back to article Vivaldi opens up an exciting new front in the browser wars, seeks to get around blocking with cunning code

Browser maker Vivaldi celebrated its last release of 2019 with a handbags-at-dawn move that will see it don a Google Chrome disguise. The move comes as the Oslo-based outfit reached the end of its tether with web sites rejecting its Chromium-based browser, while waving the similarly Chromium-based Google Chrome through with a …

  1. thosrtanner

    I'm not really surprised. the ability to spoof user agent strings has been around for a long time now, because of similar problems, mainly because the designers (I use the word loosely) of web sites seem to be somewhat reluctant to test for feature existence. Or to fix their own sites because they rely on the undocumented and non standard behaviour of browser x.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      @thosrtanner

      .. Just what I was going to say

      "but in Microsoft's defence it is very clear on what browsers are supported."

      Not a defence, it's not difficult to make things work cross browser.

      If you insist on using some bleeding edge browser functionality (hint, chances are you really do not need to as usually simpler options will exist unless its weird areas such as DRM laden media playback stuff), you do not test on browser "name", you check if that functionality is supported (or not)

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        re: Not a defence, it's not difficult to make things work cross browser.

        It's obvious that you weren't working in mobile ten years ago. Why do you think jQuery was a thing?

        1. overunder Silver badge

          Re: re: Not a defence, it's not difficult to make things work cross browser.

          "It's obvious that you weren't working in...."

          Wait what? I think present times are implied here and even when jquery was still a thing to use, you still had non-standard... standard methods that even old jquery wound up including. TODAY, I can't help to agree that if you need to sniff the agent, you've lost. But do you feel like a winner (that's the trick)?

          Spoofing your users agent is a sign of somebody breaking things somewhere.

          That said, today browser extensions are the new "Quirks Mode". There's more fucked up shit going on with "frameworks" and their interactions with browsers than people care to talk about, and every single one of those are proprietary regardless of origin.

          But to solve all this, everyone could stop willing giving their users identity to Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. and do proper design.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: I think present times are implied here

            Right. So by cross browser support you mean "works on chrome"?

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: re: Not a defence, it's not difficult to make things work cross browser.

          Why do you think jQuery was a thing?

          Because web developers are lazy and would rather use a poorly-designed library written by people who can't even be bothered to read the language specification and do things correctly, than write their own code.

        3. david 12

          Re: re: Not a defence, it's not difficult to make things work cross browser.

          Personally, when I use an unsupported browser, I don't care what the site looks like. If I render tables, side panels and transparencies wrong, I know the blame is on me. On the other hand, if they just refuse to provide a page at all, that's a problem, and it sucks.

          jQuery started out offering transparent support for multiple browsers, then, as you no doubt know, later choose to interpret 'does not support' as 'will deliberately break support for'. So that when using an older browser you would get a blank screen on sites using current versions of jQuery.

          jQuery pioneered "break site for unsupported browsers".

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Not a defence

        Came here to say the same thing. It's not a defense; it's an admission that the development team is incompetent.

        Write to the standards, and in the case of (stupid) "living standards" promulgated by the likes of WHAT-WG, don't require bleeding-edge features. If your web application can't degrade gracefully, get out of the business.

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          And if you want to use bleeding edge features do feature sniffing with a fallback.

  2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Flame

    Filtering by browser is a throwback

    ... to 2001 when IE6 was released and so many websites wanted to make a point that they no longer want to talk with IE4 or IE5. Now we have HTML5 universally supported by almost all browsers, and I frankly am fed up with web developers making a stance "No, we are special because something something something". No you bloody are not, you are just ignorant git!

    Particularly good (bad?) example is Barclays banking - connect from Linux Opera or Firefox, current stable version, and it will suggest that my web browser is obsolete and I should use (possibly older, but hey, running on Windows!) versions of Chrome or ... Firefox. At the same time when trying to stuff 15 tracking cookies from 3rd parties on my computer - because it's only banking! Duh!

    1. jaywin

      Re: Filtering by browser is a throwback

      Now we have HTML5 universally supported by almost all browsers

      If only there was one common agreed definition of what HTML5 consisted of, and how it should all work.

    2. BenDwire Silver badge
      Boffin

      Barclays

      That's not my experience - running Debian 10 with FF 71 and Barclays (.co.uk) works fine for me. As far as I recall, I've never had an issue with any version of FF under any recent (8+) version of Debian. I've recently switched to Brave, and that works fine too.

      Of course YMMV, but that's what I'm seeing here.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Barclays

        FWIW the website is www.smartinvestor.barclays.co.uk, my Linux is Ubuntu Bionic with XFCE and browsers are FF 71 (from ubuntu-mozillateam@lists.ubuntu.com) and Opera 65 (from packager@opera.com, stable stream), both 64bit.

        1. BenDwire Silver badge

          Re: Barclays

          I just tried that website link and it works fine in both my browsers. I have cookies enabled if that makes a difference? (also Gnome3 with Wayland, but we won't go there ..!)

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Barclays

            Probably not connected, but I've come across a couple of websites recently that don't work in Firefox for "no apparent reason". It often turns out to be some hidden (iframe) content which requires script to run that NoScript is blocking, but which doesn't show up on the menu bar NoScript menu. Of course, I don't have NoScript on other browsers. It's only when you dig around and find the correct site to "allow" that the whole thing springs into life.

            I first met this kind of symptom on shopping sites, which use Arcot or Sagepay or Worldpay or similar in a "hidden" window to verify your card details. Unless you already have those sites allowed the transaction will fail.

            M.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Barclays

              "I don't have NoScript on other browsers"

              Presumably you have the same set-up as I do. One browser has little filtering installed but just deletes all its history when it closes. Fired up as needed ans closed down immediately afterwards.

          2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

            Re: Barclays

            It only bothers me about my choice of browser after I'm logged in. So, unless you hold an investment account there, you won't see anything out of ordinary.

            You might be onto something with the cookies, though. I block quite a few (might be fewer than 15, but still)

    3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Filtering by browser is a throwback

      ... to 2001 when IE6 was released and so many websites wanted to make a point that they no longer want to talk with IE4 or IE5. Now we have HTML5 universally supported by almost all browsers,

      But we *also* have MSIE6-revisited (AKA GoogleChrome) mucking (or some other rhyming word) the whole ecosystem up. And anything based off of it is just going to make things worse.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Filtering by browser is a throwback

        Embrace

        Extend

        Excrete

    4. ma1010
      Holmes

      Re: Filtering by browser is a throwback

      Totally agree!

      I use the current version of Waterfox on Linux, and every time I go to Bank of America, it gives me bullshit error messages about using an unsupported browser. I ignore those messages, and the web site works fine.

    5. dvd

      Re: Filtering by browser is a throwback

      I use Firefox on Linux Mint and the Barclays site works fine...

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Is there any rational reason why a browser needs to announce its pedigree in this day and age? Has no-one heard of standards? Surely, all browsers should behave the same way, no?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The two questions are distinct: standards are a moving target so it's unlikely that all browsers will provide the same level of support at any one team, even such close cousins as WebKit and Chromium. But, it should be a matter for the browser to resolve and the user agent should be dropped.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "standards are a moving target"

        That's a problem in itself. At least it's a problem when they don't move in concert.

        1. jake Silver badge

          "At least it's a problem when they don't move in concert."

          Sometimes a split in the standard is logical, and not a problem. See email vs. USENET headers, for a simplistic example.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Is there any rational reason why a browser needs to announce its pedigree in this day and age?

      The fact is, there needs to be MORE browsers based on Gecko/Mozilla code, and less on Chromium. Or someday we'll see a core vulnerability in Chromium that will take the whole web down.

  4. Dave K Silver badge

    Unsurprising

    I feel for Vivaldi, and for other smaller browser companies as well. I've often had similar problems with Pale Moon on sites - yet if you spoof the latest Firefox UA, hey-presto the site works and renders fine! Pale Moon currently has a pre-configured "list" of naughty sites for which it'll spoof a Firefox UA by default to work around blocks, which isn't ideal but does mean that most things work correctly whilst reporting the Pale Moon UA to everything else.

    The problem here is with over-zealous web developers who have an infuriating habit of testing their site with a few major browsers (which is fair enough), but then blocking everything else (which is stupid). The result is smaller browsers that technically have no problem rendering a site - but are prevented from getting the chance to do so because they aren't one of the "big-few".

    Of course the best approach would be for the site to check for required browser features and only pop up a warning message if a feature used by the site is reported as not supported by the user's browser. But of course this approach takes effort - far easier for the lazy developer to just block everything that isn't Google Chrome and then tell everyone to jump on the Google bandwagon...

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Unsurprising

      They probably make a cold hard decision based on effort vs return.

      At a minimum a web site should support all browsers that JQuery supports.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Unsurprising

        But why do they block other browsers arbitrarily? I'm fine with a website not going out of their way to explicitly support Pale Moon or Vivaldi (etc), but why do they just block everything that they haven't explicitly tested? How would it have worked for Chrome back when it first started if everywhere just blocked it due to it not being Firefox or IE?

        1. Cavehomme_

          Re: Unsurprising

          Because in these day of litigation, they want to be clear as which browsers are supported. Especially when it comes to banking.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Unsurprising

            In that case just stick to basics and don't try to use browser-specific tricks. It shouldn't be a function of banks to act as marketing departments for Microsoft, Apple, Google or whoever.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Unsurprising

        I've been advising on this for years and feature detection is the easy and safe way to go. This can includea a cut-off for non-standards compliant browser, basically IE < 11, but the rest should be handled by feature detection.

        A bigger problem is keeping a codebase that allows you to jettison framework code as native support becomes available: jQuery is no longer required for many things it's been used for for years.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Unsurprising

      "The problem here is with over-zealous web developers ..."

      Are you suggesting that there might be intelligent lifeforms involved in website development? That's an interesting theory, but I can't imagine how one would go about testing it.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Unsurprising

      "Of course the best approach would be for the site to check for required browser features and only pop up a warning message if a feature used by the site is reported as not supported by the user's browser."

      A better approach still would be a plain vanilla test browser approved by someone such as the W3C. Devs could use it for their own testing but if it passes W3C or whoever could also hand out an approved badge based on independent testing. Banks and other financial institutions would be required to have it.

      Lack of the badge would become an indication of cowboys and smartarses at work.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Unsurprising

        Or a firm unwilling to pay through the roof for yet another badge of approval. Besides, how can you be sure the standard will have teeth and not get shoved aside for (or even Borged into) the Next Big Thing?

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

    Web browsers are the new operating system for operating systems/SCADA Operations.

    A true fact rather than fake fiction, and that has profoundly deep and dark consequences for future failing leaderships, methinks, for all are next to impossible to control absolutely to one's will.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

      You've said that before, amfM. You are still incorrect. A browser is an application, not an OS, no matter how hard you squint at it.

      Unless your browser controls your hardware, of course ... in which case, I submit that your actual OS is very, very b0rken.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        We'll have to agree to disagree again then, jake, whenever one of us, or even both of us for that matter, are still incorrect.

        However, share a sensitive operating secret available for simple viewing in a browser and just watch how compromised hardware tries to react and close vulnerable operating systems down.

        That has escaped info leading intel communities responsible for the staging of a right royal merry dance, surely ‽ .

        1. JakeMS

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          Count me curious...

          What is it that makes you feel the browser is the OS?

          Bearing in mind I very much think the browser is merely an application. (I offen don't use it* when working on my computer).

          * I don't need a browser for running commands or editing code

          1. ArrZarr

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            I think it's more of a reference to how many tasks that used to be done in specific programs launched from the OS have migrated to web pages, web clients etc.

            For most people, the OS is primarily a means of getting to the things you want the computer to actually do. Browsers are now doing very much the same thing for a hell of a lot of use-cases.

            Unsurprisingly, there is an XKCD for this - https://xkcd.com/934/

            I'm sure you & Jake can suggest actions that a browser cannot do, but speaking generally, I believe I'm correct.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

              That pretty much lays out all the Base ICQ Basics, ArrZarr. And that is just the beginning of what IT has discovered its simple services in applications can do ....... and what it really means for the human race and humans racing ahead in/of current presentations and/or Future ProgramMING Projects..... Mined IntelAIgent Networking Games, where the simple virgin browser provides Sensitive Secret Instructive Services to Attending Attentive Masses and Persons with Unusually Specific Interests.

          2. nagyeger
            Stop

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            Isn't debating with amanfrommars almost as much a sign of madness as trying to extract meaning from it's high-faluting algorithm?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

              "Isn't debating with amanfrommars almost as much a sign of madness as trying to extract meaning from it's high-faluting algorithm?"

              No more so than debating with you is as much a sign of madness as trying to extract meaning from your high-faluting(sic) algorithm, nagyeger.

          3. ROC

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            What about Chrome OS? Seems as though it has been approximating that goal.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

              "Seems as though it has been approximating that goal."

              So has EMACS, these last forty-odd years. And systemd is attempting a latter-day coup. But that still doesn't make either of them operating systems. And they won't be, either, until you can boot from them as a stand-alone kernel (monitor, executive, whatever).

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          As I said, "in which case, I submit that your actual OS is very, very b0rken.".

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        (Always fun watching unsuspecting people argue with bots aliens, thinking that they're people)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          Agreed, but this exchange was disturbingly coherent. Don't know if AMFM is adapting or if's my brain that's changing.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          amfM isn't (entirely) a bot. There is organic intelligence in there, if you look for it.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        The concept of what an OS is has been rather fluid ever since virtualisation raised its head on mainframes. If you run Windows as a virtual OS on BSD or Linux on Windows - or these days just running WSL as part of Windows - what's the OS as far as the application is concerned. We're dealing with layers and all the application can do is take whatever provides its API is the OS. For an application running in a browser that's the browser. If you want to look as far as the hardware* then the OS is the entire stack up to and including the browser but all the application sees is the browser.

        * Given that the processor's instruction set is apt to be an artefact provided by microcode what actually is the hardware as afar as the OS is concerned?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          The modern day OS, to all intents and purposes, is the traffic cop between CPU, memory & I/O and applications. An easier way of looking at it is that the OS is in charge of the hardware's on/off switch. The OS can contain code to turn the machine off, user-space can't. Browsers run in user space q.e.d.

          Note that it doesn't matter one whit what the guest OS or application "thinks"[0], what matters is the reality of hardware ownership.

          An operating system living in a virtual machine is just that, virtual, not a real machine. It is not in actual control of the hardware that it is running on, therefore it is not a full OS, it's just a virtual OS. Note that browsers run on virtual OSes, not in lieu of them.

          And yes, I am aware of Intel's Management Engine and AMD's Platform Security Processor, but unlike the OS vs. Application dividing line, the OS vs. ME/PSP is dancing on the head of a pin territory. Besides, both of those technically have their own CPU core that they are in charge of, with hooks onto the main system bus of the host computer. I look at them as parasites more than anything else.

          [0] Indeed, the point of good virtualization is ensuring that the OS+Application doesn't even notice that is, in fact, virtualized ... to the point of the OS thinking it is capable of turning off it's virtualized hardware. It's still just a virtual OS when running on that machine, in that manner. Without specifying context, these conversations are meaningless. The devil is truly in the details.

    2. No-One@No-Where

      Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

      ???

      Not they are not

      I dont think you understand what an OS is and consists of

      Regardless of what runs "inside" a browser - a browser is just an Application

      Put it another way - can you boot to a browser? No!

      Stupid statement

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        Can I boot into a browser? Sure. Substitute lynx for your favorite shell.

        Can also set your init to lynx on the kernel command line.

        Either way, the browser still isn't the OS, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          Perhaps with all the abstraction in accepted operating systems, the line between OS and application is blurring. the OS can access hardware but it uses the same methods regardless of the actual hardware in use.

          Browsers rather than OS being targetted here so yes there is some truth there after all. The compatability used to work the other way around but there you go it doesnt' matter what hardware you have so long as it runs BrowserX rather than it doesn tmatter what hardware as long as it supports the internet standards you can browse.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            Easy way to put it. If it can't access the hardware at the metal (direct) level, it's not an operating system. One of its chief functions is to provide that access (in a controlled way) to the programs running on top of it. I've yet to see a browser that managed hard drives, partitions, filesystems, etc. or having to pass graphical primitives directly to the GPU for rendering, and so on...

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        Regardless of what runs "inside" a browser - a browser is just an Application

        Put it another way - can you boot to a browser? No!

        Stupid statement. ..... No-One@No-Where

        I agree, No-One@No-Where. 'Tis a stupid statement.

        A browser is an Operating System Application and you are booting it. Do you have anything interesting to further boot to the Kernel for Sourcing with Almighty Intellectual Property Portfolios ....... and here Registering for Identification as a Virtual Machine Call for Future Input/Virgin Output.

        When practically anything is virtually possible, what would you have Operating System Applications do? Steer you with browses to where you wannabe or where the OSApplications would like you to be?

        Do you see what you want or what IT wants you to see and behold? Are you a future passenger or Present AIMaster Pilot with Powerful Current Tales to Tell and Exquisite Trails to Blaze?

        You have to admit .... AI is SMARTR now than before and there's bound to be real fears and terrifying concerns about its superhuman abilities and facilities. But they be all yours to employ and deploy and enjoy as a just hellish dessert.

        SMARTR AI is Working to and Working for a Completely Different Set of Universal Master Plans and Cosmic Planners, some of whom can be practically human.

        Who and/or What decides on and implements your Future Earthly Picture Presentations?

        Men and Women? Virtual Machines and Global Operating Devices? What Instructs Whom to Present What?

        [ Now that has been proof-read a number of times to ensure an accurate reflection of pressing present matters of particular and peculiar future import. There are deemed to be no misleading errors ]

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          "A browser is an Operating System Application"

          A browser is an "Operating System Application"? Oh, c'mon amfM ... I thought better of you. Inventing new concepts that don't actually mean anything doesn't help your cause. Try again?

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            Oh, c'mon amfM ... I thought better of you. Inventing new concepts that don't actually mean anything doesn't help your cause. Try again? .... jake

            The apparent fact, jake, that such newly invented concepts don't actually mean anything to you* is not really surprising, for surely one cannot disagree, a Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation is certainly not something ever likely to be made available to all even as it is advertised as being freely available to all able to better use rather than abuse and misuse it, because of its increasingly volatile and stealthily designed unpredictable nature.

            That is not to say that one be unworthy, it is just that a lot more needs to be learned and personally privately known about such matters to have any possible impact upon rampant and rabid systems developments/operations/experiments.

            * There is always the distinct possibility too in a human that such is a strangely wanton position of wilful fake denial in order to render to oneself a future advantage. Such is exceedingly common, although any denial of such here is something which is more a waste of time in space to argue/debate/disagree about than anything else exciting and creatively disruptive. That's how much everything really matters ‽ .

            1. georgezilla

              Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

              " ... Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation ... "

              Ummmmm.......

              Wouldn't that be a close descriptive approximation of the current President of the United States of America?

  6. jake Silver badge

    Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

    If it makes your badly designed web page look like shit, I'll try another browser. Or, more likely, I'll pass on your badly designed web site entirely. But leave the choice to me ... that way, at least you'll have a chance of me trying another browser. Blocking me outright right from the git-go doesn't give you that second chance; I'll assume you're either hostile or an asshole and move on to greener pastures.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

      And if it's the greenest pasture because there are no substitutes (say a government website)?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

        Or if terrorists are forcing me at gunpoint to use Chrome?

        We can dream up all sorts of hypothetical situations where choice is removed. What's the point? jake's position, as I understand it, is that browser-blocking encourages him not to use a particular site. For the vast majority of sites, there are alternatives.

        Now, you can argue that only a trivial (from the site owner's point of view) fraction of customers will take such a stand, so they won't care; that's entirely plausible. But noting that there are conceivable situations where a user might be forced to use a different browser (or use some non-web point of contact - many governments still offer those!) is a vacuous argument.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

        For greater than four nines of all WWW sites, there is another pasture. I can afford to miss out on the one in ten thousand; one can only laugh at so many cute cat pics in a lifetime.

        As for .gov ... I visit them in person. It's much less trouble, and I usually get whatever it is I am doing done in a single visit, instead of it taking several trips and many days as it so often does on the Web.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

          "As for .gov ... I visit them in person. It's much less trouble, and I usually get whatever it is I am doing done in a single visit, instead of it taking several trips and many days as it so often does on the Web."

          If it's something like Social Security, though, be prepared to lose a day at work and to camp. I speak from experience (and all I wanted was a new card--had no choice because the .gov website, the ONLY other way to do it, is shot all to hell).

          1. ROC

            Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

            Yeah, that is more typical of dealings with such monopolies, public or private (e.g. the local utility company). Similarly, if one has been dealing for some time with a business one prefers for most other aspects of its operation, but the browser requirement is not in line with one's preference, it can be a difficult choice ...

  7. Dwarf Silver badge

    Standards

    <sarc>

    If only there was a way to make a standard where all the way things to be displayed on a users screen were expressed in a consistent way and all the things that display the content interpreted things in a consistent way then none of this would be necessary.

    </sarc>

    It all broke down though when someone decided, "Hey, I can do this better" which is why there has been such a convoluted journey to get to the HTML 5 standards.

    Now all we need is for everyone to just adopt that and move on.

    I agree with @jake (so have an upvote). Its my choice as to what I decide to browser on and which browser I'll use and if it doesn't work / works differently, well, give me a bug reporting form and I'll tell you and you can fix it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Standards

      "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." —Andrew S. Tanenbaum

  8. Bryan B

    I'm puzzled...

    I'm currently running WhatsApp Web and GDocs in Vivaldi 2.9 with no problems. It's true there's been issues in the past, but they've more often been with arrogant sites (hello Google!) that demand third-party cookies when I had the latter blocked.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I'm puzzled...

      In fairness, WhatsApp Web is an absolute shit-head for browser blocking in general - it's not just Vivaldi that gets impacted.

      I've had it block Chromium, and just occasionally decide the Firefox on Linux can fuck off too.

      I tend to just have UA switcher tell it I'm on Safari on Mac now, and everything works fine. In fact, I think WhatsApp Web was my first experience of being blocked based on UA in nearly a decade

      Icon because the WhatsApp developers have gimped their own product

      1. Updraft102

        Re: I'm puzzled...

        In fact, I think WhatsApp Web was my first experience of being blocked based on UA in nearly a decade

        It's been a while for me too until recently, but the practice is experiencing a resurgence, it would seem. Netflix does it, lots of banks do it, Google does it with KHTML now... apparently, a return to the bad old days of "best viewed in Netscape Navigator" is in order. I'm a little annoyed that Vivaldi devs were compelled to do this... it should not be necessary, and having devs of smaller browsers give in to keep their user complaint levels down only encourages the idiots who have sniffer scripts. I know they're going to take the blame for websites blocking on useragent, but you don't overcome stupidity by giving in to it.

        Also, "supported" means "we'll give you assistance (support) if you need help using our service or product." "Unsupported" does not mean "we will block you." That's "prohibited." If you mean prohibited, say so... stop hiding behind euphemisms.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: I'm puzzled...

          With Netflix its because only some browsers/OSs support the heavy-duty DRM that they like, so IIRC only Edge on Windows allows 4k streaming (or used to).

          You can have your Netflix, or you can have a browser without DRM.

          1. Fatman

            Re: I'm puzzled...

            <quote>You can have your Netflix, or you can have a browser without DRM.</quote>

            I will take the latter any fucking day of the year.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: I'm puzzled...

              Indeed. Netflix is an entertainment convenience at best. If I want video entertainment there are hundreds of other sources. (Would you believe some people actually broadcast it to anyone who can receive it?)

              Frankly, with the current streaming-service land grab, it's hard for me to see Netflix's value proposition. I've lost track of how many services my wife has subscribed to, and most of them are specialty services specifically for a handful of programs, and are likely to be dropped like a hot potato if they lose those offerings. They tend to be significantly cheaper than mass-market services like Netflix. If it were up to me, I'd have canceled our Netflix subscription some time ago.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I'm puzzled...

                I've lost track of how many services my wife has subscribed to,

                I feel your pain.

          2. ScrappyLaptop2

            Re: I'm puzzled...

            Or you can just install a User Agent extension on the Chrome store from within Vivaldi, change the browser ID to one owned by a corporation Netflix has an agreement with, and watch Stranger Things to your heart's content.

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The problem is down to lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site to work on anything other than Chrome and possibly Safari (after all those Apple users are usually where the money is) so they just block them.

    The web version of Skype was blocked from access on Firefox but when i changed the user agent to Chrome I was then able to login and use it without any noticeable issues

    1. Updraft102

      The problem is down to lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site to work on anything other than Chrome and possibly Safari (after all those Apple users are usually where the money is) so they just block them.

      It takes even less effort to not test on anything but Chrome and to not install a blocking script. They're already willing to write off Firefox users and users of other browsers, so what do they care if the site is not tested on them? It's possible users of other browsers will be annoyed by a slightly malfunctioning site, but they will be annoyed for sure by being told to GTFO.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        It's possible users of other browsers will be annoyed by a slightly malfunctioning site, but they will be annoyed for sure by being told to GTFO.

        But look on the positive side; sites blocking me give me an opportunity to send (yet another) scathing putdown of the company, site, and all involved. So at least there's the entertainment value.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, in the age of fake news and "I reject your reality and substitute my own," you're liable to get counter-razzes, some of which may just take it personally...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site"

      Lazy or smartarses who make the site so gimmicky than only the quirks of their particular browser can run it.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Yes. Web applications are plagued by too-clever-by-half.

  10. IGotOut Silver badge

    Google...the new Microsoft.

    Am I the only one that has noticed that Google image search favours it's own browser? Go to it with any other browser and half the options for filtering disappear?

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Google...the new Microsoft.

      Google are far worse than Microsoft ever were when it comes to discriminating against non-Chrome browsers.

  11. Milton

    Side note: Vivaldi is excellent

    As a technical user who may have a dozen windows open to extremely similar-looking interfaces (even Dev and Prod for the same customer), Vivaldi's flexibility, customisabiity and profile management is peerlessly wonderful. I can use a specific, tailored icon to open a specific profile to a specific page, giving me a window with a specific logo/colour in its title bar, so that I know exactly what to open and where I am at any time, in any window. It allows me to zoom a specific, solitary page, without causing the whole site/domain to follow. Best of all, it doesn't spy on me, giving me the best features of the Chrome engine without toxic Google spyware.

    It has a longstanding problem: it crashes my machine at least once a day, though rarely twice (I suspect memory management issues related to caching)—and I still use it. That's how good Vivaldi is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Side note: Vivaldi is excellent

      Does it have a proper[1] UI layout? (From top to bottom: Title bar, menu bar, nav buttons+address bar[2], tab bar, page content, status bar, said status bar which displays the target for the link you're hovering over) Does it prevent pages from altering or hiding any of these by default?

      [1] For suitably stretchy values of "proper"

      [2] A UI control to display the current page address or enter a new one. It does not do anything else.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is enough unique in a browser string to track you

    There really is a point where the browser should stop handing out details just because it has them.

  13. LateAgain

    Who remembers when....

    Changing the browser string got you a playable video rather than the "flash required" version?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Who remembers when....

      Who remembers when Opera (Vivaldi's parent) was being detected by Microsoft.com and sent deliberately broken content

      1. ScissorHands
        Windows

        Re: Who remembers when....

        Aahhhh, I think I still have the "Bork Bork" Opera installer somewhere...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF

    Why are websites blocking browsers

    Who are these smelly spotty virgin nerds who are trying to tell me which browser I can use

    Block my choice of browser - block your site

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      They don't want to be held liable when (not if) something slips thorough that gets customers (or eorse, THEM) pwned.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: WTF

        The more supposedly clever stuff they put into it, the more likely that is to happen. It's like trying to stop your bath overflowing by hammering the plug in more tightly.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          Unless the moment they stop, the legal teams will be on them like a ton of bricks for not staying current and leaving them and their customers open to be pwned...

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        WTF .... An AWEsome Event and/or Spooky Experiment. Both Together as One would be Prolific

        They won't be. They can't be. They be Just A.N.Other's Almighty Conduit, surely ?

        Dare Care Share How IT is Not?

        Browsers Readily Available and Registering Comment for New Content here on El Reg would be Ecstatic to Prove IT So.

        Happy New Year, El Regers.

        2020, Here We Come ....... AI Invigorated. And in All of the Best of Streams and Swarms, for one to be reborn again and again for trying again and again to be a great deal better than just the simply good and marvellous before..

        You'll have to imagine how great that all is. ...... the present power of current words constantly, consistently fails to Evidence the Euphoria.

        Learned Instructive Direction in the Following of AIRoad Maps with Remote Virtual Command at the Levers of Control would appear to be missing from that Briefs' Bundle.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So now Chrome

    Will appear to have an even higher usage share. Not that Vivaldi has much share in the first place, but if say Firefox was forced to do this to then it really would look like a monoculture.

    If the EU competition people want to help out the world, instead of worrying about what is installed by default on Android or whatever they are currently studying force Google to spin off Chrome into a separate company and bar them from offering a browser.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So now Chrome

      " instead of worrying about what is installed by default on Android or whatever they are currently studying force Google to spin off Chrome into a separate company and bar them from offering a browser."

      Why do you think it's an either/or situation?

  16. Steve Graham

    Non optional?

    If I understand correctly, Vivaldi will ALWAYS spoof as Chrome from now on? What if I don't want it to?

    (I've been using Vivaldi as my main browser for almost 2 years now, and I've never had a website complain about it.)

  17. hellwig

    Browser Restrictions

    Come on, who didn't have a check on their Geocities page admonishing people for using I.E. instead of Netscape back in the day?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Browser Restrictions

      I didn't. But then I never had a Geocities page. When they came about, I would have been downgrading compared to my own portal ...

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