Microsoft legend says that in 1993, www.microsoft.com was one computer that sat under the desk of the site’s first admin, Mark Ingalls. This is only half true. While there was a server under his desk, it was a staging server for the site, which was eventually rehomed as Ingalls kept turning the wrong machine off by mistake.
That may be 19 years ago now, but in “internet time” generations have passed. Microsoft.com has been through many a redesign, but the most significant comes now with the go live of its
Metro Modern UI look. This follows successful previews in June and the rebranding of Hotmail/Live to Outlook.com.
The site wasn’t terrible before, but with the introduction of Windows Phone 7 and 8, Windows 8 and the Xbox Dashboard, Microsoft are putting all their eggs in one basket with the user interface for each being based on the Modern UI.
Now, here’s the rub. Visiting the site in different browsers has given a different design.
IE9 and Firefox present a static design, simple and clean with one huge live tile-like banner and three smaller ones promoting IE, Windows Phone and the Windows Store. The ‘For Home’ and ‘For Work’ buttons have remained from the preview, but been relocated to the right of the large tile.
Chrome and IE10 gives the same design that we reported on in June. The site dynamically resizes as you resize the window. The interface is cleaner and the live tile is a live banner. Branding is the same across all browsers. It is how the site is supposed to be seen.
Chrome. IE10 displays this way too
So why are there differences in the design across the browsers? Location? Browser incapability? We’ve checked with the big three, Chrome, Firefox and IE (9 and 10) to mixed results. What is clear though, the shot you see at top of this article is the finished (and almost live) article.
We'd like to stress that while we have checked the site in multiple browsers, with different users across different locations, this is not a controlled test; you may see things as Microsoft intended. Or you might not.