back to article Das ist empörend: Microsoft slams umlaut for email depth charge

A bug in Outlook 2016 is making it harder for German users to get their email. If users include the two-dot umlaut in their email password, the system won't authenticate them and their IMAP account will refuse access. Microsoft has warned that the issue could result if any Unicode character is used, but it cites three …

  1. Vince

    I see articles like this now and just sigh.

    Microsoft do not seem to test anything anymore, or think of anything outside a little Redmond bubble. I mean sure they've always had moments, like most software vendors, but it has become relentless.

    Bug after bug, issue after issue.

    Things that did work being removed for no good reason (looking at you Outlook 2016 half-removal of functionality for Exchange 2007 systems). Not really removed initially as it worked, but then broken completely intentionally a bit later.

    Undercutting partners with inferior services (I'm looking at your Office 350), then trying to force partners to sell the solution customers actively want out of.

    Nightmare.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      "I see articles like this now and just sigh."

      I've been sighing continuously since MS-DOS came out.

      1. storner

        Totally agree. Codepage 865 (the danish one, in case you didn't recognize it) had some of the special danish letters mixed up with the symbols for cent and Yen. I still see the occasional bill printed by an cash register running some ancient software with the company name printed as "s<yen>n" instead of "søn".

        It was "fixed" by switching to codepage 850, meaning lots of fun when trying to figure out why pc's set for one codepage would print *almost* correctly on printers set for the other ....

      2. Lotaresco Silver badge
        Windows

        Back in the 80s

        In 1982 an ACT Sirius arrived on my desk, after a lot of lobbying from me. It came with a choice of operating systems, CP/M 86 and MSDOS 1.2. I tried both and thought "Who would use MSDOS? It's awful." Later I was forced to use an IBM PC XT. I cursed the evil lump of nastiness, it was hopeless especially in a side-by-side comparison with the Sirius.

        So yup, 34 years (and counting) of sighing at the mess that MS makes. Sadly the sheeple like Microsoft because it saves all that inconvenient thinking.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is the end result of decades of outsourcing.

      And I'm not talking about outsourcing to overseas entities, Microsoft hires mostly contractors even within the United States.

      Imagine if Linus Torvalds only was allowed to work on the Linux kernel for 18 months at a time, then was forced to take 6 months off. After the 6 month hiatus, he comes back to find that someone else has taken over as head of the Linux kernel in his absence, and poor Linus is forced to make landing pages for new distros instead. While working on the landing pages, he gets pinged daily by the new Linux head asking for advice on how to manage the commits, on top of his new responsibilities. Linus now works two jobs for the price of one, and as a contractor he has to leave again in another 18 months.

      In this hypothetical situation, you can easily see how Windows development becomes very fragmented and unstable over time. There's no accountability for the problems because there's a good chance that the responsible parties have either left the company or been moved to another department, and the massive training gaps leave a lot of unskilled workers in charge of mission critical projects.

      Do not continue to give money to Microsoft. It's like giving implicit approval to their ridiculous business practices, and they will keep running head first into a wall if you assure them that they'll get paid regardless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is the end result of decades of outsourcing.

        This is the end result of decades of outsourcing.

        And I'm not talking about outsourcing to overseas entities, Microsoft hires mostly contractors even within the United States.

        Ah, but herein lies a degree of irony. If they had offshored it, a degree of recognition may have appeared that there are other languages than American (to distinguish from the Queen's English).

        It's shocking that in this day and age they are STILL not able to recognise the fact that other nations, languages and thus character sets exist - they may pay some lip service to internationalisation, but their heads are clearly still stuck in ASCII. At best they have at least moved on from 7 bit..

        Pathetic, truly pathetic.

        1. bob, mon!

          Re: This is the end result of decades of outsourcing.

          > they have at least moved on from 7 bit

          This isn't really an improvement - 7-bit ASCII, stored in an 8-bit byte, is compatible with UTF-8. The various 8-bit codepages aren't.

      2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Contracting at Microsoft

        I was a contractor for Microsoft some years ago (local employer, figured it'd be good for my resume). Local law [1] requires a 100-day break after each 1-year long stint [2] so as to avoid having to give employees the same benefits as a full-time employee.

        What has resulted is that contractors will work for 1 year at one local company, then 1-year at another company, then back to the first company the following year, ad nauseum. This has lead to issues where contractors stagnating because they end up under the same manager they had a year ago and their re-hiring process is just a formality. It gets to the point where there are no new ideas coming in, just the same bland one getting spread between two companies. This process has spread from Microsoft and is now affecting Amazon, Boeing, Expedia, F5 Networks, Nintendo of America, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Valve, and Zulilly. Every once in a while you get something like AWS, but then they contractors working on it go over to Microsoft and you end up with Azure where they will start to homogenize and become indistinguishable (AWS sinking and Azure slightly improving until they meet in a mediocre middle).

        This isn't just a localized problem, its become deeply embedded into the Silicon Valley region, and its taking a stronger hold as there are a lot more companies to cross-pollinate between and many people in niches where they can only get hired at a single company and its competitor.

        [1] Not so much a law as a legal precedent set by a lawsuit that the local companies are trying to avoid falling afoul of

        [2] There are specific types of contracts that can get around that, but that's a discussion for another day

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's just part of its Unix strategy...

      ... everything must become case sensitive and ASCII7. Collation tables are evil because they take too much space in the 8k memory of 1970s computers.

      Oh, and get rid of spaces whenever possible, scripts don't like them too much especially since too many forget how to deal with them.

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @ Vince - The real stupidity is every European language has a different alphabet even if they use a Latin derived alphabet. I would expect a password entry to accept any valid unicode character not just what is on the standard US keyboard. This sounds like it was not tested until the German alpha testers (the users) started to use it.

    5. Chris 155

      If you actually believe anyone else has better unicode support you're high. This kind of stuff exists all over the place and is missed by testing all the time. It's just that we only hear about it when someone like Microsoft does it because they're big and they're bad and they're easy to blame.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you actually believe anyone else has better unicode support you're high.

        .. or using Linux. Or OSX even, just to disprove that fact that "Americans" can't get it right.

        This, like security, is yet another problem fairly specific to Microsoft. In this case, that legacy is doing a fair bit of own petard hoisting...

        1. RW

          It occurs to me after reading AC's remark "that legacy is doing a fair bit of own petard hoisting...", that one of these days M$ will hit an unexpected brick wall when something goes wrong with Windows and they can't fix it! because Windows is so burdened down with code to support legacy soft- and hardware. Where did I read that the source code for Windows is in excess of one billion lines now?

    6. oldcoder

      Microsoft laid off the QC employees... and closed the QC departments.

      Not that they ever did all that much in the first place.

    7. Nak

      Microsoft do not seem to test anything anymore

      You make it sound like this is a problem only with Microsoft, when all you have to do is look at a lot of current generation AAA game releases.

      Arkham Knight, while okay on consoles was so massively flawed on PC that they actively stopped people buying it and started refunding players until it was fixed. No Man's Sky has similar flaws that reek of being released too soon with too little testing.

      I'll admit in this case though it's not that it's *just* Microsoft doing it that's the problem, it's that you expect something better from such a large and "experienced" company.

  2. ratfox Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Please!

    It's "Küss meinen Arsch", not "Küss meinen arsch".

    1. malle-herbert
      Joke

      Re: Please!

      More like "fick dich"...

      1. onemark

        Re: Please!

        @ malle-herbert (12 days ago):

        Now you're talking!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Please!

      A bug in Outlook 2016

      Microsoft is a bug factory. That's all we need to know about Redmond. Everything they chuck out is riddled with bugs that are left to us poor (well, we are coughing up their license fees aren't we???) users to discover.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        @Steve Davies 3 - Re: Please!

        Microsoft is a bug factory

        To be fair to Microsoft, all software has bugs. The real question is: Does their software have more bugs than other software vendors? Or is it that they *appear* to have more bugs because their software is used by more people than other vendors?

        Statistics: A slippery phenomenon indeed.

        1. getHandle

          Re: @Steve Davies 3 - Please!

          Microsoft didn't test German-language options properly? A company the size of Microsoft? Complete fail, nothing to do with statistics.

          1. RW

            Re: @Steve Davies 3 - Please!

            I wonder how (and if) this bug manifests itself when a script other than the Roman alphabet is being used.

            I.e. ႠႡႢႣႤႥႦႧႨႩႪႫႬႭႮ

          2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: @Steve Davies 3 - Please!

            "Microsoft didn't test German-language options properly?"

            Remember this is the company where the OS (win7 is latest I have used) would allow you to change the language of the keyboard. Per application.

            FFS! Who in their right mind thought "you know what, when someone using a German PC plugs in a UK keyboard and sets the keyboard mapping to match, lets make them do it for every fsking program they try to use, mkay?"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Steve Davies 3 - Please!

              > German PC plugs in a UK keyboard and sets the keyboard mapping to match, lets make them do it for every fsking program they try to use

              Paul, I do not use Windows, never had, but are you sure there isn't an option to tell it whether you want the keyboard layout switch to happen globally, per application, or some other combination?

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                Re: @AC

                Maybe there is - maybe it works correctly if you somehow set they keyboard at log-in, but in the cases I have had to do it, I could not find any (obvious) way to do so. A couple of the German engineers said the same.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Steve Davies 3 - Please!

          The real question is: Does their software have more bugs than other software vendors? Or is it that they *appear* to have more bugs because their software is used by more people than other vendors?

          Nope. We're talking percentages here - the number of people using it is irrelevant. What IS relevant is # of bugs over time, and that is the one thing that Microsoft can indeed legitimately claim a first place in without any need to rig the numbers - heck, even WITH rigging the numbers it remains firmly in the no. 1 position there.

          So, in summary, yes, their software simply has more bugs. Those are simple, rad facts, not massaged statistics. There are simply no excuses, what they release as production others would not even consider beta quality. It's cr*p. Sure, it comes in a shiny box with a lot of advertising, but that doesn't change the factual content.

      2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Please!

        "Microsoft is a bug factory."

        No, Windows is a bad popcorn popper - the kernel keeps getting stuck in the machine.

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Please!

      Alzo beta, ze Djermans prefer to zite Goethe:

      Du kannst mich mal an Arsch lecken!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Please!

        Nobody noticed the typo ? it should be "am Arsch lecken" or "an dem Arsch lecken" not "an Arsch lecken" ...

    4. arthoss

      Re: Please!

      Or "leck mich"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please!

      > It's "Küss meinen Arsch", not "Küss meinen arsch".

      Well, you won't be using either as your Outlook password anytime soon. :-)

    6. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Bitte!

      "Leck mich am Arsch".

      Which has the advantage of not using anything but ASCII7, so should be accepted by any version of Outlook.

    7. MSLiermann

      Re: Please!

      "Leck mich am Arsch" would be more correct - "Küss meinen Arsch" is a literal translation, but it's not something a German would say.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Please!

        > ... it's not something a German would say.

        Depends on the, erm, situation.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please!

      <sigh>

      "Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber"

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        Re: Please!

        But Mozart was Austrian.

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

    10. onemark

      Re: Please!

      @ ratfox (12 days ago)

      (Pedantry on):

      Well, actually, no. Here in Germany people say "Leck mich am Arsch!"

      (Pedantry off.)

  3. Fortycoats

    What about Turkish?

    Don't they have lots of "ü"s as well?

    1. Zakhar

      Re: What about Turkish?

      Yes, and many other languages, even in French: Emmaüs (a community that help poor people), Volapük,... But these are in fact all foreign words.

      The "spelling reform" also proposed to change some anomalies like: aiguë, ciguë to aigüe, cigüe,... (which would make more sense indeed)

      But the article says the 3 letters quoted are examples, and they could be more. And sure a lot of languages have letters like: é è ù à, which are all natural at any place including passwords.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: What about Turkish?

      Even in French? Don't be so naïve

  4. Herby

    English is wonderful

    Simply because all our characters fit nicely into 7 bit ASCII (or 8 bit EBDCIC if you prefer). We don't need silly umlauts or accent marks to express ourselves, we just change pronunciation as we need to (see the word 'lead') and go from there.

    Sure it may be confusing, but if you look at it, translations of phrases used in dialog boxen take more characters (for the most part) in the non-english forms.

    What a country that uses these things! Even when we take words from others (Uber comes to mind), we knock off the silly umlauts and call it our own!

    Then there are political people who want to change all of this. (*SIGH*).

    Of course none of this addresses the stupidity of Microsoft and their breaking of something that was working for a long time. That goes into the category of "We're Microsoft, we don't care", but I digress.....

    1. Zakhar
      Trollface

      Re: English is wonderful

      Didn't you forget the troll face?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: English is wonderful

      Isn't the Windows Kernel all Unicode compliant?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: English is wonderful

        Isn't the Windows Kernel all Unicode compliant?

        Might be - just the rest of the code hasn't kept up. By the look of it it's some 2 decades behind..

      2. Uberseehandel

        Re: English is wonderful

        I think NT was supposed to be Unicode compliant and then there was some strange OS/2 smoke and mirrors....and.....and.......

        At this point I switched to Unix servers, which were great.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: English is wonderful

      By that argument Hebrew would have been even better, it would fit quite nicely into 6 bit, numbers punctuation and all, and we could have stopped at the PDP-8. Of course on-screen rendering with vowels would have been a bit more difficult in the early days, but I once had a DOS program that managed it OK.

      ...Redmond hasn't even the excuse that, being on the West Coast, it doesn't encounter languages other than English very much. There's rather a lot of complex symbol systems in the Pacific Rim countries.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: English is wonderful

        There are rather a lot of people on the US West coast of Japanese or Chinese ancestry or origin, and not a few of them likely enough are employed by Microsoft.

        Somehow, it does not seem this should have happened.

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: English is wonderful

      English characters. must have been invented in England then, and copied all over the place. Shame on Gutenberg too, one has to assume.

      "Johannes Gutenberg refers to the process as "Das Werk der Bücher": the work of the books. He had invented the printing press and was the first European to print with movable type,[13] but his greatest achievement was arguably demonstrating that the process of printing actually produced books."

      Well there are those who claim 8 bit was better than 16 bit.

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: English is wonderful

      Expose and exposé are two different words in the English language, and you need an accent to differentiate between them.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: English is wonderful

        Expose and exposé are two different words in the English language

        What you mean like lead (for walking dogs) and lead (the metal?

        English orthography is a mess but this is largely down to its age as a written language and the joyful absence of official intervention that tends to fuck things up whenever it tries to make them better.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: English is wonderful

      Unluckily, in German there are words that differ only by an umlaut, and have very different meaning.

      For computers, there is also another problem - a German umlaut can be replaced with an "e" after the other letter, thereby "schön" and "schoen" are equivalent. I wonder how a software should handle it in a password - accept the equivalency or be strict? A user may type the password on a foreign keyboard and may not remember how to enter the required letters.

      I wonder if Outlook doesn't do something silly with this equivalency.

      IMHO, passwords should be handled like binary buffers without trying to interpret their characters. But I'm seen more and more developers who have big troubles to understand binary - they can think only in terms of character strings. Usually with results like this.

      1. Notas Badoff

        Re: English is schön

        Ah yes, the 'automatic' workarounds to compensate for the knowledge-impaired knowledge workers. I automatically replace the umlauts with their by-ASCII-convention equivalents, because of numerous past hassles. 'oe', 'ae', 'ue', usw. Hey, longer passwords are supposed to be better, yes?

        ( Hmm, dictionary.com says 'hassle' has "unknown origin"? Really? Not 'hässlich' ? )

        1. Wensleydale Cheese

          Origin of "hassle"?

          "( Hmm, dictionary.com says 'hassle' has "unknown origin"? Really? Not 'hässlich' ? )"

          According to the OED (the version that comes with OS X):

          late 19th cent. (originally dialect in the sense ‘hack or saw at’): of unknown origin, perhaps a blend of haggle and tussle.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: English is wonderful

        a German umlaut can be replaced with an "e" after the other letter

        This can be quite annoying. If you're searching for, say, hotels in Rösenheim, you also have to check Roesenheim and Rosenheim. If you're searching a sorted list, will it be near the start of "Ro-" or near the end, or wherever "Rö-" collates?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: English is wonderful

          This can be quite annoying. If you're searching for, say, hotels in Rösenheim, you also have to check Roesenheim and Rosenheim

          Any system that knows about languages other than English will do those extra searches by default.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: English is wonderful

      "Simply because all our characters fit nicely into 7 bit ASCII"

      I think you'll find that 7 bit ASCII was fitted around the US character set. US, not English. That little problem with currency symbols other than $.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: English is wonderful

        "...currency symbols other than $..."

        Including the cent symbol, which is used in the U.S. but was left out of ASCII.

        Which by the way is the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. So, yeah, only suitable for use in America, and only marginally at that. You're welcome, rest-of-the-world.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: English is wonderful

        Well, there's a pound sign, isn't there? Avoirdupois not sterling, but if you squint, it's pretty close.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Doctor Syntax - Re: English is wonderful

        As one American symbol once said :

        English? Who needs that? I'm never going to England.

    8. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: English is wonderful

      7 bit ASCII? My friend Chloë thinks you are naïve.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: English is wonderful

        Also my friend Zoë.

    9. Jan 0

      Re: English is wonderful

      > Simply because all our characters fit nicely into 7 bit ASCII (or 8 bit EBDCIC if you prefer).

      Nicely? Errm, only for small values of "English". Where are the diphthongs, superscripts, fractions, etc? Also, haven't you noticed that we use diereses in English? Naïve?

    10. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: English is wonderful

      > Even when we take words from others (Uber comes to mind), we knock off the silly umlauts and call it our own!

      Every time this is done, a cute little kitten is being run over by a lawnmower.

    11. OliverJ

      Re: English is wonderful

      @Herby, be glad that the Allies won the war. Otherwise, there would be no ASCII, the standard would be named DIN-23452-A (Bin.Drstl.v.Zchn.f.d.Vrwn.i.dtnvrb.Systm.) or something similar, all Umlauts would be in it (of course), and strange historical symbols like $ would be accessible via one of the more obscure UNICODE pages (which would not be called UNICODE either). That isn't funny at all.

    12. Hollerithevo

      Re: English is wonderful

      Correct English would see the word we lazily write 'preeminent' as preëminent', to indicate that the second 'e' begins a separate syllable, and to give clarity to the meaning and pronunciation of the word. This is the same for many words now simplified, e.g. cooperative.

  5. Frederic Bloggs

    Is it Outlook or the interaction with a M$ IMAP service?

    Does the same problem occur when talking to something modern and clean such a Dovecot IMAP server? And anyway, surely the password strength police should be applauding the use of any UNICODE characters that increase the overall entropy of the password?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Is it Outlook or the interaction with a M$ IMAP service?

      What's the betting that this just relates to the encoding set for the field storing the password? Spot the flaw in this logic ;-)

      What's the % test coverage of Outlook? From this little faux pas I'd reckon less than 80%

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Microsoft or Americans?

    I'm not going to launch into an all purpose Anti-American attitude.

    But from time to time parts of the USA do tend to forget that there is a world outside the USA.

    Like some years ago when the interwebs were still new and shiny I had a little argument with a largish well known tech company because their well advertised .com address turned out to be a USA relevant only site ( and their other ones hard to find).

    In my message to them I pointed out that .com didn't just mean USA and that it was a generic domain, short for "company".

    Their response was to insist that ".com meant USA. " So Plus ca change as they say in the lands beyond Brexit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft or Americans?

      When Donald "the Rug" Trump gets elected and becomes the 'great dictator', the rest of the world will cease to exist as he builds a containement bubble around the whole USA. Not only to keep us Aliens our but to keep his subjects inside.

      Anything that uses metric will be banned as being a commie plot.

      As for spanish, this will be sanitised to remove all nasty foreign not American (USA No 1, USA No 1) non ASCII-7 bit characters.

      I'll be on moving to Canada by the end of Jan 2017 if he gets elected.

      1. OliverJ

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        @AC - "I'll be on moving to Canada by the end of Jan 2017 if he gets elected."

        Let me correct you little mistake, of course you meant "when", not "if" ....

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Microsoft or Americans?

      Um..

      That *is* what .com means. (Or *did* mean, but anyway, there is no viable pedantically correct alternative)

      As the internet started only in America, there were no top level country codes.

      .com is the USA equivalent of .co.uk

      Of course, policies were relaxed to earn more cash (For example, you had to be a proper ISP to get a .net) and things took on a life of their own.

      Meanwhile, .us was added, basically used by local councils and schools.

      Bottom line, .com is where a US only company *should* reside, but none of this is relevent any more... (but was more relevent when you ssy the internet was new and shiny - I assume you mean 1982 when IP started being used?)

      How many Uk-only companies use .com ?

      Or UK TV stations preporting to be in Tuvalu (.tv)

      The whole domain-name structure is totally abused,so people can make a quick buck. You know that, so I'm really surprised that you thought it wise, or correct, or even productive to call them out.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        Maybe not that new, maybe late 80s or early 90s ( It was a long time ago). By then most big international companies used .com for their international site. Even now I have no problem with USA web sites using .com. But this was a multinational that happened to be based in the USA. The point was that this was their only readily locatable site. The one that everyone would have gone to, but they'd just not remembered that the rest of the world would also go there. So it needed a USA Zip code to ask for information, that sort of thing. (I wish I could remember who they were!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        That *is* what .com means. (Or *did* mean, but anyway, there is no viable pedantically correct alternative)

        As the internet started only in America, there were no top level country codes.

        .com is the USA equivalent of .co.uk

        So what is .us then?

        No, .com means "commercial". Not "United States", not "Compuserve" (as one saleswoman tried to tell us back in the late 90s). The fact that the US didn't bother with using its .us code is irrelevant, there is nothing about .com that is US-centric. It merely got there first.

      3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        "As the internet started only in America, there were no top level country codes"

        arpanet was started in America. There were no domain names in it anyway.

        The World Wide Web (we're talking websites, so this is relevant) definitely didn't start in America. It wasn't even started in Switzerland like many believe, but that's beside the point.

        By the time of the websites discussed, ccTLDs were fully established.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft or Americans?

      "Their response was to insist that ".com meant USA. ""

      I believe they may be factually correct. The last time I looked into this I was told that if you had a .com website, you potentially fell under US jurisdiction for all matters appertaining. Same for .org and so on. It's like postage stamps; the country that invented them doesn't have its name on its stamps.

    4. DonL

      Re: Microsoft or Americans?

      "But from time to time parts of the USA do tend to forget that there is a world outside the USA."

      The Germans forget that even more in my experience. A lot of German software just fails with unhelpfull error messages when the date notation isn't set to using dots as a seperator. Also I see them using umlauts, spaces and +/& characters in all combined in a single filename. It's surprising it works as often as it does.

      And while I read/write/speak 3 languages fluently, my German colleagues only understand German. It's rare to meet a German that also speaks a second language.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        It's rare to meet a German that also speaks a second language.

        Really? I'm not going to argue with you - more, politely disagree - but my own experience has been so different. Just about every German I've ever met spoke better English than many English natives.

        And, contrary to stereotypes, they have a good (i.e, comprehensible to the Brits) sense of humour too.

        As Noël Coward sang, "Don't let's be beastly to the Germans..."

        Beer, because that's one thing we have in common --->

        1. DonL

          Re: Microsoft or Americans?

          "Just about every German I've ever met spoke better English than many English natives."

          You may certainly disagree, but I wonder where you meet them :) Perhaps they share the same occupation or you meet them abroad?

          I speak with German people daily and come in Germany a lot and they just don't speak English. Remember that this is a country that voice-overs their movies in their own language, so how are they going to learn? In places abroad where lot of Germans come, everything is translated in German so that doesn't help either.

          I witnessed people that don't speak German talking English in Germany and they didn't get very far.

          To be clear: I don't mean to be unkind or whatever, it's just what I see. :) And I'd love to be wrong as it meant I would save A LOT of time writing the exact same e-mail in multiple langages. But they personally insist I do it. Either I'm right or they're just messing with me. ;)

          1. frank ly

            @DonL Re: Microsoft or Americans?

            "I speak with German people daily and come in Germany a lot ..."

            The Germans must be very exciting people. I'm guessing you're not a native English speaker. Oh, those euphemisms and prepositions!

          2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft or Americans?

            Having lived and worked in several parts of Germany, the answer is ... it depends where you are if the locals speak English.

            In many of the larger cities it is easy to speak english and be understood. A few times in Bavaria, I was asked to speak English because my Hamburg accent was so bad they couldn't understand it.

            In places where the British Army had bases a lot of the local speak English because they integrated more into the population. Not as much in areas where there were US bases as they mostly remained on base.

            There is no simple solution to the problem.

            As for speaking french in France.... Several of my friends (around Annecy, in Brittany and south of Lyon in the Rhone valley), speak almost perfect English but refuse to use it when Americans are around just because they don't even try to speak French. most Brits at least try these days.

            1. Kobus Botes

              Re: Microsoft or Americans?

              @Steve Davies 3..."speak almost perfect English but refuse to use it when Americans are around"...

              We very quickly learned that on a student tour to Europe in 1980. For some reason Europeans take an Afrikaans accent to be American and then immediately become mono-lingual. The solution was to either chat to each other in Afrikaans (even the native English speakers) and then switch to English when addressing a local, or start off in Afrikaans and then switch to English. It was an eye-opener to how much friendlier people would be if they knew you were not an American (we attributed that attitude to an intense dislike of Americans, probably because of how they treated Europeans in their own countries after the war, or maybe because of their general superior attitude, but we were probably wrong. Generalising, I know, but that is how it is) and even the ones who genuinely could not speak or understand English would make an effort to try and communicate with you. If they took you for an American, that was it - no effort to help or try to understand.

              ..."because they don't even try to speak French". That applies to all cultures, in my experience. I have deliberately learned to greet people in their own language as far as I can (I can at least say "Hallo, how are you?" and "Goodbye" in a number of languages (isiXhosa, isiZulu, French (lots of migrants from French-speaking African countries like Burundi, DRC, Ivory Coast, et cetera), Tswana, Sotho, German, and so on. Not enough, though). Just that tiny show of recognition (as pitiful/inadequate as it is) makes a tremendous difference in how people perceive and treat you, as it shows a basic respect for that person and his/her culture. You have to be sincere, though.

          3. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft or Americans?

            I used to work for a German company & visited Germany often. My German is pretty dismal (OK for day to day "survival" as I can order food in restaurants, give a taxi directions etc.but not good enough for discussing complex concepts that go beyond my "basic" vocabulary).

            The huge majority of Germans I met (not just work, out and about) spoke OK English - they would spot my dismal German accent when I spoke and they switched to English.

            Obviously, this may be down to locations - Frankfurt & Berlin areas (where I was mainly visiting) are more cosmopolitan than a small Bavarian village, and more likely to have multi lingual Germans.

      2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        > It's rare to meet a German that also speaks a second language.

        That may have been (barely) true 40 years ago. Most Germans under, say, 50 years of age do understand English.

        Don't forget we have many people originally from other nations, for those English is (at least!) the third language.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        And while I read/write/speak 3 languages fluently

        ahem

        …dots as a seperator

        Anyway, it sounds like you're moaning about SAP which, let's face it, is just a steaming turd of software. But SAP, like Oracle and MS, know how to sell it and once they've got companies hooked there's way to get off. Ever wondered why there are virtually never anti-trust investigations of SAP?

    5. tom dial Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Microsoft or Americans?

      Many of those in New York City and adjacent parts of Southern New England tend to forget there is a world west of the Adirondacks, or regard such parts as may possibly exist as probably uncivilized.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft or Americans?

        That attitude is so common that even New Yorker Magazine once depicted it on their cover satirically.

  7. Bill Gray

    You think _that's_ bad?

    (Title not meant as a defense of our friends at Microsoft. But...)

    Consider all the sites that object to spaces, or "special" characters such as punctuation, in passwords. Or those which insist on an _upper_ limit for password length... I can't think of a reason for that limitation unless one is storing passwords in the clear (I'd be interested in corrections on this point).

    Seems to me the sensible thing to do is : take user ID and password, as UTF-8 text; concatenate with salt; hash it. It doesn't seem like rocket surgery to me. I'm an astronomer, not a security guy; is there actually a defensible reason for weak password security?

    (Ideally, I'd want this done in the browser where possible, so that the receiving site sees only the salted hashed end product. I realize this doesn't actually adds security, but I can look at the Javascript and confirm that these steps are actually being taken. Otherwise, I only have the word of site X that they store my password securely... come to think of it, were I site X, I might like the idea; it would mean that no matter how stupidly my site might be set up, I couldn't reveal unhashed passwords to the world, because I'd never see them. And were I accused of leaking someone's password, I'd have a good defense.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You think _that's_ bad?

      Or those which insist on an _upper_ limit for password length... I can't think of a reason for that limitation unless one is storing passwords in the clear (I'd be interested in corrections on this point).

      There should be an upper limit, but it should be in the order of 256-bytes or so… (I'm looking at you eBay with your 20-character limit!)

      You don't want someone uploading the entire book of War and Piece as their "passphrase" every time they log in.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: You think _that's_ bad?

        You don't want someone uploading the entire book of War and Piece as their "passphrase" every time they log in.

        Shouldn't that be "Peace"?

        The Readers Digest Condensed Version should fit into that limit.

        Russia had several wars. Some Russians hated other Russians. A short, angry Frenchman came to Russia, got really cold and left with some of the dudes he showed up with.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You think _that's_ bad?

          > Shouldn't that be "Peace"?

          Erm... yes. In my defence, at least I didn't call it War and Piss or some such. Long day, etc. :-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You think _that's_ bad?

          > A short, angry Frenchman

          Technically, he was a Corsican who liked to pass himself off as being French, but close enough for an RD version.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: You think _that's_ bad?

      "Or those which insist on an _upper_ limit for password length" - If they are storing the password in a SQL database, the field will almost certainly have a maximum size.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: You think _that's_ bad?

        The maximum - and minimum - stored password size should be the fixed length output size of whatever cryptographic hash function is used on the salted concatenation of user name and password.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You think _that's_ bad?

        > If they are storing the password

        AAAAAARRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Hashes, man! Fucking hashes!!!

        I'll go cry in a corner or something.

      3. Bill Gray

        Re: You think _that's_ bad?

        @a_yank_lurker - "...If they are storing the [unhashed] password in a SQL database..." If they do that, they're jaw-droppingly incompetent. (Though it obviously does happen, and is why I want the password salted/hashed in the browser: so that the server never sees the original password, and I'll be safe even if the password was used elsewhere.)

        @Stuart Longland : true, and 256-character passwords should be long enough for anyone. Though if the passwords are hashed by the client, then the only downside to a longer password is that it all has to be hashed. The data sent to the server is exactly the same size (that of a hash), no matter what the password length might be.

        @AC - "[hashing in the browser] does add security, actually, as the password never hits the wire and so it can't be leaked, even accidentally." I've seen several comments pointing out that the hash _does_ still hit the wire; somebody who gets access to that hash could then send it to the server. The browser hashing avoids leaking your password, but doesn't free you from using SSL, salt/hashing again on the server, or any other security measures.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You think _that's_ bad?

          @AC - "[hashing in the browser] does add security, actually, as the password never hits the wire and so it can't be leaked, even accidentally." I've seen several comments pointing out that the hash _does_ still hit the wire; somebody who gets access to that hash could then send it to the server.

          True, that's why you use a session based salt. The next session/login, the salt will be different and a hash replay attack will thus fail. There are lots of ways to implement it, but all have to comply with Kerckhoff's principle that knowing the code (which you would with javascript) would still not help breaking it because you can't work backwards from the intercepted salted hash to the password.

          I also agree with @Bill Gray here that the above is but TRANSPORT security - naturally, STORAGE security demands that you salt the hashes you store as well. It takes a bit to get this all right, but it's not impossible.

          1. Vic

            Re: You think _that's_ bad?

            True, that's why you use a session based salt. The next session/login, the salt will be different and a hash replay attack will thus fail

            That can only work if you're storing the password in cleartext on the server; That's a very bad idea.

            Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You think _that's_ bad?

      > I'd want this done in the browser where possible, so that the receiving site sees only the salted hashed end product. I realize this doesn't actually adds security

      It does add security, actually, as the password never hits the wire and so it can't be leaked, even accidentally.

      That's the way all the APIs that I have designed work, ever since making a rookie mistake many years ago, when user passwords accidentally ended up in the database logs.

      1. Vic

        Re: You think _that's_ bad?

        It does add security, actually, as the password never hits the wire and so it can't be leaked, even accidentally.

        I beg to differ; if the salt+hash occurs in the browser, then the salt becomes irrelevant. What is sent back is a simple hash, which is therefore susceptible to collision and rainbow table attack just as any other unsalted hash.

        That's the way all the APIs that I have designed work, ever since making a rookie mistake many years ago, when user passwords accidentally ended up in the database logs.

        Sure, but compromising your wire protocol to avoid schoolboy coding errors on the server is probably a mistake.

        Vic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You think _that's_ bad?

          > I beg to differ; if the salt+hash occurs in the browser, then the salt becomes irrelevant.

          We are starting to mix things up here, but the client-side salting is intended to avoid/minimise replay attacks. The goal here is that the server should not have knowledge of the actual password.

          > Sure, but compromising your wire protocol to avoid schoolboy coding errors on the server is probably a mistake.

          Personally, I use TLS for confidentiality and integrity of the transport layer, I wouldn't dream of knocking up my own tool. I therefore assume that either the transport is secure or the opposition has won that particular battle. This is orthogonal to an attack (including self-inflicted) on the server end.

          Likewise, if the client is breached it's very likely that access will be gained to enough information for authentication to be compromised. Except in cases where you exercise tight control over the clients, I have found it extremely difficult to secure those, so if I can get away with it, I place them outside the boundaries of my system. Then, their security has to be dealt with as a separate problem, and given all the attention it deserves.

          1. Vic

            Re: You think _that's_ bad?

            We are starting to mix things up here, but the client-side salting is intended to avoid/minimise replay attacks. The goal here is that the server should not have knowledge of the actual password.

            I understand what you're trying to do - I'm pointing out that it is ineffective.

            If you apply salt at the client end, all you've done is add a few characters to the password used; the hash is just a hash, and susceptible to rainbow table attack. You also need to get the salt to the browser each time you log in - either by transmission from the server or by storing it locally. This is all a bad idea.

            This is orthogonal to an attack (including self-inflicted) on the server end.

            But the attack on the server is much more likely to succeed by your method; you only need a collision or a rainbow match. By using salting correctly, you would obviate that problem, but with the method you describe, all that is required is for a captured hash to be reproducible. That's a very much simpler problem if you don't salt correctly.

            And - it's just occurred to me - if the client side is doing the hashing, then all the server is doing is a text comparison. So if an attacker has captured the hash - either off the wire or from a server compromise - he doesn't actually need to do any attacks, since that is the set of characters that will get him in. That makes a server-side compromise very dodgy indeed.

            Vic.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *You* think _that's_ bad?

      Pseh, forget about Microsoft's little mishap.

      In a French keyboard, as any computer sold in France is required by law to have, try typing such uncommon expressions such as:

      « Ça va ? » or

      « À plus ! » or

      « Écoute … » etc.

      For those lucky enough not to be familiar with those AZERTY aberrations, it is impossible to type accented capitals, or a capital cedilla, amongst other things, even though those are required by the official orthography (both new and old) and are extremely common in the French language. On the other hand, they do have useful gems like the paragraph sign (§)¹ or the Greek letter mu (µ)², or my favourite, the generic currency sign (¤)³ as first-class keyboard citizens.

      ¹ [Compose] + S + O in Linux

      ² [Compose] + m + u in Linux

      ³ [Compose] + o + x in Linux ☺⁴

      ⁴⁵ [Compose] + : + )

      ⁵ [Compose] + ^ + 4

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: *You* think _that's_ bad?

        "For those lucky enough not to be familiar with those AZERTY aberrations, it is impossible to type accented capitals, or a capital cedilla, amongst other things,

        On OS X with a Swiss keyboard, accented capitals are a pièce de gâteau (Miles Kington fans will see what I've done there :-) )

        The three accented character keys to the right of P and L on the keyboard are ü, ö, ä when the keyboard layout is set to Swiss-German, and è,é, à, when set to Swiss-French. Apply Shift in normal use to get the "other" set of accented characters.

        Add Caps Lock to get the capitals of those: Ü, É, À and È, É, À.

        Ç is alt-4, though on this PC keyboard I'm using at the moment I'm at a loss to find out where a lowercase version of that is.

        OTOH, the programming symbols [, ], {, } |, \, ~ etc are achieved by using Alt, and that soon becomes a real pain in the neck. I've resolved to give in and get a US keyboard for development work.

  8. anothercynic Silver badge

    Sorry El Reg, but...

    ... It's not "Küss meinen Arsch". It's rather "Leck mich am Arsch" or... as someone else pointed out, "Fick dich".

    Pardon the lesson in less-than-erudite German translated terminology, but, given this *is* German, you have to get it right. :-)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arsch?

    I didnt know Sean Connery was German.

  10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Punctuation in passwords

    Argh! to this. A particular laptop encrypting product assumes you have a USA keyboard, so if you blithely put " or # in your Windows password (eg Daughter#2) you have to use different keypresses at the startup logon with nothing to prompt you other than "username or password incorrect".

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Punctuation in passwords

      "A particular laptop encrypting product assumes you have a USA keyboard,"

      Bitlocker does the same on a laptop, desktop, or server

      No prizes for guessing how I know that. :-( :-( :-(

      No prizes for MS either.

  11. Agent Tick

    Many more...

    ... languages ( French, Skandinavian lingos etc) are using diaeresis (two-dot letters) in their alphabet - certainly not just a German problem MS got wrong!?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Many more...

      Yes, and in Swedish ö, ä and å do not have umlauts but are distinct letters on the own, to be found at the end of the dictionary.

      UTF8 all the inputs!

    2. The Travelling Dangleberries
      Facepalm

      Re: Many more...

      @Agent Tick

      " ... languages ( French, Skandinavian lingos etc) are using diaeresis (two-dot letters) in their alphabet"

      One of my colleagues discovered very recently that a O365/Microsoft Account does not accept the three Norwegian accented characters, æ,ø and å as valid letters in a password.

      Sigh.

  12. bryces666

    Reminds me that we should simplify languages, like this piece from a while ago:

    The New European Language!!!

    Writer Unknown

    Read Aloud For Best Effect!!!

    The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

    In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c." Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

    There will be growing publik emthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like fotograf" 20 persent shorter.

    In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

    By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by " v".

    During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

    After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

    Ze drem vil finali kum tru

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      The New European Language!!! Writer Unknown

      The earliest attributation I've found is Mark Twain, but that is generally accepted as apocraphal, and the original source was likely a letter to The Economist in the 1970s.

  13. NogginTheNog
    FAIL

    most software companies having figured out how to deal with non-English characters many years ago

    You'd think wouldn't you??

    My girlfriend's name includes an accented letter (é), but if she ever tried to use it online then it almost always either get rejected as "invalid", or get mangled into odd characters whenever it's displayed. Bit by bit she's being forced to change her name because of ignoramus coders who it seems can't deal with anything more than the basic A-z character set.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    What was Unicode for again?

    I thought Unicode was supposed to simplify reading and writing on computers. Except most countries wanted their own unique country code character table, not to be shared with any other country, regardless of whether the same character encoded more than once. What's that going to for security when Unicode is used for Domain Names.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: What was Unicode for again?

      Unicode is very hard to do correctly, yet many programmer insist on trying.

      There's a library. Just use ICU (or one of the many wrappers) and have done with it FFS.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joy of Lingo

    I worked for a Japanese company at the European headquarters where the official business language was English. Oh what fun remoting into a server where all the responses were in Finnish or kanji or German or Turkish. Google Translate is your friend ... Er... Essential tool.

    There were always language issues, collation on sql servers n databases n tables could be an utter nightmare. You'll love this though, the best ever application server for multiple languages that just feckin worked ... Lotus Notes/Domino.

  16. harmjschoonhoven
    Go

    Latin

    was good enough for the Pope and Desiderius Erasmus: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K (seldom), L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X and (in Greek words only) Y and Z. XXIII letters.

    BTW one of the early proposals for ASCII was to to restrict it to CAPITALS only, like Morse code.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Latin

      Worked for The Martian!

      I'm going out to collect rocks…

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Windows

    Microsoft Outlook Product Manager Winston Churchill explains the feature...

    "The bloody Huns should have thought about this before they invaded Poland! Its time to reap what they sowed, infernal Jerrys!"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luckily, the German's had thought of this already

    I take it Microsoft supports replacement of ü by ue, ö by oe and so on?

  19. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    Don't mention the umlaut

    I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.

  20. Marshalltown
    Pint

    Two dot ...

    umlaut? Is there any other kind?

    1. RW

      Re: Two dot ...

      "Two dot ... umlaut? Is there any other kind?"

      Yes, there is. The Hungarian umlaut, as in

      ű

  21. Bitbeisser
    Devil

    Well, the right answer you tried to give at the end would simply be to quote Götz von Berlichingen...

    (just Google his name and you will find the quote for sure)

  22. raving angry loony

    Long history of incompetence in programming

    Imagine the fucking retard who came up with the "minimum of 3 letters" for a "last name" field. Or a maximum length. Imagine the anger they've generated for people with the surname Ng, or even 'O'. Or the folks with names like "Farquarson-Featherstonehaugh" Yet as recently as last year I STILL found places where surname length limitations are still in place. Hell, it's even still considered normal for surname fields to have a minimum length of "1", and fuck the mononymous folks out there.

    That's the kind of bloody minded incompetence that the computing world has nourished and allowed to remain. That's the kind of complete idiocy that we STILL see in systems today.

    Why would anyone be surprised that Microsoft is still doing stupid things? It's been their way for over 30 years. Sadly, they have lots of company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Long history of incompetence in programming

      Well, in a database field you have to set a max size, LOBs.field have some limitations, and are less friendly for searches and ordering. Of course you need to set a decent limit even if it eats space in some bad implementation often due to the idiots who didn't implemented in C a string type easy to manipulate for strings of arbitrary lengths - making the idea of putting length limits far more appealing to developers. Oh well, they made the language itself case sensitive, they acted like computer slaves forcing themselves to serve the computer needs, instead of vice versa - nobody speaks and think case-sensitively...

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: Long history of incompetence in programming

        Lovely article about names:

        https://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/

        Which is why I'm strongly in favour of any programmer being required to study cultures other than their own, amongst other "non-computing" topics. Too many programmers know too little about the world they are supposed to be programming things to interact with. Too many people making too many false assumptions and screwing everyone else for years on end. Microsoft being one of the biggest perpetrators of the "we know nothing and care less about other cultures", especially in their earlier years.

  23. Mike Banahan

    Tá siad ina amadáin

    Is féidir leo póg mo thóin. (Is that enough unicode?)

  24. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Microsoft = bug factory

    Windows = petri dish for bug multiplication

  25. Ben Liddicott

    Wild guess: Unicode normalisation fail

    Possibly doesn't normalise the password when changing it, meaning that it can't be entered subsequently. Or vice-versa. Since we are talking about IMAP it may just be that certain clients don't normalize passwords on entry.

    They're not just sequences of bytes, you know.

  26. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Website Catch22

    At least with the .com American site I posted about I was able to contact them and explain the problem ( I couldn't get to the product details without an American zip code or a state name from a drop down list or something of that sort). There are still sites that won't let you get the information you need without you entering the information that you need into a compulsory field. There really does need to be a very good, clear and unavoidable reason for compulsory, limited fields - and you do have to be sure there are no plausible alternatives, or else have an open entry. Sometimes that sort of crappy unthinking design can make parts of a site totally unusable. As recently as this week I was prevented from asking a company for help with ordering something on their site, because the ordering form's details had a compulsory dropdown list that didn't have the option that I needed to select and the contact form to ask them about this demanded my order number in another compulsory field. If I'd been able to get as far as acquiring a sodding order number I wouldn't have been contacting them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Website Catch22

      More than one I've reported my state as Quebec, Australia because they don't have an option for Queensland or even 'Outside America/Canada".

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Website Catch22

        It's the combination of ignorance and stupidity that makes me so cross when these things happen.

        The mixture of "You've got this messed up" and "You haven't got any way to let me tell you that it's messed up".

        Some things are just silly rather then a problem. The sites that demand a county name, even after you've put "London" as your city - and in due course you receive a package addressed to you in London, London. ( And yes I could put Greater London, but who does?) Ditto Manchester/Gr Manchester. And in reality all they really need is a postcode and house number.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Website Catch22

          Some countries do not even have the concept of a state/province/county. As for London, New York is the same, people have to put "New York, New York".

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Website Catch22

            And websites that insist "that's not a phone number". Yes it ****y well is!!! I know my own phone number!!!!!

  27. razorfishsl

    Wonder how Asians manage?

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