Microsoft has alerted users that Netscape's latest browser appears to break the XML rendering capabilities in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Dave Massy, a senior programme manager for IE, warned users in a blog posting that after installing Netscape 8, IE will render XML files as a blank page, including XML files that have an XSLT transformation.
Microsoft did not make clear what versions of IE were affected, but a user of the DeveloperDex forum said he experienced the problem on version 6 of IE, which had been patched with Windows Service Pack 2. The forum user, known as cybarber, said this issue has put him off using Netscape.
"This is really really bad," said cybarber in the posting. "Netscape was dead and now I will bury it so deep it will never surface. Internet Explorer (7?) is all I need."
Microsoft said it was investigating the problem and will work with Netscape to resolve it. It advised a "work around" of uninstalling Netscape 8 and editing the registry settings.
One reader of the blog said the rendering problem could be a problem with IE, rather than Netscape. He suggested that such a feature could be useful for Microsoft as it would deter users considering a migration from IE to Netscape.
"I really don't want to sound cynical, sarcastic or satirical, but that is one hell of a way to prevent users from switching to another browser. Are you guys absolutely sure it's a conflict with IE?" said the reader, called Tony.
But another reader, Chris Beach, came to Microsoft's defence. "Cue endless conspiracy theories about Microsoft's 'dirty tactics'. Honestly, the rubbish you [Microsoft] have to put up with… my heart goes out to you guys. Keep up the good work with IE7," said Beach.
This issue will be another blow to Netscape, which released Netscape 8 only two weeks ago. Only a day after launching Netscape 8 and touting the browser's security features, the company released an update to fix several serious security flaws.