I Guess Microsoft Doesn’t Want My Money

Yesterday, Steve Ballmer announced the official launch of Microsoft adCenter, their contextual ad word product, aimed at rivalling the monster that is Google AdWords:

Advertisers will also be able to see their advertisements appearing across a number of MSN & Microsoft properties in the future, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Safety Center, Windows Live for Mobile, Office Live and Office Online, and the Xbox® Web site Xbox.com. This definitely ends much speculation about how many of these new free Live branded products would be monetized to make them worthwhile. And it gives adCenter a platform to test contextual targeting prior to launching a product for publishers.

We run Google AdWords campaigns for a few of our clients. Seeing an opportunity to get a jump on some of the competition, I figured I’d sign up to adCenter and check things out. Unfortunately, when I tried to sign up, I encountered the following message (here’s a screenshot:

Microsoft adCenter does not currently support the web browser you are using. Please sign in using Internet Explorer 6+. More about system requirements

Ironically, the ‘more about system requirements’ link is currently broken.

This is old-school but not surprising behaviour from Microsoft. Normally, it would be a minor frustration. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer recently stopped working on my machine. I spent a couple of hours trying various troubleshooting strategies, but none of them have worked (Windows Media Player also broke). Because I rarely use IE, I’ve been unable to identify when it broke. So, it’s proved difficult to diagnose. I decided I could just live without it, and am planning on getting a new desktop in the next month or two anyway.

I only hold Microsoft partially responsible for IE and Windows Media Player being b0rked. I’m not a typical user, and I install a ton of crap on my machine. Still, it’s be nice if I could recover that functionality.

Of course, I also have an Apple laptop. Oops. No joy there, either. It’s worth pointing out that plenty of marketers and ad agencies–prime buyers for adCenter products–use Apple products

In the meantime, I can’t help my clients. Thus, no scratch for MSN. I’ll just stick with Google, whose web app runs in the browsers I choose to use.


  1. When was the last time you used IE? Mine was broken over a week ago, along with my microsoft office. The culprit was a new security patch from microsoft(April 11) which can interact badly with other software on your computer some of which was “share to web” from HP that involved digital cameras, scanners etc… on April 25, they issued a new version which repaired the wonky security patch (by using a list of exceptions), and also acted as a proper security patch for those who didn’t have it already. (check windows update to see if you need it, of course 🙂 )

    I’m happy to say, that the new patch worked so my IE now works as well as microsoft office….although as luck would have it my CD burner died…I have a love/hate relationship with my computer!

  2. “the ‘more about system requirements’ link is currently broken.”

    Well, if you’d have just used IE 6 in the first place, then this wouldn’t have happened, would it?

    Seriously though, you should be able to install a firefox extension that will allow for Browser ID masquerading… Perhaps all they’re protecting you from is a little bit of poor layout?

  3. I actually had a problem and I was using internet explorer. I tried with my boss at work and then I tried again at home and had the same error. I took some screenshots of it here:


    Microsoft will have to do a lot to compete with AdWords and how easy it is to manage campaigns. I’m curious to check it out once I can finally get in!

  4. There is a Firefox extension called IE tab that will use the IE renderer. That of course is assuming IE works at a basic level and remains installed on the system. I agree with Patty that MS06-015 from patch Tuesday messed up a lot of things. It’s good to see Robert Scoble not be too happy about the exclusion of Firefox.

  5. Looks like you’ve got sympathy from no less than Robert Scoble.

    Windows Live Mail is the same – Firefox users get “classic” Hotmail instead. Glad I forsook HM for Gmail a while back.

    (And to the comment above, this blog is formatted funny everywhere.)

  6. Re. the rendering problem: yeah, I’m aware of it, though obviously I can’t replicate it. I’m in the midst of switching to WordPress, so I’ll debug then. I’m hoping to switch over next week.

    Re. the Firefox extension: thanks, but I doubt it’ll work. Something’s deeply wrong with my Windows install, as it won’t even render pages in the help system.

  7. I’ve been getting that message in a lot of sites, including a couple of Microsoft pages…

    Funny thing is…I’m using IE. It’s IE7 Beta.


  8. Michael: Windows Live Mail will support Firefox soon. In fact, most teams say they will support Firefox before they come out of beta. I just think they should support Firefox at the same time as IE.

    Carol: yeah, IE 7 will break some sites, particularly those that used ActiveX Controls and/or did things to work around bugs in IE 6.

    Funny thing is that our engineers are learning where the bugs are in all browsers. There’s some nasty ones in Safari, for instance, that’s keeping our standards-based code from working properly.

  9. Darren,
    I am sorry to say this but you are a minority in terms of type of browser used. As a non-geek end user I prefer IE7 Beta over Firefox (I used Firefox for over 1 year). If I were Microsoft why would I support a competing product called Firefox. For your information, Firefox is being used mostly by GEEKS and numbers of non-geeks in the world far exceeds geeks.

    FYI, I was a fan of Firefox till I found IE7 Beta.

  10. kp: Microsoft is under no obligation to support a competing browser. As I’ve indicated, I’m happy to spend my clients’ contextual advertising budgets elsewhere.

    Geeks do use Firefox. Geeks, you can be sure, are also buying a healthy portion of contextual advertising. If Microsoft doesn’t want their money, that’s cool too.

    Given that plenty of ad buyers use Apple products, they won’t be spending their money with Microsoft (at least right now) either.

    From a marketing perspective, however, it’s a bad idea. As Robert states, “a high percentage of influentials are Firefox users.” Plenty o’ marketing folks (myself included) agree that word of mouth marketing is pretty important these days. Microsoft isn’t going to get much buzz if the early adopters aren’t trying their products and services.

  11. If your instance of IE is broken on your physical machine, then just run IE from a virtual machine. In fact, knowing the vulnerabilities of IE, that would be just the safest way to surf the web with it.

  12. If there’s any group called “Miffed with MS’ reluctance to support Firefox” then count me in ,as a n00bie member tho! I tried the website in Q with opera and Lo! it worked. Also, i could see the signup page, though all jumbled-up and randomly strewn, on Firefox :0
    You may wanna see the Screenshots
    Hmm..whatz the secret, then?

  13. kp: IE7 Beta???

    Are you friggin serious or you an MS employee? Because IE7 Beta B-LOWS! It has got to be the slowest, buggiest browser build since IE2. Its tabs browsing ‘?functionality? isn’t even in the same league as Firefox.

    No, you have ever used Firefox if you think IE7 Beta is even comparable. Its not…And I am a housewife, Not a geek.

  14. “Microsoft is under no obligation to support a competing browser.”
    Actually I think Microsoft could be under an oblication to support competing browsers in their non browser related areas of business. I pay for my hotmail subscription but now find I can not use it to it’s full potential because Microsoft have chosen to tie it to another of their products which I dont want to use due to security concerns.

  15. MS *might*, in fact, be under an obligation to support a competing browser. They are a monopoly and the rules are different when you are deemed to be in a monopolistic position. IANAL, though, so taking this comment as legal advice could be injurious to your financial well-being.

  16. “Ironically, the ‘more about system requirements’ link is currently broken.”

    I did a view source and this link is not broken. It was never meant to work. Here’s the code for the “link”.

    More about system requirements

    Basically its just plain text made to look like a link and nothing else. It does not link to anything. It just goes to show MS is again making fools of people, again. Its taking small but frequent pot-shots at other browsers which I feel would just serve to erode confidence in these browsers in the minds of your Joe Sixpack user.

  17. Sorry, I think ur browser picked up the code as HTML. Here it is again.

    [a id=”RedirectLink”>More about system requirementsSorry, I think ur browser picked up the code as HTML. Here it is again.

    [a id=”RedirectLink”>More about system requirements

  18. Microsoft needs to wake up to the reality that if they want to evolve from software company into a media company, they will need to embrace competing software. The problem for Microsoft is that the people currently using alternate browsers, like Firefox, tend to be very vocal early technology adopters and technology influencers. By shunning this crowd, Microsoft is asking for failure.

    People should not have the impression that no one at Microsoft gets it. Robert Scoble, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, understands that support of Firefox is a necessity for Microsoft. Scoble says the idea that people at Microsoft should only care about Microsoft products “must be washed from our corporate culture. … if you want the most passionate people in society to use your stuff, you must support Firefox.”

  19. FireFox is old technology so whoever is attempting to associate ‘adopting new technology early’ with FireFox is doing a disservice. Secondly, fact of the matter is that over 90% of browser users are utilizing IE. If you’re developing sites using FireFox you’re doing your customers a disservice. Third, this blogs main menu (left-side of site) is not formatted to scale properly in my IE6. It’s smashed down toward the bottom of the site. Therefore, only 10% of visitors to this blog just took you seriously…

  20. Let us not forgrt th fox of most fireness. M$oft need to accept that total market domination is not their thing any more

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