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Microsoft to non-MS Browsers: Access Not Denied

Microsoft is revising a policy that refused users of the Opera, Amaya, Netscape, and Mozilla Web browsers access to the Microsoft Network (MSN) home page. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed last night that Microsoft will be overhauling the MSN home page to allow users of any browser access to the popular Web portal.

A Microsoft representative from the company's PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, confirmed Thursday evening that Microsoft will soon be offering support to a wide variety of browsers, including Opera, Amaya, Netscape, and Mozilla.

Currently, users of non-Microsoft Web browsers are denied access to MSN and told that they need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer in order to access MSN. In response to queries from several readers, we tested the Amaya, Netscape, Mozilla, and Opera browsers against MSN and received the following message:

If you are seeing this page, we have detected that the browser that you are using will not render MSN.com correctly. Additionally, you'll see the most advanced functionality of MSN.com only with the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer or MSN Explorer. If you wish to visit MSN.com, please select the appropriate download link below.

Following this message were links to Microsoft IE download sites.

Only Netscape Navigator 4.7 loaded the MSN home page, albeit with errors that misplaced graphics and caused the left navigation bar to be misaligned.

This message was displayed even with the latest versions of Opera 5 configured to identify itself as Internet Explorer. Opera can be configured to identify itself as different browsers, including Mozilla and Internet Explorer, in order to fool browser sniffers configured for specific browsers.

The MSN Web site was enhanced this week in conjunction with the release of Windows XP. It is not clear whether these "enhancements" are truly required on a technical level: when MSN subpages, such as http://photos.msn.com/, were loaded directly into Opera, Mozilla, and Amaya, the pages were rendered perfectly. According to Microsoft Web site, MSN's enhancements were designed to more closely integrate Microsoft's Web offerings with Microsoft Internet Explorer.