Browser discrimination?

The browser war has gone too far. I came across this website yesterday that literally stopped me from accessing it, because I was using Internet Explorer.

Getting the facts out of the way, Internet Explorer 6 is very insecure and non-standards compliant, but IE6 SP2 and IE7 improves that dramatically.

So this administrator has enforced a server-side script that checks my browser identification for the words “Internet Explorer”, and then if found, redirect me to a page promoting Firefox. What he forgets is that I could be using any variants of Internet Explorer, IE7 in this case but could extend to any newer versions, some of which could be just as secure and compliant as Firefox, so should I still be blocked access from the site?

The administrator calls it a “boycott of IE”, but in reality, it’s a boycott of his users who use IE. Why the hell would you want to do that? Why would you prevent potential visitors from viewing your site just because his or her choice of browser is different to yours? If you want people to change, educate them, don’t force them. For any reasons possible, some users can only to use Internet Explorer due to technical or external reasons, should they be punished for something they don’t have control of? This is not so different from another form of prejudice we all oppose, discrimination.

On a side note, the administrator also notes

I’m doing this in retaliation to there (Microsoft’s) exploitation of power to bully flash user and promote their MS sparkle. It’s time that the Flash community stands up agaist this attack on us.

This is just plain stupid. Microsoft Sparkle is an user interface design tool, similar to Macromedia Director or Adobe Photoshop. Sparkle makes XAML (XML markup) for WPF/E, which enables Flash-like rendering capability on devices ranging from cell-phones to internet browsers, and if anything, it’s a direct competitor to Adobe Flex, not Flash. So Microsoft is hardly bullying the Flash user, in fact, they may even bundle Adobe Flash player in Windows Vista if Adobe allows them.

What a strange site.

8 insightful thoughts

  1. I agree with you completely. And that guy should do some research on how macromedia treated linux users …

  2. Blah, all too many limit their websites to IE users, especially official company websites.

    But that’s ok, right?

  3. @Anon: It isn’t such a big problem that I can’t access the site, but I am being blocked from access due to my choice of web browser. I eventually gained access using Firefox.

  4. The funny part is that the site just looks like its all flash, with a very basic HTML cointaner. And it kinda looks like he is trying to seel his services.

    So, lock out a number of potential customers

    If you do get in just shows that he has Flash skills and no indication if he can actually code decent HTML/CSS/etc

    His site has a best viewd at 1024 x 768 – dont dictate to users their screen sizes

    And as stated his entire rationale seems flawed (tough I have’t fully investigated sparkle)

    If you change the User agent string in IE the site runs fine

    Flash isn’t exactly portable. Sure it runs on nearly evetything today, but if a new OS comes out tomorrow that doesn’t have flash support, they are hosed.

    In short, all he has done is ensure I’d never recommend his services to anyone, and made my already low respect for Flash get lower.

    And Palli, no it’s not right to limit any web site to IE only, but that that’s a different issue. Competent web developers can target all the relevant browsers.

    Wonder if anyone has bothered given him feedback? though personally I couldn’t care less and just move on to a site I can access. There is *nothing* on that site that warrents me actually going through hoops to access it

  5. I found this post while looking for a way to do what you are speaking against on my own little project site.. I’m a devoted FireFox user, and I think that me going back to IE are slim to say the least.

    While IE has gotten better with security, that does nothing to excuse the period of time when it was a big open screen door hanging half off it’s frame. Microsoft is this huge billion dollar a year company and they let that issue fester far too long. Too little too late sums it up I think.

    It seems like Microsoft is more concerned with protecting the RIAA, MPAA and US DoJ than the customers who fund thier businesses. Then that whole “Open-Source” issue comes up… that’s a biggie.

    It took the serious threat of a contender like Mozilla at thier door before they did anything. Honestly, if IE was not embedded in your OS, would you choose it over all the others on the shelf at the local OfficeMax?

    There’s an image floating around of what the iPod’s packaging would look like if the Microsoft marketing team designed it. Hits the nail on the head, funny part is that MS’s marketing dept DID do it. Google it, no joke, a few days after it leaked a MS guy fessed to it…

    So that being said, it’s a trust issue. They lost mine. So for now, I’m running FireFox on a WinME machine. I’m sure that some day I’ll make a move to linux, I’ve played with it in the past, but I’m not ready to make that move yet. I still shudder remembering the switch from Win\DOS machines to Win95.

    So now that that is out of the way… that’s where I’m coming from. And if a visitor comes to my page and hits this “Microsoft Internet Explorer is not compatible with the page you are trying to view…”, “Please consider switching to one of these fine alternatives…” The less computer experienced might find themselves with questions why someone would do that… maybe they’ll switch too. Being blocked by my page may start them on the road to alternative programs… a lot of people do not realize that many times you can get a comparable (if not better) program for no or sometimes little cost.

    It’s a scenario that has been played time and time again, remember back in the day? There was Intel, Cyrix, and AMD. Intel busted Cyrix down, and put a serious hurt on AMD. They defined an industry with thier Pentium Chips. But then AMD stared nipping on thier heels and now… Well, I’m a devoted AMD user. I will not own an Intel chip for as long as I can. David and Goliath? Either you throw your chips in with the big brute that powers over everything in it’s path… or you go with the little guy that uses cunning and nimbleness.

    Just my opinion… like it or not, I have mine- you’re welcome to yours.

  6. I’ve come across many sites like that… sites that block Firefox users (which is what I use) and sites that block or try to even crash IE. I remember one blogger (really crappy blog with no intelligence behind it at all) that blocked Firefox users due to the Adblock plug in, even though Opera AND IE7 both have the plug in. The site itself was covered in ads.

    I pretty much think the war is retarded and that people need to get a new hobby or something. Whenever I design sites I make sure they run correctly on IE7 (I don’t even worry about IE6 anymore), Firefox 2 (FF3 coming soon), Safari (which I hate) and Opera.

    BTW: I love this site. Keep up the good work.

  7. Of course that’s stupid why he doesn’t allow any IE-users on his site. And SPARKLE is, in fact, nothing but the codename of MICROSOFT EXPRESSION BLEND. Although I’m wondering what the site consists of, I am not downloading any web-browser…I’m sticking with INTERNET EXPLORER.

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