Google reverses course, stops harassing Opera users

Google reverses course, stops harassing Opera users

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Browser, Google
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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.

Topics: Browser, Google

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51 comments
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  • Still, Opera deservs its place among "supported" browsers

    Opera is very deeply developed and featured browser. The best built-in session management and the best built-in multi-account/password per site management systems
    DDERSSS
    • Uh, no...

      Companies get to choose what they support or not support (within reason). Support costs money and time (dev + test). You can write the best browser in the world, but if I don't see enough of it in my logs, I'm not going to bother supporting it.

      (fwiw, I'm normally *very* far from a Google apologist, but I did spend 12 years working in support (for a Google competitor)).
      Flydog57
      • But that browser detection is so 90's

        I'd also claim that it's entirely wrong to do so.
        A smart entrepreneur relies on well established, REAL, de jure standards these days.
        But Google want people to use Chrome of course.
        Mikael_z
        • I think the problem is...

          ...marketing drones Google got involved. The "try Google Chrome" part i'm pretty sure was their add-on.
          So, the moral is - don't let your kid become a marketing drone! :-P
          vgrig
      • Did you feel the same about MS

        Have you always felt this way?

        This reminds me of MS trying to influence people away from Netscape. In fact, this seems like all out manipulation. If Google wants to be consistent, they should slap such crud on every search result, blog entry, or other Google delivered content that is rendered in non-Chrome browsers.

        After all, if it isn't Chrome how can one be sure the page will display correctly?
        Raid60
        • Which makes it wrong

          Regardless of whoever does it.
          CaviarBlack
        • re: Did you feel the same about MS

          "This reminds me of MS trying to influence people away from Netscape. In fact, this seems like all out manipulation."

          But MS is still doing it today trying to switch my default search engine (Google) to Bing when I upgrade my IE...
          phill.erasmus@...
          • And Google is trying to get me to install Chrome

            I quite literally have completely stopped using Google searches on my home computers, Android tablet, and on both my work computers - I use anything except Google.

            Why?

            Becuase in part, the search results are not better than mynew preference. But also in large part, because I am tired of clicking that X so I stop seeing Google trying to get me to install Chrome.

            Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it.
            Raid60
          • Well it sounds like both of you all cancel each other out

            Which makes it a big fat 0
            CaviarBlack
        • Really

          Netscape, you need to get over that and move on, really!
          eargasm
          • Don't miss understand me

            Don't miss understand me, I have moved on from Netscape. Back then I didn't understand the differences between browsers. My point was simply to reveal What MS did back then was terrible, no doubt, but that today Google does the *SAME* thing and gets a pass by so many.

            One could argue that if MS makes an OS, invests hundreds of millions, or billions of its dollars, why shouldn't they have a say in what browser is default at start up? I don't believe that anti-competitive "tactics" are legal, therefore it is never excusable to intentionally write code that harms a competing product.

            But, but, but, Google is doing just that, albeit on a less grand scale, but none the less, the same thing.

            If anyone wants to point out that the percentage of Opera users is low then lets compare the number of Linux desktop users, eh? Opera has been a solid, well supported, great performing, standards compliant browser (more so than Netscape or IE) for many years.
            Raid60
      • Warning! Your Nissan is not supported by this car park.

        "Within reason" - that's the key here.
        Opera is a fine browser which I used for several years before switching to Firefox about a year ago.
        Its standards compliance and performance with CSS and JS handling are excellent, as evidenced in ACID/Spidermonkey tests.

        I can see no reason why Google would use browser detection to "warn" about a lack of support, any more than a car park would put up a sign saying "Nissans are not supported in this building".
        exolon
      • Wrong viewpoint

        One doesn't "support browsers". One supports **standards**. The browsers support the standards too, and then one doesn't need to worry about supporting browsers.
        jgm@...
  • Not On Bott's Watch

    Ed Bott emails, Google answers.
    jhnnybgood
  • So it was all for nothing?

    If the page didn't actually work with Opera, they wouldn't have done anything. I guess all of those people who were defending Google on this one were wrong.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • The test is:

      Set Opera to be masked as Firefox on that particular site, and try again.
      If it works ok, then the error message is false.

      I have tried similar with mask as IE many a time, and then the "unworkable" site nearly always works fine.
      hkommedal
  • The days of "supported" and "unsupported" browsers should be long gone.

    The days of "supported" and "unsupported" browsers should be long gone. Stick to the standards, do feature detection properly. Even do some browser sniffing in the rare cases where feature detection fails.

    But we're not in the days of IE6 anymore, it doesn't take a lot of effort to deal with browser differences. Opera is a modern browser, and certainly shouldn't be any different functionally from any other modern web browser.

    Granted, it's got a small market share - but we know how to account for browser differences, and there's no reason to keep doing this. What is this, the '90s?
    CobraA1
    • Written by someone who doesn't have practical experience

      As a web developer myself, I do stick to standards, use feature detection and all the rest but it doesn't help when a browser has bugs in its implementation.

      The difference between a "supported" and an "unsupported" browser is that you test everything on the supported ones and you won't necessarily write a workaround for a broken implementation on any unsupported browsers if they crop up (and they do).

      Just to correct your statement we have no way to account for browser differences. There is a reason why no browser currently gets 100% on the w3c test suites. You can produce code that will automatically cope with missing features but you can't automatically deal with buggy features and ALL browsers have bugs.
      mog0
      • "no browser currently gets 100% on the w3c test suites...."

        Yup, not even Chrome. ;)
        spstanley
      • I hear what you are saying however...

        As a faithful Opera user for many years now I have seen little reason to suggest that opera is any buggier than its competition. In my experience Opera has been a very capable browser in spite of the fact that most web developers likely do no compatibility testing for Opera. in spite of this rather remarkable fact the biggest problem I have had is websites that do in fact work perfectly well with Opera blocking opera so that I have to spoof another browser in order to access it. Once I have successfully tricked the site into believing Opera is one of its supported browsers I usually have no problems browsing the site.

        Web design is not my specialty but I do know enough about it to know that IE requires more custom work arounds than other browsers and especially more than Opera does. As a person who perhaps has more experience than myself, how much trouble is it to implement Opera workarounds compared to IE ones? I really like to keep an open mind so I appreciate some substance in an argument if one wants to convince me of their point.
        techadmin.cc@...