IE8 64-bit Windows 7 and the Mobile Code Bug

By William Stanek
December 31, 2009 | Comments: 5

William Stanek here, talking about a scripting/programming bug that is driving me absolutely bonkers. The code bug is this:

Often when you visit web sites and are using Internet Explorer 8 on 64-bit Windows 7, you are redirected to a web page optimized for mobile browsers - and mobile browser pages aren't exactly what I call user-friendly. Most mobile browser pages provide only summary information, which is nothing like what you actually are searching for.

Here are examples:

  • Visit www.etrade.com and get redirected to wireless.etrade.com
  • Visit www.intel.com and get redirected to m.intel.com
  • Visit www.sony.com and get redirected to m.sony.com

Good luck finding anything on these mobile sites... except for frustration.

To be clear, the problem isn't with Internet Explorer 8 or Windows 7. The problem is with the programming/scripting code on the many sites having this problem. The JavaScript/Java Server Pages/Whatever code is interpreting the browser information incorrectly and as a result, the user is redirected to a mobile browser page instead of the normal page.

In some cases, there are workarounds for the problem. For example, if you visit us.etrade.com, you don't have this problem.

Webmasters reading this: Check your sites if you are redirecting browsers based on the browser type. The bug may be in the parsing algorithm for the USER_AGENT or elsewhere. The easiest way to test and determine if your sites are affected is to browse your site using IE8 running on 64-bit Windows 7.

For everyone else: Let's hope the code gets fixed soon as I really would like to visit my favorite web sites - and you probably do too.

Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also just released is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.

William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com
http://www.twitter.com/WilliamStanek


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5 Comments

It's not a bug! Web developers intentionally redirect IE8 (64) to mobile device optimized web pages, in other words very very simple web pages. This is because mobile device web browsers in an effort to be small are not compliant to W3C standards and are better suited to minimal web page rendering. Look at the Acid3 Test to verify this.

IE8 while being large is also non-compliant. The Acid 3 score is about 10/100, which is not even as good as any mobile browser I've seen. Web developers do not have time to deal with idiosyncrasies much less full non-compliance, and sometimes it is simply impossible. Enjoy mobile browsing!

IE8 is the version of Internet Explorer that shipped with Windows 7. 32-bit and 64-bit variants of IE8 are available.

Displaying mobile pages on IE8 64-bit Windows 7, which is not a mobile operating system or mobile browser combo was of course a bug. The bug existed and was fixed (mostly) as far as I know.

I've seen this problem on both Windows 7 and Windows XP Pro with IE8 (both 32 and 64-bit versions.)

I was testing this today with the following websites:
http://www.papajohns.com/
http://www.ksl.com/

I tried your examples above as well... all of them took me to the mobile versions but the intel site; that worked.

A friend sitting next to me who has Windows 7 as well, tried the same sites and they worked fine for him.

The only difference we know about so far is that I told mine to use Compatibility View Updates where my friend didn't. I'll try playing around with those settings and see if it makes a difference.

I went into IE's advanced settings and told it to reset them all.

Every site mentioned above works fine now... so we just need to find the culprit setting(s).

Please post them here if you beat me to it!

This has been driving me nuts for the past 2 months as well. Based on the comment by That One Guy, I hit the Reset button is IE's Advanced Settings tab. The sites that had been previously giving me grief all seem to work properly now. Thanks for the suggestion! Agree that it would be nice to know which setting is causing the problem.

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