Shouldn’t government sites be open to all browsers, including Apple’s Safari?

“In the past, Safari users have run into problems accessing a lot of Web sites that just weren’t built to be compatible with Apple’s browser. That’s frustrating enough when it’s a business site, but when it’s a government site that provides information and services to which the user has a real right of access, it’s downright unfair,” Chris Maxcer reports for MacNewsWorld. “However, with Mac’s growth and Safari’s push to Windows, has the situation improved?”

Maxcer asks, “Shouldn’t government sites be open to all browsers? Aren’t sites supposed to be built on basic Web standards? Hasn’t there been plenty of time to iron out these standards? Sure, Safari usage is only hovering around 4 to 6 percent of all browser use range, but clearly Apple OS X and Safari is a viable Microsoft alternative worthy of support, is it not?”

Maxcer writes, “A private company not making its site available to all users is one thing, but access to government information can be a touchy issue. Back in 2005, the issue of Safari incompatibility erupted. Lots of sites, including banks and online stores, didn’t work with Safari — or didn’t work very well. Mozilla’s Firefox alleviated some of the issues, as did Internet Explorer (IE) for the Mac. However, when Microsoft pulled the plug on IE for the Mac in late December 2005, that option became less and less workable.”

Maxcer writes, “So when government sites seemed to only work well with Windows versions of IE, some users fought back. One of the best examples can be found at MacInTouch Reader Reports on ‘Mac Marginalization’ in the government and education sector. The site covers dozens of examples of .gov-related Web sites that didn’t function well with Safari. A biggie was Hurricane Katrina and usability flaws that shut out Mac and Linux users from filing disaster assistance claims.”

Maxcer writes, “Fast-forward to today. Now that the Mac is gaining in market share and Apple is hoping to make Safari more mainstream by making a version for Windows, has the problem been solved? Are Safari users able to get access to more Web sites now, government and otherwise? Whose responsibility is it, anyway — Apple’s or the developers of these various sites that at one time locked Safari out?”

Full article here.

38 Comments

  1. There are many hidden instances of incompatibility.
    This is not about the US government, but about state-subsidized educational sites (i.e., paid for and maintained with *my* tax money).
    The point I’d like to make here is that many of the incompatible sites remain hidden behind a username/password login dialog, which makes the wrongdoers less visible for public scrutiny.

    E.g. I am taking a 50-50 in-class/internet Spanish course at a Provicial school, with some assignments NOT working on
    – ANY Mac (and I suppose, Linux) browser, because the site is sloppy in the use of capitalization of filenames. Windows browsers/servers, apparantly, act in a case-insensitive way, effectively ignoring bad programming!
    – Safari, INCLUDING, for some assignments Mac FIreFox, for no reason at all, except the platform/browser check they are doing, effectively locking out anything that comes from the Mac. Haven’t tried faking a MS user agent yet, though.

  2. At the company that I work for, the web developers make a concerted effort to make their web site as compatible as ever with the most browsers out there. About 5% of the hits to our site are with Safari users. It used to be that the web site was developed using strictly Microsoft products and now we use Adobe Dreamweaver. This is revolutionary in itself as my company is very Microsoft-centric. Thank God Adobe makes Dreamweaver for Windows, although Dreamweaver doesn’t work very well with Vista (or is it the other way around?). As one of the lucky few at my work that uses a Macintosh, I find that I’m used quite often to test the view-ability of the company web site. I also use iPhoney to test the web site out on the iPhone too. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  3. Yet another example of how Microsoft’s deliberate attempts to frustrate interoperability and foster dependence on only Microsoft software, is still wasting many peoples’ time and energy. Just think how much further ahead we’d all be had Microsoft played nicely with open standards.

    Sure, they may be singing a different tune nowadays when it comes to open standards, but if they really meant a word of it, they’d have some kind of awareness program in place to get owners of websites (particularly government sites like this) to be aware of the importance of cross-browser compatibility.

    Of course they’re not going to do that, because they as many people as possible to be forced to buy a Windows computer or a Windows license. I still don’t believe they have any true interest in open standards – apart from embracing, extending and extinguishing them.

    MW: deal – as in raw deal, thanks to Microsoft and the morons who perpetuate their monopoly by running MS-dependent websites.

  4. Here is a chuckle for you. Homeland Security website for pre-clearing freight movements across the border (ACE program) REQUIRES the use of IE 5 or newer on Windows, in order to access the system and process your shipment details. How is that for security?

  5. It’s not a mystery why government information is made difficult to retrieve by Mac users. Mac users are predominantly liberal, despite a few vocal exceptions who troll this site (and a few notable right-wing wackos in government and radio)

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