Internet Explorer 8 treasure hunt: Microsoft Australia hides $10,000 on a website, find it, keep it


Microsoft Australia is heating up the browser wars with what can be assumed as the first ever browser-exclusive treasure hunting competition on the internet. Now you might call this sneaky, but $10,000 Australian dollars (or roughly $8000 US dollars) is a pretty compelling reason to use Internet Explorer 8.

The “Ten Grand is Buried Here” competition involves finding a particular Australian website which only if viewed under Internet Explorer 8 reveals a special “claim” button for the cash prize. Hints will be given out on Twitter to where it is hidden throughout the competition until it ends on 17 September 2009, or until someone finds it first. I’m sure with so much at stake, no page will left unvisited.

Of course there’s no stopping from international users from also participating in the hunt, but the rules of the competition state only residents of Australia can claim the prize. So if you aren’t from Australia but have somehow stumbled across the treasure, it might be wise to pair up with an Aussie and give him a slice of the winnings. Without suggesting anybody in particular, my commission rates are very competitive.

Since it was launched today, there is a bug where Internet Explorer 8 users who downloaded the “Compatibility View” pack from Windows Update will be mistakenly identified as Internet Explorer 7 users since it automatically applies Compatibility View to, where this competition is hosted, but I’ve been notified the issue will be fixed soon.

Update: It appears the Compatibility View list cannot be overridden. Users are recommended to disable the compatibility view list by going to their “Tools” menu button, “Compatibility View settings” and unticking “Include updated website lists from Microsoft”. An amusing oversight to say the least.

Microsoft Australia is also sparing no punches if you used other browsers to view the competition page. Using Mozilla Firefox, you’ll see…

In Apple Safari, it reads “you’ll never find it using boring Safari”. In Google Chrome it reads “you’ll never find it using tarnished Chrome”. Unfortunately I do not have Opera handy to test what it says.

Personally I’m not sure if “get rid of it or get lost” sends the right tone, but I think it might reflect just how serious browser wars have become. I can definitely see different people reacting to this promotion differently, but I guess at least the person who scores $10,000 will be a big fan of IE8.

Update: Microsoft Australia has since changed the messaging of this campaign and even the concept of the competition to not discriminate between browsers. Users of all browsers are now invited to participate in the treasure hunt.

42 insightful thoughts

  1. hm…

    Browser war 1.0: Netscape VS Microsoft, Microsoft makes IE available for free vs paid product by Netscape. Netscape looses and dies.

    Browser war 2.0: IE becomes stale and is none standards based, Firefox, Opera or others launch competing products also for free. Microsoft is sued millions for anti competitive behavior when it included IE in the OS for free. IE 7 is released which gets a mostly lukewarm reception.

    Browser war 3.0: IE 8 is released but still gets no traction… Microsoft starts ‘paying’ users to start using their browser.

    What’s next?

    BTW, when you visit the site with Safari / Firefox on a Mac they ask you to upgrade to IE 8? WTF???

  2. This is just rigged. IE8 might be fine for browsing, but its a nightmare for web developers. Although saying that, the prize is a nice bribe for me to use IE8 🙂

  3. Try viewing the website with IE 8 on Win 7…

    Seems to think that you are still using IE 7! Someone at Microsoft failed to test their website for with compatibility Windows 7… Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come..

  4. @hello

    Just do our job. If we did our job, none of the sites would work on any internet explorer. IE is just a big mess when it’s about rendering sites correctly, and even Internet Explorer 8 is just one big mess, even if they say different.

    When I write my site’s, I work with Google Chrome, and within minutes I have everything working for that browser, because the language I need to write in (html, javascript, css) is all logic and read accourdingly.

    But then comes IE. Hours and hours need to be spend adding if-ie rules, rewriting or dropping functionality.

    For exampe, I’m currently working on a javascript to make it possible for advertisers to add links in a specific div, and do stuff with it. At the end, I take the source code that is left in that div, and save it with php. In google chrome and Firefox everything works fine. But in IE, all versions have edited the html codes inside that div in tons of different ways.

    for example, the real source code is:
    <a href="url" rel="nofollow">Anchor</a>

    IE6 would make something like this:
    <a href="url" rel="nofollow">Anchor</A>

    IE7 would make
    <a href="url" rel="nofollow">Anchor</A>

    IE8 would make
    <a href="url" rel="nofollow">Anchor</A>

    And not to forget, a messed up IE7 compat mode:
    <a href="url" rel="nofollow">Anchor</A>

    Oh, and one important detail. My html headers tell it’s using the latest standards, so those huge A’s are even forbidden to be used, because they need to be small.

    Eventually I got like 7 replacements for link only, only because of how IE just changes everything.

    How can we perform our job with that crap?

    I really hopw IE9 will move to Webkit engine. Microsoft creates great software, but they cannot make a decent browser engine. In stead of making it worse like with IE8, they should stop it, and work with what does work.

  5. “Unfortunately I do not have Opera handy to test what it says.”
    On Opera, it just says “But you’ll never find it using that browser.”

  6. @Peter van Dam

    If you design your site in chrome (or firefox) correctly. You should have no problems in IE8 and IE6.

    The latest site I’ve made so far displays fine in both IE6, Gecko and Webkit.

    IE8 seriously isn’t that bad. But besides, we should be embracing the fancy new effects of CSS3 with good scaling back so the Gecko/Webkit users get a better experience then IE users.

    Thats the view I’m taking, anyway

  7. Love Firefox but i love the idea of an Online treasure hunt. I’ll definitely give IE8 a go for a couple week

    When are the first clues released? This Friday?

  8. So I’m assuming this is “buried” in Australia? No chance for non-residents then.

  9. Bit of an embarrassing bug regarding the Compatibility View.

    Still, a chance to win $10,000 is always welcome.

    @Peter van Dam: Perhaps you should make sure your websites validate before criticising IE8 so strongly.

  10. 1: Get the user agent switcher addon for firefox add this user agent
    2: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/4.0)
    3: PROFIT

  11. darkfire you’re a friggin genius.. i was trying to think of that plugin myself but couldn’t remember it..


  12. rofl.. I wish I was still at Redmond.. I would have laughed at the IE team while mentioning this..
    Alas, this news comes a day after I returned home 🙁

  13. @darkfire
    Even easier mate. In firefox go to

    add new setting called general.useragent.override
    set it to Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/4.0; Bill Blows Goats Firefox Rocks)

    So lame microsoft, so lame…..

  14. @Bill Blows Goats: It’s even easier in Safari 4… just enable the developer tools and choose “Develop > User Agent > Internet Explorer 8.0″… Done!

  15. Turns out the page breaks if you have an empty user agent string. Very robust code there, Microsoft.

  16. So, either they’ve created this website using IE-specific code so other browsers can’t see it properly (which would only further demonstrate how non-standard IE is)…
    … the website will check to see if you’re running IE8 – which could be easily spoofed using what Bill Blows Goats mentioned.
    … or they’re just trying to piss of other users on this particular webpage and the site itself will load just fine with any browser.

    My bet would be either #2. And in that case, I really hope someone finds this page using Firefox, Safari, or another browser! Wouldn’t that be pie in the face of MS.

  17. “get rid of it or get lost”

    I see that MS Australia is still using 12-year-old copywriters.

    Either that, or the place has become a haven for those marketing dweebs who have emigrated from the US because “Redmond has lost its arrogant edge”.

    I’d be very surprised if the exec who sanctioned this unpleasantry has much of a future with Microsoft.

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  19. WTF?
    They’re having to bribe people into using their shit?
    $10 grand ain’t with it.
    Fuck Off MS.

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