Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from
21:28, 25 Oct 2001 UTC | Edd Dumbill has taken the step of blocking non-Internet Explorer browsers from its web site, claiming lack of standards compliance as its reason for the action.

A report from CNET's explains the situation. Opera, Mozilla and some versions of Netscape are prevented from accessing the site. Users are instead presented with a message advising them to download Internet Explorer for Windows or Macintosh. It would seem users running Linux or other platforms are not even permitted to view the site.

The CNET report details Microsoft's response:

"All of our development work for the new is...W3C standard," said Bob Visse, the director of MSN marketing, referring to the World Wide Web Consortium, which is developing industry standards for Web technologies. "For browsers that we know don't support those standards or that we can't insure will get a great experience for the customer, we do serve up a page that suggests that they upgrade to an IE browser that does support the standards."
"We do identify the string from the browser, and the only issue that we have is that the Opera browser doesn't support the latest XHTML standard," said Visse.

A very generous mind may perhaps consider it understandable -- although against the spirit of the Web -- that platforms other than those that Microsoft develop for are excluded. However, the exclusion of competing browsing software with the flimsy, and markedly inaccurate, excuse of non-standards-compliance is a breathtaking perversion of Microsoft's participation in the whole web standards process.

This is clearly not an issue in which any member of the xmlhack editorial team can take an impartial stance, but we feel it important to bring to the attention of the XML community. We urge those involved in W3C standards to distance themselves from this cynical misuse of standards to achieve corporate aims.


Update: Other browsers are to be let back in, but MSN's Visse still persists in using the excuse of standards compliance, which is the most upsetting aspect of the whole saga. Standards are being used as a buzzword to throw up a smokescreen, continuing the steady erosion of what it actually means to have a standard.

Update: While Microsoft had claimed to open access, the outage continues.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Guy Macon - 10:08, 20 May 2003)

See for the real story.

Guy Macon, electrical engineer

In support of Microsoft (Brian A. Macek - 23:58, 1 Jan 2002)

While the Internet preceeds Microsoft by almost 30 years, it only blossomed into a staple of our society once Microsoft intergrated a web browser and networking software into it's OS.

The presence of a computer in everyone's home was achieved by Microsoft finally creating an OS that non-geeks could operate. That was a goal of their's since the early 80's, and now it has developed into a standard. A standard by which the internet has been able to become what it is today.

And though it may sound very anti-capitolist, but the folks at Netscape and Opera need to wake up and smell Microsoft's 90% market share of the the browser market. In my opinion, these two are only slowing us down. It is all about standards. And although it's rare to see someone in a free market economy rute for the big guy, but you would have never seen this message if Microsoft had not maintained this mentality from the very beginning.

> Re: In support of Microsoft (R. Downsen - 16:50, 1 Aug 2002)

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Gary - 22:32, 31 Oct 2001)

Have I misunderstood something? I thought creating a website was the control of the person paying for the creation of it. I guess I was wrong.

What I understand now is that Microsoft has an obligation to create web pages for other browsers than IE. Excuse me, where is the law that says this, and where does it end. Should they also create pages viewable in Netscape 2.0 and IE 2? Why not? According to the logic of the people complaining that is what is being said. OR am I misunderstanding that as well.

I guess Microsoft has no right to do something that they are paying for and that you, the viewer, are not paying for.

When people start paying Microsoft to develop, then and ONLY then do you have a right to complain!

Typical American attitude!

I still don't understand why is sooooooo important to Netscape users. There is nothing on the site that cannot be found elsewhere. Oh right, it has nothing to do with the site, it's all about MS bashing. If you don't like them, stop viewing their websites and buying their products. but no, that concept is too simple for the average american to consider.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Richard - 20:33, 29 Oct 2001)

Don't really care what microsoft does. I for one am keeping my distance. If everyone else did they may pay some attention. But as long as the average Joe just keeps sucking it in then they will keep dishing it out.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Kathy - 05:44, 27 Oct 2001)

Addendum: The CSS isn't valid either:


Validator Error: Target:

org.xml.sax.SAXException: Please, fix your system identifier (URI) in the DOCTYPE rule.

OK - I changed the extension to <.css> and threw it up on my personal server for validation. Here are the results:

W3C CSS Validator Results for

To work as intended, your CSS style sheet needs a correct document parse tree. This means you should use valid HTML.

Errors [Too Many To List]

So much for complying with standards. Be happy to share screen shots - and I've saved the error page for the CSS file.


Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Kathy - 05:21, 27 Oct 2001)

Has anyone else tested "inside" pages? So far, the only page that I've looked at (viewed source) that claims to be XHTML is the **home** page. I've tested six interior pages -- news and legal and various sections, including eShop and a link to a promo piece on XP -- and none have been converted to the "new look and feel" and they don't have ANY doc type declaration. Nada.

In addition, I had to "boost" the "view font at" size for MSIE Mac to read the home page. This made the copy on the interior pages of the site overly large.

The designers wouldn't be happy, but it renders on Navigator 4.77 Mac.

How can the company persist in its position that this is a "standards" issue in light of this?

But MSN *isn't* valid XHTML (J Wynia - 17:14, 26 Oct 2001)

Run the pages from MSN through the W3C validator. They aren't valid XHTML. If their pages validated, then their statement might have some weight (of course filtering out Mozilla 0.9.5, which does have XHTML compliance wouldn't be explained.) As it stands they're complaining about browsers not supporting a standard that they themselves aren't following.

> Re: But MSN *isn't* valid XHTML (Greg - 11:00, 28 Oct 2001)
  > Re: But MSN *isn't* valid XHTML (J Wynia - 15:41, 31 Oct 2001)

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (James Stevens - 09:38, 26 Oct 2001)

This shows the difference between the European and US approach to "standards". In Europe we tend to write a standard and expect (or enforce) its compliance. In the US a "standard" is the title given to a product that has more the 100 users.

Generally, the Internet has been built on *open* written standards (RFCs), which has been a good thing and probably one of the main reasons the Internet exists. Lets not spoil that now.

Both approaches have their advantages, in Europe I can use my digital mobile phone almost anywhere, keeping the same phone number. In the US there's relatively little mobile coverage, it mostly analogue and you often need a different phone / account / SIM / number for each geographic region.

BTW: I just accessed MSN with Netscape 4.77 and it worked fine. I have been a dedicated Netscape user since 1996, but recently changed to IE5.5 because its better - sorry Netscape, I hate to admit it, but its true. NS6 looks good, but needs a big performance boost.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Tim Guseynov - 07:46, 26 Oct 2001)

I support this Microsoft action. Though I have to admit that from the marketing pragamtical viewpoint this step may be dangerous for the corporation. Still, being a web programmer I'm damned tyred of those idiots from Netscape who constantly neglect the industry standards.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Simon Waddington - 00:39, 26 Oct 2001)

That's a shame and shortsighted. Yes XHTML is definitely a good step forward, but the Internet and Web community has always embraced and relied on backward compatibility as a necessity. Many companies simply cannot afford the instability introduced by enforced and frequent upgrades.

Someone should have told the genius at Microsoft that some of their latest browsers don't even support XHTML - like their Pocket Internet Explorer. I just tried it on an HP Journada PocketPC and got the same "upgrade required" message.

I think they could have found many more productive ways to promote and help along the transition to XHTML rather than attempt the big stick method.

Re: Microsoft uses standards to excuse blocking browsers from (Yevgeniy - 23:44, 25 Oct 2001)

Someone posted this link recently on the XSL-List. I think it's a good place to give some feedback ;)

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