative might be to have laws that force companies to serve up sensible HTML to all browsers. How is that going to be implemented? That would be one hell of a legal nightmare. And what about people who write shoddy HTML for all platforms? Should they be punsihed less than people who can at least get it right for some platforms? So while we might not like what MS is doing there really isn't anything you can do about it. If you need to use msn.com, don't use Opera. If you like Opera, don't use msn.com. Nobody is forcing you to do anything.
    • by DickBreath (207180) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:17PM (#5243381) Homepage
      MS are free to serve up whatever they like on their servers.

      Are you sure?
      Without consequence as to what?

      Okay. I'll use your logic, and the same logic as some other posts here from Microsoft agents.

      I want to start serving stuff from my site that takes advantage of all known exploits in IE browsers. After all, it's my site. I can serve whatever I want. It's my business.

      If users don't like it, then they should use Mozilla or Opera.

      If you're a Microsoft user, why would you want to come to my site anyway?

      It's just an accident. Give me the benefit of the doubt.

      I'll probably get modded redundant since my above four arguments have already been made.
    • There's the literal way of looking at it, and then there's the abstract way. You're asking, "Why shouldn't Microsoft be allowed to serve up whatever HTML they like?"

      But in doing so, MSN is making a very specific, very pointed, very inaccurate statement about the Opera web browser. That statement is, "Opera doesn't render web pages correctly."

      Since Opera's success relies on public perception of the quality of their product, this amounts to slander. Since this is a Microsoft portal making the statement about a company that competes with Microsoft, it also raises antitrust issues.

      I would also like to know how you got it in your head that, if we don't have legal recourse, the only alternative is to shut up and take it. People have a right to complain. People should complain. Opera users, specifically, should complain.

      On a related note, I just spent twenty minutes on MSN.com, trying to find some sort of contact address. No dice.
    • Its about ethics. MS has as much right to serve Opera broken CSS as we do to complain about it. Nobody's forcing anyone to do anything, but MS is intentionally misleading people to believe that Opera is somehow broken (not that Opera Software needs help, seven holes found in one week seems a bit severe).

      As far
  • by horatio (127595) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:54PM (#5243083)
    From the old article, one of Microsoft's marketing directors should get his facts straight:

    "We supported the latest W3C standards when developing the content and services delivered from MSN," ... He added that Microsoft wants users to visit the Web site "regardless of the browser they choose."
    But Visse recommended that for the best experience with MSN, customers should use a browser that tightly adheres to the W3C standard.
    "If customers choose to use a browser that does not tightly support W3C standards, then they may encounter a less then optimal experience on MSN," he said.


    except, that if you ask the W3C validator, it doesn't work!

    www.microsoft.com [w3.org]
    www.msn.com [w3.org]

    Microsoft has a long history of intentionally breaking compatibility with other products to promote their own, as early as (and maybe earlier) the Windows 3.1 -> 3.11 "upgrade" which conveniently broke the diagnostic and repair software PC Tools.
  • In fairness (Score:3, Informative)

    by Espen (96293) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:56PM (#5243112)
    This is also the company that came up with a web site that doesn't work in their own web browser! IE2, which came as the default install with Windows 95 can't access the Microsoft web site, especially not the IE download pages where you would go to update to a newer version. It doesn't even have the smarts to throw up a 'you must download a newer version from here' link. It simply fails with a scripting error. The only way to upgrade IE on a Windows 95 machine from the default install was to use IE2 to download Netscape, which could then be used to download a new version of IE. Nuts.
  • by jonr (1130) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:58PM (#5243148) Homepage Journal
    On (semi) related topic. Why has slashdot.org blocked validator.w3.org? Are they embarresed by the results? After all I can always do a "Save as" and then upload the page to the validator.
    Pretty childish, if you ask me.
    J.
  • by a7244270 (592043) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:04PM (#5243216) Homepage Journal
    MS lost out bigtime by failing to convince the cellphone manufacturers to adopt their embedded OS - most of the bignames plan to use Simian (is that how you spell it) which uses Opera as its browser.

    The reality is that most windows users will never change their browser from IE to something else, so they are not afraid of Mozilla, konq, Safari, etc.

    The cellphone market on the other hand is HUGE, and given recent advances in wireless bandwith, has the potential to be highly lucrative.

    More than likely its probably safe to say that a significant percentage of all web browsing in the future will be on cellphones.

    They are attempting to ensure that non MS cellphones can't surf the web properly, in an attempt to make consumers prefer buying MS enabled webphones, which in turn will generate more revenue in the embedded market for them, which they desperately need.

    Just my opinion tho - can never tell what does guys are up to...
  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:06PM (#5243237) Homepage
    If I went to MS's site and the webpage they sent was broken, I would think MS had an incompetent webmaster who didn't know HTML. I wouldn't think Opera was broken.
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:28PM (#5243517) Homepage Journal
    I just made my install of Mozilla pretend it was Opera, by adding the following to the user.js file:

    user_pref("general.useragent.override", "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Opera 7.0 [en]");

    I restarted Mozilla (1.3a), checked the about page (it shows the user agent) and then visited the MSN page. The page showed up fine. I thought that maybe that maybe MS had changed the CSS. I downloaded the style sheet in Mozilla and saw the -30 there. From what I can tell Mozilla must have a check to ensure that text does not appear outside of the cell, not matter what the css indicates. If Mozilla can do it, then the guys over at Opera can do it too.

    Note - I am not saying that this clears MS, as any well implemented web site should only need one version of any page, unless they have localization. What I am saying is that this is a fixable issue on the part of Opera.
  • opera vs. msdn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:28PM (#5243525)
    I am a developer, I always use Opera, *Except* when visiting MSDN to search for documentation. MSDN (and MSN it seems) is the *ONLY* page I have ever visitted that consistently fucks up in Opera... I've always thought it was a Microsoft problem, and this clinches it !. Now, if only there was another development environment even remotely as good and user friendly as VS.NET, i wouldn't have to visit MSDN at all....
  • by Noel (1451) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:57PM (#5243881)

    I messed around with a few other UserAgent strings, and it gets a little clearer:

    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Opera 7.0 [en]" -> site.css

    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Oprah 7.0 [en]" -> site-win-ie6.css

    So far, exactly as reported in the article

    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible) Oprah 7.0 [en]" -> site.css

    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Oprah 7.0 [en]" -> site-win-ie5.css

    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1; Opera 7.0) Oprah 7.0 [en]" -> site.css

    It's pretty clear what they're doing:

    if string contains "Opera", use site.css
    else if string contains "MSIE 6.0", use site-win-ie6.css
    else if string containse "MSIE 5.5", use site-win-ie5.css
    else use site.css

    In other words, it doesn't matter what Opera claims to be compatible with - they always get the default sheet, just like a completely unrecognized browser does.

    I'm trying to apply Hanlon's Razor here, but it's hard...

  • by sirshannon (616247) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:59PM (#5243901) Homepage Journal
    My biggest complaint about the .NET framework:

    the .NET framework does a check to see which browser you use and then sends formats aspx pages for the capabilities of that browser. So if you use abs positioned divs, you'll get those for modern browsers but Netscape 4.7 (for instance) will get the same page (theoretically) but formatted via tables. This is great, if only MS were honest about it.

    I constantly have to hard-code formatting for controls because MS treats Netscape 6 as a 'down-level' browser and doesn't bother sending out certain formatting tags. So some pages look bad in Netscape 6, the reason behind it would be that the formatting tags weren't sent out because Netscape doesn't support them, but this is false because when I add them by hand, netscape handles them fine and my pages look the same in both browsers.

    I have to believe that MS does this so people say "this page looks like azz in Netscape" and assume that it's Netscape's problem.

    the framework has been out for too long and this is still not fixed, so I can not believe that it is an honest or innocent mistake.
  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @04:01PM (#5243919) Homepage
    Fortunately, the Opera browser can spoof a fake user-agent string. Ever since I've set Opera to always tell servers that it's IE, I've seen no problems.
  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @05:45PM (#5244973) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, this is not an effort against Opera. If I choose to break my own site, so be it..

    In my industry, just about every site does video of some sort. There's always some group that feels they were intentionally blocked because of whatever reason. I've seen sites that stream exclusively Windows Media, and some that use propriatory plugins like "Emblaze".. Some were using the Netscape "Push" method (send a multipart header, and then send a new mime delimiter between frames). Netscape "Push" doesn't (or didn't) work with MSIE.. Windows Media doesn't work with Linux. (with a few exceptions).. Something doesn't work with something else.

    If I choose to make my site not work with MSIE or Netscape, and only let Opera viewers see it, well, it's my site.. If Slashdot decides tommorrow that they like a feature of Mozilla 9.999, and it doesn't work with any other browser, including MSIE, how many of you are going to be bitching for MSIE compatability?

    I'll get a bunch of comments back "Microsoft Sucks", but I'd *LOVE* it if they'd put the REMOTE_USER_AGENT string beside your name in the comments.

    For those curious, mine is:
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.3a) Gecko/20021212

    I'm not defending Microsoft. It's shitty that they did it, but honestly it's their site. Try doing a Windows Update from Netscape, that doesn't work either.

    Want more fun? Try installing a nice fresh copy of an older Microsoft OS (say WinNT 4.0), and get yourself up to day.. Years ago, they broke the Microsoft pages, so you couldn't get the updates. But I can't say that I've ever seen a /. story on that.

    Where I work, we try our best to make our pages render correctly on our machines.. That means, keep everyone in the office happy, and hopefully it will make the majority of our customers happy. We have enough varity by choice to keep things interesting. here's the short list of the browsers we use:

    Win98/Win2k/WinXP:
    MSIE 5.0 -> MSIE 6.1
    Netscape 4.7 -> Netscape 7.01
    Mozilla 1.1 -> Mozilla 1.3a
    Opera (unsure of version)

    Mac: OS/9, OS/X
    MSIE (unsure of version)
    Netscape (unsure. various versions)
    Mozilla (unsure. various versions)

    Linux: (Slackware)
    Mozilla 1.1 -> 1.3a
    Netscape (various)
    Konqueror 3.0.1

    But sure as hell, we'll have some sort of rendering problem on some browser, and someone will scream that there's a conspiracy against them specifically..

    Our sites don't require any special browser. They all work. We don't know of any compatability issues right now, but I'm sure someone will find that Konqueror v1.0 won't work with a particular page, if they try hard enough. Our site has average users browsing. Some advanced users, lots of regular users..

    In the last 24 hours we had 17,017 different REMOTE_USER_AGENT strings sent to one of the servers, in 1,949,023 requests from 116,273 unique IP's.. If I take the list and:

    cat list.txt | cut -f 1-3 -d ";" | sort | uniq -c > work.txt

    less work.txt

    Here's the top 10 results:
    474500 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1
    317359 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98
    140794 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98
    91425 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0
    66331 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98
    31072 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0
    29963 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; AOL 8.0
    26778 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows NT 5.0
    25426 "Mozilla/3.0 (compatible
    20841 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows 98

    And in comparison, we'll look at some other top 10's.. Here's the top 11 Linux clients (11, because the first Opera was #11)

    grep -i linux work.txt
    1563 "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686
    387 "Mozilla (X11; I; Linux 2.0.32 i586
    161 "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3; Linux
    145 "Mozilla/4.7 [en] (X11; I; Linux 2.2.13 i686
    96 "Mozilla/5.0 Galeon/1.2.7 (X11; Linux i686; U
    72 "Mozilla/5.0 Galeon/1.2.5 (X11; Linux i686; U
    67 "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i586
    64 "Mozilla/4.78 [en] (X11; U; Linux 2.4.7-10 i686
    56 "Mozilla/4.78 [en] (X11; U; Linux 2.4.9-34 i686
    46 "Mozilla/5.0 Galeon/1.2.6 (X11; Linux i686; U
    39 "Opera/6.11 (Linux 2.4.2 i386; U

    And the top 10 Opera clients.

    127 "Opera/6.01 (Windows 98; U
    118 "Opera/6.05 (Windows XP; U
    104 "Opera/6.05 (Windows 2000; U
    74 "Opera/7.01 (Windows NT 5.0; U
    72 "Opera/6.05 (Windows 98; U
    60 "Opera/6.0 (Windows 98; U
    56 "Opera/7.0 (Windows NT 5.1; U
    49 "Opera/6.0 (Windows 2000; U
    41 "Opera/7.0 (Windows 98; U
    39 "Opera/6.11 (Linux 2.4.2 i386; U

    Ok, lets give better Opera numbers. It seems Opera has a few different formats for its browser string. Thanks guys. That helps me a lot..

    The top 10 browser string with "Opera" anywhere in it are:

    cat list.txt | grep -i opera | sort | uniq -c | sort -r -n -k 1

    ---
    752 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows XP) Opera 6.05 [en]"
    627 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows XP) Opera 7.0 [en]"
    617 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Opera 7.0 [en]"
    378 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98) Opera 7.0 [en]"
    277 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.1) Opera 7.01 [en]"
    271 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 2000) Opera 6.05 [en]"
    246 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98) Opera 6.05 [en]"
    222 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows XP) Opera 6.05 [de]"
    194 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0) Opera 7.0 [en]"
    156 "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows ME) Opera 6.05 [en]"

    Or more specifically, lets find every Opera browser regardless of OS type.. That's just about as big as we can inflate your numbers.

    cat list.txt | grep -i opera > work.txt
    cat work.txt | grep ^\"Opera > a.list
    cat work.txt | grep -v ^\"Opera > b.list

    cat a.list | cut -f 2 -d \" | cut -f 1 -d " " > opera.id
    cat b.list | cut -f 2 -d ")" | cut -f 1 -d \[ >> opera.id

    And then a little cleanup in 'vi' to fix the leading space, and the space versus slash in the two types...

    cat opera.id | sort | uniq -c | sort -r -n -k 1
    ---
    2565 Opera/6.05
    2488 Opera/7.0
    678 Opera/7.01
    549 Opera/6.01
    537 Opera/6.0
    438 Opera/6.04
    336 Opera/6.03
    105 Opera/6.11
    63 Opera/5.12
    47 Opera/6.02
    47 Opera/5.0
    43 Opera/6.0/\xa4/
    32 Opera/5.02
    30 Opera/4.0/Beta/4
    28 Opera/5.11
    27 Opera/5.01
    21 Opera/6.01/~/
    14 Opera/5.12/\xa1\xe8/
    13 Opera/3.60
    12 Opera/5.12/OCV2/
    9 "
    7 Opera/6.1
    2 Opera
    1 Opera/6.01/OCV2/

    Now honestly, who should I be designing pages for? the 2,500 hits from Opera 7.0, or the 474,500 from "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1 ?

    **WE** do respect peoples ability to choose what browser they want, and *WE* won't limit it, but I'd bet with these numbers in front of them, most bosses would have the pages designed for the majority..

    If the decision were presented to me, wether to include a really great feature that works in Netscape and MSIE but not Opera, or not, and I did exactly what I just did, and saw that 8,092 of 1,949,023 hits came from Opera, that's .0004% of our hits, I'd have to say "Do the change, ignore Opera".

    If Microsoft had half a clue (which I'm sure someone there does), and they checked to see what browsers were viewing, and *THEY* saw that .0004% of the browsers hitting them were Opera, they wouldn't waste the time to do make special pages specifically to break Opera.. It's simply a bug.. It's not worth the effort.. If someone did anything, I'd bet they were trying to make a better page for the Opera people, and failed.. Probably a newbie was given the job. Who cares if you mess up the page that no one sees..

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