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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

3 Comments »

  1. Not that I visited MSN all that often before reading this, but now I have good reason to never visit it at all.

    Tested it myself as well, had the same issue. Bad move by Microsoft. Not like it’s going to make me switch to IE or anything, it’s just going to make me not use their service at all.

    Comment by matt | June 29, 2005

  2. I dont use MSN.com. Even if I want to use then I have Adblock and Greasemonkey which can be configured to take care of this. :)

    Comment by Saravanan | June 29, 2005

  3. Nathan, check the link again - before /. jumps all over this, it appears to be a bug in Firefox.

    Comment by Larry Osterman | June 29, 2005

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