Personal Tech Pipeline | Netscape 8 Breaks IE; Uninstall It, Microsoft Says

White Papers

Sponsor Resources

Free Newsletter GlossaryContact UsAbout Us
Players & CamsPhones & PDAsHome & AutoOnline

May 27, 2005

Netscape 8 Breaks IE; Uninstall It, Microsoft Says

Courtesy of TechWeb News

A Microsoft developer on the Internet Explorer team said that a bug in rival browser Netscape means users should uninstall the competitor, an overreaction Netscape's owner, America Online, on Friday called "just plain silly."

The issue, according to Dave Massy, a senior programming manager with Microsoft's IE development team, is that Netscape 8, which released just last week, breaks IE's ability to render some XML (Extensible Markup Language) pages.

"We've confirmed that after installing Netscape 8, the XML rendering capabilities of Internet Explorer no longer work," wrote Massy in an entry to the IE team's blog.

Some pages, including RSS feeds, which use XML, appear blank in Internet Explorer after Netscape 8 is installed. Although Massy didn't specify which versions of IE were affected, TechWeb confirmed the problem on systems with IE 6 running on Windows XP SP2. Massy offered up a Microsoft XML-based page as a sample.

Users' immediately weighed in with theories as to the cause of the bug, with comments posted to Microsoft's blog ranging from the dubious to the supportive.

"I really don't want to sound cynical, sarcastic or satirical, but that is one hell of a way to prevent users from switching to another browser," wrote one user identified only as "snowknight."

Talk like that quickly set off others. "Cue endless conspiracy theories about MS's 'dirty tactics,'" retorted reader Chris Beach.

Massy only threw fuel on the fire by saying that in order to fix the problem users must uninstall Netscape.

"That's just silly," said America Online spokesman Andrew Weinstein when asked about Massy's recommendation. "This is a very minor issue. The average user is never going to see an XML page. The only users who potentially might see this as a problem are programmers and developers. For the average user, it's zero."

Even so, Netscape online support representatives said they were sorry for the screw-up. "We apologize for the inconvenience that this bug has caused you," one wrote on the Netscape Brower Review forum. "This certainly isn't desired behavior. The development team is hard at work on a patch."

Weinstein confirmed that a patch was in the cards. "We're working on a fix, and should have something ready for auto update next week," he said.

Netscape 8 has been touted by AOL as a more secure browser than either IE or Microsoft's main rival, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox. In fact, while Netscape 8 is based on Firefox code, it also uses IE's rendering engine to display some Web sites.

One of the mysteries of the Netscape goof is that in order to correct the problem, users must not only uninstall that browser, but also must manually edit the Windows Registry, a scary thought for most users, and a practice even Microsoft traditionally warns against.

"If Netscape 8 remains installed, then the registry key is continually rewritten," said Microsoft's Massy in explaining why users had to muck in the Registry.

"We didn't intentionally change that registry key," said Netscape support.

"I don't know why the key was changed," said Weinstein. "But I imagine, since Netscape uses IE's engine, that it's to do with that."

This is the second embarrassment to Netscape in as many weeks. Just hours after it launched on May 19, AOL updated the browser to patch three security vulnerabilities in the Firefox-based code.

E-mail This Story
Print This Story
Reprint This Story

Get the latest Personal Tech news, product info, and trends every week.

Related Content

  Right-click and choose Copy to extract RSS Feed URL  Personal Tech Pipeline's Main RSS Feed
  Right-click and choose Copy to extract RSS Feed URL  Personal Tech Pipeline's Blog RSS Feed

Keeping Up To Date On Enterprise Server Tech?
Review our compilation of columns on server security, database software, and Linux issues.
Unleash the Power & Opportunity of Grid Computing
Experts will identify trends in grid computing, provide
examples and examine solution options.
Using Current Performance to Shape
Future Results

Hear new strategies for improving business
performance and results.

Editor's Picks

Well, Microsoft has "unfolded" its "Origami" ultra-mobile PC platform Thursday. It turned out to be a full-featured PC smaller than a tablet but bigger than a PDA. Are you impressed?
Yes! I want one!
Sort of. We'll see.
No! It's too big for a pocket and too small for real computing. What's the point?

In search of personal tech products? See our new Product Finder, where you'll find personal computing devices, communications solutions, security products, and more.

Symantec Backup Solutions
Desktop to Data Center Protection. Explore the Official Symantec Site. Business sale
through March 31 save 10% on select IBM eServer� IntelliStation� and xSeries� Express models, 5% on select warranty products, 10% on IBM Certified Used Equipment including notebooks and desktops and 70% on Storage Enterprise Server (2105-800P)

Save Big On IBM Certified Used Equipment
IBM Quality at a fraction of the price of new! IBM Certified Used Equipment provides access to a broad selection of used IBM systems, upgrades and features, including newer equipment. All systems are factory-refurbished with a 3-month guarantee.

Buy, Sell or Rent Used Cisco Equip-Save up to 85%
Digital Warehouse buys, sells, & rents used Cisco networking hardware such as routers & switches, as well as Juniper, Extreme & Foundry at 50-80% off list price. One year warrantee and fast delivery.

Stop Spam at the Mail Server with CanIt-PRO
Roaring Penguin's CanIt-PRO anti-spam solution offers customizable spam and virus control for enterprises, campuses and ISPs. Designed for the mail server, CanIt-PRO lets you stop spam on YOUR terms. Click for free price quote for your organization.

Buy a Link Now

Top ten search terms from the TechWeb TechEncyclopedia
Stellent eSeminar "Approaches to Metadata Design" on March 23
Mobilized Solutions Guide: Find and compare solutions for your business
Top Requested White Paper Categories from TechWeb White paper Library
Top ten search terms from the TechWeb TechEncyclopedia