Microsoft Blocking Firefox: Resolved

As an update to the issue I reported the other day, Microsoft has now fixed the problem on their server. They saw the buzz from Firefox supporters and corrected it in under 2 days. I’d like to personally thank Microsoft for the quick resolution. No word on that cryptic error message though.

The gradient on the top of some Microsoft.com pages is still broken (while in other places they replace it with an image). But that doesn’t hamper use of the site. Just appearance.

So thanks to everyone at Microsoft who resolved it, and those around the blogosphere for getting their attention.

Microsoft Blocking Firefox

It appears Microsoft is blocking Firefox from a number of it’s webpages. I’ve heard of this before, but now thanks to the new reporter tool, we have hard data to back it up. At the time I’m writing this there are 39 reports in the database. I should note that we have a little over 1000 users in the system at this point, so 39 reports is rather significant.

Most of the reports are about Firefox are that they are being told:

Sorry, we are unable to show you the page you requested. Please try again later.

In IE obviously the links work. Spoofing the user agent to that of Internet Explorer also has success. The area being reported is the downloads section of their site. Yes downloads worked. I tried several and had no problems.

Besides for illegitimately blocking Firefox, Microsoft has mislabeled their error message to encourage the user to “Please try again later?, as if it’s a server issue and will likely be resolved shortly. At least on Windows Update they say right away that it requires Internet Explorer, which is an honest dialog as Firefox does not support ActiveX which is used by AutoUpdate.

The only issue I can see with those pages is that the gradient on the top of the Microsoft site doesn’t render correctly. As I recall (and Asa blogged a while back) the css for it isn’t in the specs, hence unsupported in Gecko, though I haven’t verified that as I’m not a css guru. The same problem appears on the Microsoft homepage, but they don’t block that (presumably because the point of the page is to get people to buy things).

Come on Microsoft. You did move a bit towards standards. Save the browser sniffing for when it’s necessary (such as Windows Update). Let your customers use the browser that they feel comfortable using. Here’s a hint. We’re closing in on 65 million downloads in the next few hours. That’s 65 million people who believe in choice. Isn’t it time to respect computer users choices?

I hope to see Microsoft address and correct this issue.

Update: some report Firefox 1.0.4 working. Safari and OmniWeb seem to be blocked as well with that cryptic error message.

Update 2: It appears to be fixed now! Thanks to Microsoft for addressing it rather quickly (less than 2 full business days).