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MSN Blocking Right-Click In Firefox?

Reports from HTMLfixIT that MSN.com is blocking right-clicks from Mozilla-based browsers, like the popular Firefox, with a script that specifically activates in Mozilla browsers and forces the browser to interpret them as left-clicks. This breaks many of the features of that browser, and could be a tactic to frustrate users of Microsoft’s competitor’s products. Coolz0r confirms that when he right-clicks on a link on MSN.com, it goes right through, no context menu.
(via Opera Watch > Findory)

UPDATE: As Larry points out below, they’ve released an update which points the blame not at Microsoft, but at Firefox. Apparently there’s a bug in Firefox that creates this problem. Looks like the headline should be “MSN Reveals Firefox Bug”, although I suspect this is a known bug:

Update: It has since been revealed by the gentleman apparently responsible for the MSN script causing the problem that it is an unintended effect and could possibly be a bug in Firefox 1.0.4. I should note that I did not state it WAS an intentional effort to block alternative browsers, I simply implied it might be. I believe that that is a reasonable theory in light of the fact that such things have happened at MSN before.

And here’s part of what Scott Isaacs said, which they linked to:

The reality is the right click button is not working most likely due to a bug in Firefox (mozilla is still investigating). Firefox is incorrectly firing the onclick event on the document when the right mouse button is depressed. We are capturing the onclick event and canceling it to stop the page from navigating (MSN.com does some processing first). This has been the spec’ed behavior of onclick since 1997 (I wrote the original DHTML event bubbling spec). Now that we are aware of this issue in Firefox, we are implementing a work-around.

Now, for the script referenced as the culprit. That script is an API compatibility layer so we can develop scripts once without having to do any browser detection. Yes, that’s correct, that script enables us the opportunity to more efficiently deliver a better experience to Firefox users. The reason the right click menu started working after disabling the script is because all the page’s event handlers were also disabled.

Furthermore, we were notified by Mozilla about the problem on MSN.com when the blog entry was posted (yes we talk - I have known the chief architect of mozilla for over 8 years, and I will even request the help of the mozilla team when we have technical issues). I discussed and isolated this specific issue with the mozilla organization.

Our goal is to provide the best possible user experience. Before yesterday, Firefox users on Spaces had to enter their HTML manually (while IE users got a rich editing experience). Yesterday MSN Spaces shipped a brand new rich text editor that works in both Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Overtime you may find other “differences” in functionality. Unfortunately, each browser has its own idiosyncrasies and occasionally these type of issues will crop up. Instead of assuming the worst, contact us, let us know, and we will do our best to understand, fix, and explain the issue. Posting unsubstantiated claims in a blog entry (and all the residual blogs that post about it) serves no purpose and causes much more harm than good.

June 28th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, MSN, General | 3 comments

Gates Confirms HD-DVD Xbox 360 A Possibility

Bill Gates said in Tokyo that while the Xbox 360 will launch with a regular DVD drive, future versions of it may incorporate an HD-DVD drive. Ployer reports Gates said “The initial shipments of Xbox 360 will be based on today’s DVD format. We are looking at whether future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capability of an HD DVD player or something else.”

As long as Microsoft does this smartly, it could be a great way to boost 360 sales mid-cycle and extend the life of the platform. The kicker is that Microsoft must make an upgrade available to existing owners, or it will piss off the userbase. If they do this, it means that they can have the cost benefits of using cheaper DVD, and the storage benefit of HD-DVD when games become too big for regular ole’ DVD.

June 28th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox, General | no comments

IE7 In XP Will Have RSS Features

Todd Bishop has a statement from Microsoft on its RSS plans for Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, which should see its first beta within the next several months. Microsoft does indeed plan on bringing the most basic RSS features to IE7XP, including the common feed list.

Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP SP2 will focus on interoperability, providing basic RSS functionality for discovering, viewing, and saving RSS feeds to the common feed list. Longhorn goes much further with a comprehensive platform for handling of RSS feeds. Specifically the common data store and sync engine will only be available in Longhorn to easily enable any developer to add RSS capabilities to applications.

Excellent…

June 28th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Gates Give Over $400 Million To Fight Disease

Bill Gates is using his money to help out again, this time to fight disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced 43 new projects totaling $436 million.

From the Associated Press:

The money will pay for research ranging from finding AIDS vaccines to boosting the nutritional content of bananas.

Among the projects funded:

  • A research team will get $5million to create childhood vaccines that don’t need refrigeration. The vaccines could be distributed in packets for people to mix with water and drink.
  • Four grants totaling $47 million are being given to researchers fighting malnutrition by genetically boosting the nutritional content of bananas, cassava, rice and sorghum.

June 28th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | 4 comments