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Re: Microsoft IE -- it just gets better and better

From: BearHeart / Bill Weinman <bearheart@bearnet.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 12:23:52 -0600
Message-Id: <>
To: mwm@contessa.phone.net (Mike Meyer), www-talk@w3.org
At 12:41 am 1/27/96 PST, Mike Meyer spake:
>>    User-Agent may not be the most technologically whiz-bang thing
>> you can think of for content-negotiation, but it works.
>If it works, then why did MS and others feel the need to use it (*)
>the way they did. The fact is, it DOESN'T work. The group doing the

   It works for what it's good for: I can have two versions of 
my Site: one for Netscape and one for Everyone Else. MS is trying 
to force me to have three--and I don't want to. 

   When the content-negotiation features of HTTP/1.1 become 
more than a set of words in a draft, I'll gladly use them. But 
for the time being User-Agent and Accept are what we have and 
they were working before MS threw a wrench in the works. That's 
my only beef here. 

>This IS content negotiation. Servers provide the pages with the best
>markup to Mozilla. If you want that content, you can either say you
>are Mozilla, 

>(*) They used it - they did the thing that gets the best results for
>THEIR users. 

   <sigh> But it doesn't get the results for their users. What 
it gets them is more confusion. When they were identifying themselves 
as "Mozilla/1.22 (compatible)", I believed that was their purpose. 

   But "Mozilla/2.0b3", without "MSIE" in any part of the string is an 
outright lie designed to break the system. They don't support ANY of 
the Moz 2.0 features--so what are they trying to do besides break 
the system? 

   Their making a configurable option for the user to put in whatever 
string they want is a mockery of the system and of all the efforts 
of this volunteer group. 

   Add to that their refusal to participate in the content-negotiation negotiations and their intention becomes clear: To force their way 
into the market and into the position of unilatterally setting the 

   That's not negotiation, that's terrorism. 

   MS is trying to force me to provide a separate set of content to 
their browser. Ant they're holding all my Netscape users hostage 
for it. 

>or convince thousands of webmasters to fix their

   The implication that their software is broken is short-sighted. 
If the facility was there to handle smaller granularity of variation 
in content, and the facility was there to specify it (which is 
what the content-negotiation folks are working on), then I would 
gladly support it. 

   But all I've got today is User-Agent and Accept. And "Accept" tells 
me nothing about what the client does with Tables, or Multi-Block 
GIFs, or Server-Push (multipart/x-mixed-replace), etc., etc., etc.  

>I've been seeing a lot of snake oil on the web lately, and I've always
>considered content negotiation based on user agent as such.  Convince
>me I'm wrong, and that you're successfully negotiating content based
>on user-agent. Tell me how you treat emacs-w3? IBrowse? Charlotte?

   You're implying that for it to be successful it must handle 
all variations as individual cases. That's not practicable. In 
theory, Yes it can be done; in practice, It's more work than value. 
I think you know that, and that's why you're supporting the efforts 
of content-negotiation in HTTP/1.1--and I agree with you. But it's 
no excuse for breaking what's working today. 

| BearHeart / Bill Weinman | BearHeart@bearnet.com | http://www.bearnet.com/ 
| Author of The CGI Book -- http://www.bearnet.com/cgibook/ 
Received on Saturday, 27 January 1996 13:24:09 UTC

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