Browser compatibility is a very tricky thing. The websites you visit all are built upon historically loosely adhered web standards. On top of that, the browsers you use every day, until recently, standards haven’t always been a priority. So, what the heck am I trying to say?! Basically, it’s a tough job sometimes, but because each browser tells us who and what it is, we’re able to code around browser inconsistencies, and provide a user experience identical between browsers.
So, what’s the technical issue you ask? Well, think of it this way, we’ve all eaten a microwave dinner before. Each dinner has a set time that you need to leave it in the microwave for. Well, what if someone went into the grocery store, and mixed up the instructions on all of the microwave meals? Everyone who bought those meals would either get a cold dinner, or a 15 minute cleanup job after the dinner exploded. This is exactly what some of you are experiencing with our products.
Our colleagues at Advanced Access have an incompatibility in their 3.0 product thus rendering up to date Internet Explorers (specifically version 7) useless in areas of the product. Now, we’re NOT trying to pick on anyone, we are simply trying to support our customers (AA, if you’re reading this, and anything I have said is inaccurate I will correct and cite any errors). To deal with this, they have had their users tell Internet Explorer to advertise that it is an older version than it really is (specifically telling IE7 to say it’s IE6). Well, fortunately this doesn’t cause frozen meals to explode, but it does make it impossible for a web developer to provide a consistent user experience for these fake-IE6-but-really-IE7 browsers.
Luckily not everyone subscribes to Advanced Access services, however every person that has followed their advice may be dealing with more and more websites that either look strange, or just plain don’t work.
So, after that lengthy explanation, if you ARE an Advanced Access switcher and aren’t sure if you’ve told your IE7 to say it’s IE6, go here: http://www.useragentstring.com/ and if it reads Internet Explorer 6, but you know you’re running 7 (hint: if you can make tabs in your IE, you have 7+) then you need to follow the instructions below.
The two ways we know that you may have changed your User-Agent string are via an installation downloaded from Microsoft, or via a “registry” file.
To find out if you’ve installed the Microsoft file go to “Add / Remove Programs” in your “Control Panel”, accessible from your “Start” menu. In “Add / Remove Programs” look for “User Agent String Utility” (click pictured at right for detail). If you find this item, click on it and press “Remove”, then follow the on-screen prompts. Afterwards, you should be a-ok.
If you do not have the Microsoft utility installed, it’s likely you have changed your registry. Because the windows registry is such a fickle beast, we really need to talk with you over the phone on how to correct any registry problems you have. This is because messing with your registry can sometimes be harmful to your computer, and we would like to diagnose the status of your Internet Explorer and registry before we advise any action.
Ok, that’s about it. I know this is extremely confusing, so if your User-Agent string doesn’t match up at http://www.useragentstring.com/ and you don’t know what to do, call us!