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BrowserWatch: Parts of MSN Still Off-Limits to Opera, Amaya Users

Nov 01, 2001, 17:43 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Kevin Reichard)
"Despite Microsoft's promises to open up the Microsoft Network (MSN) to all browser users, some portions of that Web site are off-limits to users of the Opera and Amaya Web browsers.

The site in question, Carpoint, tells Amaya and Opera users that there are features on the site not compatible with their browsers and that they should upgrade to Internet Explorer:

'Microsoft Carpoint that contains the latest new- and used-car features cannot be viewed using this browser.If you would like to see what you are missing......you can upgrade your browser to the latest version of Netscape, or click the icon below to download the latest version of Internet Explorer for free.'"

Complete Story

Meanwhile, CNET is reporting that Microsoft's practices have been a shot in the arm for Opera, which had more downloads last week than any other day in its history.

Here's what Opera has to say on the matter:


Microsoft exposed: Microsoft PR Spin Continues While Browser Lockout Still in Effect

Press Release -- OSLO, Norway - Nov. 1, 2001 - Opera Software ASA today issued a strong rebuttal to Microsoft's latest statements regarding the browser lockout on Microsoft's MSN portal. Microsoft's marketing department continues to spread inaccuracies to various media sources, while Opera users are still denied equal treatment on MSN.

At the unveiling of the new look of the MSN.com portal last Thursday, it became clear that Microsoft had begun to target users of non-Microsoft browsers. Users around the globe were furious, and reacted swiftly by communicating their disapproval. Thanks to their grassroots involvement, and the ensuing media frenzy, Microsoft officially backed down. Unfortunately their marketers continue to spread inaccuracies, and has yet to fulfill its public promise to open its portal to all Internet users.

In renowned computer journalist's Scot Finnie's latest newsletter (http://www.scotfinnie.com/newsletter/15.htm#opvsmsn) MSN's Director of Marketing, Bob Visse, continues to spread inaccuracies.

Microsoft's inaccuracy no. 1:
"When we developed the site, we tested it against the most popular browsers on the market."

Opera, the third largest browser on the Web, with millions of users, was obviously forgotten along with other rival browsers.

Microsoft inaccuracy no. 2:
"After receiving complaints from people who reported problems accessing the site, we looked into this issue further and determined that we had wrongly classified some browsers as "unknown."

What Microsoft really was doing, was revealed early last week in an article by Sandeep Junnarkar and Joe Wilcox of News.com: "Microsoft admitted that its technology was watching for Opera strings" (Source: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-7660935.html) Thus, Microsoft had not classified some browsers as "unknown" by accident; they were deliberately targeting at least Opera users.

Microsoft inaccuracy no. 3:
"We have now fixed this problem, enabling everyone to access MSN.com...We want to make sure that anyone can take advantage of the great services on MSN, regardless of which browser they are using. MSN.com will be available to everyone, effective immediately."

Opera users are still denied access to some MSN's services. An example is Carpoint.com, a part of the MSN portal. Opera users identifying their browsers as Opera are still told "Microsoft Carpoint that contains the latest new- and used-car features cannot be viewed using this browser." If the Opera users change their browser identification to "MSIE 5", easily done by changing the preference in File-Preferences.Networking-Browser Identification, they can gain access to Carpoint like any other browser. So, to use the service, Opera users have to mask as Internet Explorer users. MSN.com is clearly not available to everyone.

Microsoft inaccuracy no. 4:
"...we wish to reiterate our strong support for the Web specifications developed and supported by the World Wide Web Consortium and the software industry."

Users who try to test MSN.com at the W3C's site for validation, validator.w3.org/, will find that many pages on MSN.com do not validate.

Microsoft's first excuse to not accept other browsers was that other browsers did not support XHTML, according to Sandeep Junkar in News.com (http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-7655334.html) As a rebuttal to this claim, Opera made a relevant press release available in W3C-compliant XHTML on its Web site:http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/xhtml/20011026.xml. As any visitor can check for himself, Opera reads it perfectly, as opposed to Internet Explorer for Windows.

"I hope now we will see a change where action matches the words and that Microsoft starts to actively supports the international standards, and starts working on getting their pages to work with other browsers instead of closing the door," says Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "Microsoft has broken the Internet's golden rule that all Web sites should be accessible to all, no matter what browser or operating system they are using."

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