Microsoft's MSN hides behind cynical web standards excuse
by Edd Dumbill
In a breathtakingly cynical move, MSN have blocked many web browsers from their site -- including all Mozilla browsers -- claiming lack of compliance with W3C standards as an excuse.
The move is detailed in a story carried today on CNET's News.com. Users of alternative browsers,
including Opera and Mozilla, are instructed 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.
Bob Visse, the director of MSN marketing, excused the action saying that the
reason these browsers are locked out is because MSN either don't know
that they "support W3C standards" or they can't insure the customer will
get a "great experience."
"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. "So we do suggest to those users that they go
download a browser that does support the latest standards."
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 inaccurate, excuse
of non-standards compliance is a breathtaking perversion of Microsoft's
participation in the whole web standards process.
I strongly urge all 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. Practically nothing said with respect to standards in this episode held any truth value at all.
- My post to the XML developer's mailing list, highlighting the situation
- The Selfish Tag -- an explanation of why web standards aren't always good for you, and why you can't trust those who are involved in making them.
Validate MSN's home page for standards compliance -- reports invalid XHTML at the time of writing. How sweet.