Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Argos Agitation

Back in August, when I first saw the light and switched to Mozilla, I visted the Argos web site, only to be greeted with this message:

Sorry, the Argos Internet site cannot currently be viewed using Netscape 6 or other browsers with the same rendering engine.

It implied a Gecko-compatible version was ‘coming soon’, but nine months on and it still doesn’t work.

Other sinners include Marks and Spencer who shut out Mozilla and Opera users over ‘security and usability’ issues. Ahem – Mozilla is more secure than IE and had you designed the site to be cross-platform then usability wouldn’t have been an issue, now would it? NatWest also blocks those who are not using IE or NS4.x from using its online banking site. To make matters worse, the service was only relaunched with a new design recently. Why didn’t they take the opportunity to add support for other browsers? After all, banks like the Halifax support Gecko.
These companies were all named in a Register article from 25th October 2002 – it’s evident that despite coverage from what is arguably an influential internet news site, these companies still cut people out. It makes me all the more keen to join Mozilla’s tech evangelism project to get sites to move towards a standards-compliant approach.
Evidence shows that use of non-Microsoft browsers is growing, largely because IE’s dominance on the Mac platform is being threatened by Safari and Camino which are superior in speed and function, and because of a move towards Linux in corporate environments where MS have been pricing their customers to death. If these trends continue, then IE’s market position may well decline, and these companies will be missing out on trade. As it is I will refuse to buy anything from these companies until they lift their restrictions on non-IE browsers, and I hope others will do the same.


  1. Banks ‘n’ Browsers

    While most sites nowadays are compatible with most modern browsers, it seems that Internet banks lag behind the times. Often, if you’re not an IE user, you don’t have a prayer – fine if you’re a Windows/Mac user but what if you only have Linux or some …

  2. I’ve noted that Safari doesn’t work with my bank either so still stuck with IE.

  3. Just for the record, Bank of America ( has done a wonderful job of making its online banking extremely accessible. I’ve done my banking from Solaris with Netscape and Mozilla, Mac OS X with everything but IE, and from Linux with Mozilla (I think I may have even used Konquerer.) At least one does it well.

  4. OmniWeb (for Mac OS X) has a compatibility option that lets you trick sites into thinking that you are using any of a number of browsers other than what you really are. I just set it to “IE 5.0 for Macintosh” and surf along. It lets me go anywhere I want without actually having any Microsoft droppings on my computer.
    (Go get it and support Omni)

  5. The thing that annoys me about these functions which change the user agent is that they do not solve the problem. The fact is that in most cases the ‘browser-sniffing’ scripts are too sensitive – Mozilla is a victim of this because it effectively brands itself as Netscape 5 and so companies that check for 6 and above will miss it.
    I think the key is to use alternative browsers in their normal modes, so that webmasters will realise there is an increase in the use of non-MS browsers. It’s for this reason that no-one can be sure how many Opera users there are, since many have their browsers set in compatibility mode.