Windows Live Shopping for IE Windows only

Robert Nyman took a few minutes out of his recently started parental leave to send me a link to Microsoft Live Shopping Launches - But No Firefox, posted at TechCrunch.

If it had been a redesign it would easily have qualified as a Failed Redesign, but Microsoft’s new Shopping is not a redesign. It is a brand new site, developed in the age of web standards. Sadly, but hardly surprisingly, the site ignores web standards and is only open to people who use Internet Explorer for Windows. All other browsers are redirected to a not supported page that says “We’re sorry. Windows Live Shopping Beta does not yet support Firefox [sic].”

Ok, so it is a Microsoft site, and of course they don’t want anybody to use any other browser than Internet Explorer or any other operating system than Windows, but come on. You just don’t launch a new site that only supports a single browser anymore. That is a thing of the distant past. And if you do, at the very least you should get your browser sniffing right.

Browser incompatibilites aside, I just don’t see the point of Live Shopping’s easier-to-use interface built on 100% AJAX technology [sic] (Ta Da!) that makes really good use of familiar AJAX technologies including inline preview and drag and drop [sic] (Windows Live Shopping Beta Has Hatched). Drag and drop is AJAX now? Whatever. Drag and drop always makes me feel like it’s 1999 again.

I actually had to take a look at the site in IE/Win to see what the big deal was, and uh… well… it isn’t. But Live Shopping is a great example of using technology for technology’s sake.

Posted on May 1, 2006 in Quicklinks, Web Standards


  1. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised. Even the Live website is horrendous. Microsoft just doesnt get it, and the simplicity of other sites is what will continue to kill them and their attempted web apps. They always seem one step behind.

  2. I give them credit for eventually supporting firefox. In this point in the game, Microsoft can’t afford not to take risks. They’re a big company and therefore have to spend more resources on “experimental” projects.

  3. and accessibility wise, it’s obviously pretty crappy as well. disappointing, really…

  4. Well, I’ve been using the Windows Live Mail beta, (the supposed next generation of Hotmail), for a couple of months now to acces my Hotmail account and the Firefox support has gone from ‘next to none’ all the way to ‘sort of’. I can use Firefox but half the features, (like a preview pane), are missing, and it gets error messages wrong.

    With that precedent I’m not surprised at all the Windows Live Shopping locks out all non IE/Win users entirely. I find that this whole Windows Live experiment relies too much on proprietary software, even for Microsoft.

  5. Even if it did support Firefox, the clutter on that site makes my eyes hurt.

  6. May 2, 2006 by Maarten van Soest

    According to Phil Holden, director of Windows Live, Microsoft will fully support Firefox and Opera. Safari is being considered. The goal is to eventually not require the use of Internet Explorer for their Live sites. So I guess there’s hope.

  7. As much as I’d love for it to support multiple browsers (not just Firefox), it is a beta and it does say that the browsers that aren’t IE just aren’t supported yet. I don’t see why people are complaining at this point. I think Microsoft got the point after the first complaint and were likely intending to not have immediate support so that they can build the feature set and then provide the same support to the other browsers.

    It’s really no different from how standards-based developers code in a standards compliant browser and then build to support older or less compliant ones. I guess the only would be that this is a public beta.

    Either way, too early to complain, especially since it’s fairly clear that Firefox and other browsers will be supported in the future.

  8. I just love the approach they’ve taken to work around DOCTYPE Sniffing! They’re using conditional comments to pass IE7 an HTML 4.01 Transitional DOCTYPE without a System Identifier and an XHTML 1.0 Transitional DTD for other versions of IE.

    Given the comment starts before the DOCTYPE, IE6 and earlier trigger quirks mode, and because IE7 has fixed that bug, they’re passing a different DOCTYPE known to trigger quirks mode. I just think that’s hilarious!

  9. I switched back to hotmail after a week of beta testing their Live Mail because of this exact same issue.

  10. Yes to all of the above. They are Microsoft though so I’m not terribly surprised, but give them their due every now and then they do manage to give me a good chuckle.

    So I had a look at the site in Firefox, just to see the what content they did give on the error page. Then I wanted to see the site as it should be seen, only that can’t be right, staring back at me is the same error page iside IE, and telling me that they don’t support Firefox.

    Made me smile anyway. :-)

  11. May 2, 2006 by Ryan

    Oh man I love the way they say it doesn’t support firefox on the warning page when I’m not even using firefox.

    How come tiny little companies and individuals can get these things working properly but one of the biggest corporations in the world is completely incapable!

  12. Browsing on a dialup connection, waiting for the multiple redirects (load..wait..load). Nothing surprising, though. This is just garden-variety Microsoft bloat.

  13. Well said, Roger. One must be allowed to wonder if there were any professionals involved in the launch. Head-shaking.

  14. Does anyone else notice that most of the “AJAX functionality” is just simulating page-loads anyway? Why in the world would you develop a system that loads a new page, which in turn uses AJAX to load that product’s photo and description? Why wouldn’t you just do it all on the round-trip and be done with it? This reminds me of the Macromedia site from the late 90s that wasted time loading the Flash plugin to render text that could have easily been rendered with simple HTML.

    Congratulations, Microsoft! Once again you spent money developing a technology worth less than a pile of elephant crap.

  15. I’m with you on the drag and drop, Roger. I don’t understand how drag and drop (which is a three step process) is supposed to be a “much better experience” that is “easier-to-use” than the traditional, single click Add to Cart.

  16. I looked at the site. Meh. If I can’t go there with my prefered browser, no big deal for me. I was instantly bored. What a difference from

    That said, being a beta is no excuse for the site not being standards compliant. You should build standards-compliant from the ground up, not tack it on at the very end.

  17. May 2, 2006 by Peter Bird

    Not to be the grammar police or anything, but what’s the point of the “[sic]” in the quotes above? I thought that was intended to be added if you quote a passage that has some kind of grammatical error in the original. I can’t find any errors though - is it just me?

  18. May 2, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Peter: Unless I am wrong (and I could be - please correct me if I am), “[sic]” can also be used to point out other oddities that may be mistaken for a transcription error.

    Wikipedia’s definition of sic:

    Sic is a Latin word meaning “thus” or “so.” In writing, it is italicized and placed within square brackets - [sic] - to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling, phrase or other preceding quoted material is a verbatim reproduction of the original quoted material and is not a transcription error.

  19. that site is a right minger!!

    at least they provide an error page for firefox - if you visit it in IE5 the page just dies and all you see is white!!

    certainly a bit of a shambles

  20. My God, even when I put it into IE it didn’t work properly; it took ages to load then stalled and crashed. It takes some nonsense to do that. They always seem to have the shortest, worst approach to the “newest” shiny thing.

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.