Microsoft: if IE9 displays blank pages, it’s your own fault, so format your hard drive

You’ve got to hand it to some folks for discovering words in their “word-a-day” calendars and they feel compelled to use it.
   If you go to Microsoft Answers, there are dozens of people wondering why their Internet Explorer 9s don’t display anything. So, I decided to report the bug I have had since March, and which I have found exists again in Windows 7 on a brand-new machine.
   Here’s the dialogue with Microsoft:

   Injudicious isn’t the right word here. But he gets a real kick out of using it.
   There are some very basic things the chap missed. (1) Before any System Restores were done, the product didn’t work. And they don’t work on two out of two machines here, one of which has never had a Restore. (2) If those security patches were released mid-December and mid-January, they should have been among the updates done the first time, before the System Restore. (3) The essential advice here seems to be: how dare you use a feature that we supplied. You should never use it.
   Once he seized upon that and a rival product, that was it. We here at Microsoft are perfect. You should not use anyone else’s products. Bing is better than Google.
   And there’s the usual power-trip of needing to have the last word even when the customer has said he wishes to end the dialogue. I see he has discovered italics now, too.
   The strategy is to blame the customer, but, if you hunt around the web, this is a major fault with Internet Explorer 9—which explains, as usual, why the other browsers are getting larger and larger shares. Microsoft’s failure to acknowledge it means that folks will simply abandon a browser that, certainly before this latest version, is widely regarded as poor. I haven’t used it regularly since v. 5, when it had a noticeable advantage over Netscape.
   I don’t actually use IE in any case. But McAfee uses it for its HTML-based displays, and one Windows Gadget I use also employs it. The latter always will, but I can’t see the former remaining in this situation if already some people are reporting that they cannot see their McAfee anti-virus program.
   I decided to end the conversation because the issues being raised were irrelevant, he was dodging all the real questions about a faulty product, and there’s no point in telling someone where he messed up if the whole aim is to be unhelpful. Go through the Microsoft forums and there’s not one tech in any position who can go beyond the routine: it’s either deliver the stock answers, or play the blame game.
   Bit like Google, then.
   At the end of the day, it’s not even a product I use. Otherwise, as in the above link, I’d be quite prepared to fight on for half a year.

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12 thoughts on “Microsoft: if IE9 displays blank pages, it’s your own fault, so format your hard drive

  1. Ugh.

    My father recently had some help with malware removal– an HP media prebuilt running XP. I’m not sure if he’s ventured past IE7 (haven’t closely checked), but I think it’s very telling that the Indian tech insisted on using Google Chrome for diagnostics and troubleshooting.

    I know that IE is tightly integrated to the Windows operating system (this has been repeated in the tech news world numerous times, of course), and so his claim that “if IE (any version) isn’t working properly, Windows isn’t either” might well be true. However, if one can’t roll back to a previous version, well, they’re doing something wrong in the OS design. Oh, and yes, such a blatant lack of professionalism, above all else, even for someone in the I.T. world. I’ll be very surprised if management doesn’t give “PA Bear” a dressing down.

    Then again, I remember talking to my sister (who is a MBA student) how so many tech companies are relying on customer service that is stuck on scripts and “stock answers”– something about how that is all that is needed for the majority of customers, and that therefore justifies such decisions. But you weren’t working with a minimally-trained wage slave… or were you?

  2. Mr Bear could have done it without the snarkiness. And actually presume that the person on the other end of the line has a brain—and can see through the BS. I rolled back to IE8, just that he doesn’t seem to approve of the method. But, as I told him, a normal rollback is fine when it’s the one program involved. When it begins taking out others, it’s not injudicious. In fact, I made a judgement call to use System Restore which, interestingly, has never messed up any XP system of mine in the past.
       But maybe this sort of behaviour is tolerated. I know it is at Google.
       Given the way he covered his rear end I would say he was not on minimum wage, and he is rather active at Answers. Maybe just someone who has dealt with imbeciles once too often, with the consequence being that one is grouped with them.

  3. this is a much discussed problem which Microsoft appears to be ignoring. why are we wasting our time talking about something that MS should be analyzing?

    we switched to Google and Firefox and no longer have those problems. good bye ie8 and ie9.

  4. Microsoft MVPs are not Microsoft employees.

    There’s no excuse for a bad attitude from anyone, especially someone that wears that MVP badge of honor. But you also need to point your anger in the right direction before pulling the trigger.

    From other resources the issue with blank pages seems to be from one of two areas:

    1) The DTD used on web pages: Many sites use an abbreviated form and IE is now much more pedantic about it. In short MS is following the W3C spec and web developers (including Google) who have not been following the spec for years are now complaining that IE actually cares.

    2) Hardware acceleration (GPU rendering) – this is on by default in IE. Disable through Tools>Internet Options>Advanced and restart.

    I’m not a MS fan or proxy. I just like solid technical answers to technical problems, and finger pointing from either side doesn’t help anyone.

  5. It doesn’t matter if they are employed by Microsoft or not: they represent the company, or are seen to be. It’s what we regular Joes experience that matters, and how audiences see the brand—and, frankly, Microsoft’s is being dragged through the mud by people like the MVP mentioned.
       I’m curious, however, to know why you thought I was angry when I was anything but.
       None of my post was incorrect finger-pointing at all. The problem has not been acknowledged by Microsoft. I had employed all the standard remedies the company gave before pushing the panic button. I suspect people who helm these forums do not realize that (and I suspect you did not, either): most of us who voice our concerns know how to use search engines (on the basis that if we can write fluently, we must have literacy and a reasonable level of intelligence), and long exhausted the usual avenues.
       Your first suggestion has merit, but, remember, I could not access Microsoft’s own pages. Or any, for that matter. That would rule out DTD, unless Microsoft is also lax about HTML coding and made pages incompatible with its own browser. (Mind you, I could believe this.)
       Your second one is the standard one that is on most web pages—and it was the first thing I tried back in January. It didn’t work.
       The Microsoft gentleman was proven wrong on his suggestion when I happened across the fix (which is ridiculously simple), and proven wrong again when I discovered I had no missing updates.
       I like solid technical answers to technical problems, too, and I stand by every word I wrote back in January when the “expert” failed dismally in providing any. Suggesting a reformat was the equivalent of nuking a country over the expulsion of diplomats.

  6. Hi Jack, thanks for your considered response. I do agree with you that the MVP’s response was incorrect and a little off-tone. Hey, as experts we all sometimes get the answer completely wrong – but doing it with an attitude puts a different spin on it. BTW, I’ve seen his comments in other forums – I didn’t know who the guy was until I saw your blog, remembered the name, then recognized it elsewhere. It looks to me like he’s usually congenial, and technically accurate most of the time. The MVP badge is not rewarded to those who are typically arrogant or incompetent. Maybe his game was off that day.

    Going back and looking at the entire forum exchange, he was parenthetically saying a restore was simply the wrong answer for the particular problem. Further, he apparently didn’t really understand the full issue on your specific system. Having read all of that again, yeah the presentation was a little off but I think he provided a reasonable response in a community forum given the information available.

    I still disagree with the perceived linkage to Microsoft. He is not a “Microsoft gentleman”. That link should be corrected wherever it’s asserted. I am also an expert with various technologies but my personal demeanor should not reflect on the company providing software with which I’m proficient. I’m not daft to the connection that people often make there, just saying it’s inaccurate. Microsoft takes enough heat, justified and not, for what comes from Redmond. Let’s not make them responsible for people who use and/or advocate their products as well.

    My word “anger” was perhaps too strong and I, like you, just like to get facts straight with no implication of sentiment involved. I just meant that you were “focused” on the MVP as a representative of Microsoft, and I was suggesting that such focus IMO was, again, somewhat inaccurate, though your other perceptions were not.

    As to the solution to the specific problem, I came to your blog while searching for a remedy to the same problem – in this case, Google pages returned empty pages (though it you look at the source the full pages were there). After I provided a couple colleagues with possible solutions (a little more extensive than what I wrote here) it turns out they both said the problem had mysteriously fixed itself. In a Google forum one of the senior contributors (MVP of sorts) said he had reported the IE/Google issue to Google Support but there was no mention of acknowledgement or confirmation. It’s possible that this was a Google coding issue that has now been resolved.

    Anyway, that’s much more than I wanted to get into with a blog post. Been fun, thanks.

  7. Well at least you have a MS MVP openly admitting that system restore leaves the system in a torn state. Sounds to me like MS needs to fix system restore. :-)

  8. You cannot just ignore this problem even if you do not prefer IE9. The fact that there are web developers out there… there are always a bunch of people who are still using IE, and we need to make our website compatible with IE’s freaking display.

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