Google reverses course, stops harassing Opera users

After taking flak (and raising antitrust concerns) for pushing some users of alternative browsers to switch to Chrome, Google has made its error messages more neutral.

In response to complaints, Google has modified an annoying error message it displayed to customers who use the Opera browser to access the Blogger service.

As I reported last week , Google had been displaying an error message warning those users that their preferred browser was no longer supported. "Some parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems," the error message continued. And with the sort of aggressive promotion that makes antitrust investigators rub their hands together with glee, the message concluded: "If you are having problems, try Google Chrome." Those last two words were helpfully hyperlinked to the Chrome download page.

As several readers reported (and I confirmed independently), the same error message appears if you visit the Blogger site using Internet Explorer 7, and it also appears if you use IE8 or IE9 with Compatibility View enabled. (Using that setting tells the site to render the page as if you were using IE7's Standards mode.)

Over the weekend, I exchanged several emails with a Google spokesperson, who promised to follow up on the issue. Today, that spokesperson notified me that Google had modified the error message. I've confirmed that the message has indeed changed. Here's what you see now:

The warning is considerably softened, and the pitch to switch to Chrome is gone. Clicking the "supported browsers" link leads to the Blogger and browser compatibility page, which contains a matrix showing which combinations of OS and browser are supported. For Windows, the list includes IE8 and IE9, Firefox 3.6+, and Chrome. For current versions of OS X, supported browsers include Safari 4+, Firefox 3.6+, and Chrome.

And the most welcome change of all: Clicking Dismiss prevents the error message from reappearing in subsequent sessions or on different pages. Previously, there was no way to prevent the Google-run service from persistently displaying the annoying error message.

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