MS accuses NS of JavaScript lockout

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 15 Aug 96 00:17:56 -0400

It's like tracking World War II -- trying to monitor warfare on dozens of
fronts simultaneously. Should W3C have been an intermediary in this battle?
This is a rhetorical question, but it revolves around our potential role as
the Switzerland of the vendor battles.

Basically, MS says NS modified some JavaScript on the NS homepage to defeat
browsers claiming NS-"compatible" UA strings. NS did not respond, so MS is
playing this to the hilt publically.

The goal is to 'liberate' JavaScript from NS/JS much as SSL was; their main
weapon in this arena is their promise of free source code for implementing
JScript, their version. No plans on record for managing change control of
*either* spec.

Note well that there was one very ballyhooed partner on the JavaScript launch
that has vanished from the arena: Silicon Graphics.


PS. Charles Cooper is one of PCWEEK's top journalists. The MS publicity
machine at work...


August 14, 1996 6:00 PM ET
Microsoft bigwig slams Netscape on JavaScript 'lockout'

By _Charles Cooper_

A senior Microsoft Corp. official said Netscape Communications Corp. is
guilty of dirty pool in the escalating competition between the two rivals for
the World Wide Web browser market.

Senior Vice President Brad Silverberg said that Netscape has written a
special script into its home page on the Internet designed to create problems
for users accessing the site using Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0.

"It's clearly a deliberate lockout," said Silverberg.

The Netscape Web site sniffs out the word "compatible" in a text string that
the browser automatically sends. Silverberg says the script was set up to
specifically detect Internet Explorer and shut it out.

"Netscape doesn't look good by deliberately locking out Microsoft," he said.
"It's hard to reconcile that with their claims of openness."

However, Netscape's vice president of marketing, Mike Homer, rejected
Silverberg's charge. He said there was a bug in the latest beta version of
Internet Explorer that caused JavaScript to render improperly.

"It would be stupid for us to lock out Internet Explorer users from our page.
There is no reason for us to do that," Homer said.

According to Homer, Netscape did install a JavaScript compatibility program
onto its home page, but said the reason was that the last beta release of
Internet Explorer contained a bug that was incompatible with JavaScript--and
that Netscape was afraid that Internet Explorer 3.0 beta users would not be
able to view the entire site as a result of the bug.

Microsoft officially unveiled Internet Explorer 3.0 Monday night. Silverberg
said the latest problems didn't surface in earnest until last week. He said
Microsoft has tried using a build of Internet Explorer that did not send the
text string "compatible," in order to test whether the company's JavaScript
implementation works.

He said Microsoft officials have unsuccessfully raised the issue with their
counterparts at Netscape. Today Microsoft formalized its complaint in a letter
sent to Netscape but Silverberg declined to divulge its contents.

"If they are saying we have bugs in our JavaScript implementation, I don't
think they've demonstrated that," he said. "We've been working on their page
better than they have. Just imagine if we had locked out Navigator how the
world would react.

"If they want to do that, fine, then they should admit that JavaScript is a
proprietary technology of Netscape's and amend their openness statement,"
Silverberg said.