Lizard simulation

Microsoft is apparently weary of, or embarrassed by, browser sniffers:

Some websites serve certain versions of Internet Explorer (we’re looking at you, 6) with custom CSS code in order to make sure the website displays in a readable way. These practices are known as “CSS hacks” and target IE6, 7, 8 with a different type of CSS code than other browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft have replaced the “MSIE” string, which identifies the browser to the website as Internet Explorer, with just “IE,” meaning host websites won’t be able to use their current CSS hacks on IE11. To further ensure IE11 users don’t receive an odd version of the site, Microsoft also included the command “Like Gecko” which instructs the website to send back the same version of the website as they would to Firefox.

I have exactly one CSS hack for IE on this site. (If you care, it’s based on this one.)

If you’re not used to user-agent strings, here’s the one I leave behind:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:19.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/19.0

“NT 5.1,” in case you’ve forgotten, is better known as “XP.” (Windows 8, however, is not 8.0, but 6.2.) Every browser has some sort of string like this, usually with a nod to Mozilla. Among layout engines, Gecko ranks third, behind WebKit (used by Safari, Chrome, and various smartphones) and Trident (used by Internet Explorer).

Same machine, with Internet Explorer 8:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)

Why all these versions of Microsoft’s .NET framework feel compelled to mention themselves is beyond me. Then again, I seldom have any reason to mention .NET, and when I do, it’s not favorably.


  1. Mark Alger »

    8 April 2013 · 11:14 pm

    Hey, if they don’t like the hacks, they should stop making them necessary. The are not, despite their unreasoning prejudices on the subject, God’s gift to design.


  2. AMB »

    9 April 2013 · 3:01 pm

    User agents in general are kind of a sad and bizarre necessity, and are getting increasingly arcane with the passage of time. Here’s a good, brief overview of the whole sordid affair:

  3. CGHill »

    9 April 2013 · 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the historical perspective. “Sordid” does seem to be the word.

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