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November 19th, 1999

[5:00 PM] A Conspiracy Of Dunces: MSNBC Blocks Mac Access To Video Files
by Staff seems to not want Mac users to traffic their site. Observer Scott Richardson noticed that MSNBC arbitrarily blocks Mac users from accessing the Windows MediaPlayer video files. According to Scott:

The video on (Windows Media Format only now) is being blocked from Macintosh users. If you look at the javascript on this site, you can see the Macintosh filter and the error message you get if you try to play any of the video.

I got the video to work, but submitting the html link in the javascript that the PC users see, and it worked just fine. I have no idea why they are doing this. Since MSNBC does not use Real Audio or Quicktime, all video on this site is now PC only.

Here is a sample of the javascript from the MSNBC site:

if(sUa.indexOf("mac")==-1) { ... alert("Windows Media Player for Macintosh in not currently available.");

Since there is a Macintosh version of Media Player (I am using 6.3 beta), I don't understand the logic behind this site.

Scott Richardson
Multimedia Developer
Blue Ridge Media
Boone, NC

The mystery here is that Microsoft, the "MS" in MSNBC, does indeed have a Mac version of the MediaPlayer. It is in beta, but it actually seems to be a stable product.

The Mac Observer Spin: Is this subterfuge to make Mac users feel inadequate (Think DR-DOS), an outdated warning, or does simply not care for our traffic? Since Microsoft is the developer of MediaPlayer, there is no reason whatsoever for to disallow us access to the files. A warning that the Mac version is in beta would be sufficient to let us know about the lack of full Mac support. Scott was able to watch the movie on his Mac once he bypassed their warning.

Mind you, there is no reason for MSNBC to offer QuickTime or RealVideo considering they are competing technologies. Mac users don't expect Apple to make Star Wars trailers available in MediaPlayer format for instance.

Still, needs to stop the artificial boundaries to access by Mac users.

What do you think? Talk back in our Forum.


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