Microsoft lets some browsers back into MSN

Microsoft Corp. said Monday that users can once again access its MSN.com portal with Web browsers that compete with its own Internet Explorer product, although at least one rival browser appeared still to be locked out Monday afternoon.

The fuss started Thursday when Microsoft upgraded its MSN.com property in a way that left many non-Microsoft Web browsers unable to view the site. Users unable to access the site were told their Web browser was unsuitable and offered the chance to download Microsoft's own browser instead.

The company said at the time that some browsers weren't able to display the site because they didn't support XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language), a standard for rendering Web pages set by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).

Microsoft said Monday it had tested the new MSN.com site against "the most popular browsers on the market." However, after receiving complaints from users who had been locked out the software maker determined that it had wrongly classified some browsers as "unknown." The classification is typically reserved for old browsers which are known to not work on MSN.com, the company said.

Among the browsers unable to access the site were the Opera browser from Opera Software A/S, the Mozilla browser, and the HotJava browser from Sun Microsystems Inc. The site should now be accessible to all users, effective immediately, Bob Visse, MSN's marketing director, said in Monday's statement.

However, that didn't appear to be the case. Attempts to reach the site Monday afternoon using the HotJava browser were unsuccessful, returning an error message.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said she had not heard about an issue with the HotJava product. "I haven't heard anything about that specifically," said the spokeswoman, who asked that her name not be used. "Any browser should have access to MSN.com."

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