IE6 beta bug can blank out email

Plan to turn surfers into serfers?

Early testers of Internet Explorer 6 have come across a bug in the browser that can result in them receiving emails with no subject line or message body.

Frustrated users brave enough to try out IE6's public beta have run into trouble receiving emails via either Outlook 2000 and 98, and to a lesser extent Outlook Express.

In the worst case, messages collected by Outlook 2000 and 98 which are encoded with US-ASCII arrive without a subject line and (in the case of a plain text, non-HTML message) the message itself is also blanked out. With Outlook Express, it seems only the subject line is blank.

The problem apparently only rears its ugly head when serfers with IE6 beta installed on their machines receive email sent from clients other than Outlook or Outlook Express, such as Netscape 4.

So far discussion threads on mailing lists devoted to the subject have concentrated on workarounds involving sending messages to yourself and copying over the file Mlang.dll from IE5.5 installations. Whether these work or not for sure we can't say because no-one in our office has been brave enough to try using the browser.

That's just as well because we hear that uninstalling the IE6 beta doesn't solve the problem when a user reverts back to using IE5.

We are talking about beta code here but this strikes us as an enormous problem to have with such an important piece of software this far into its development. The idea that the bug doesn't manifest itself in email received from others using Outlook Express, only messages from other email clients, is something likely to excite the conspiracy theorists out there.

To a jaundiced eye this looks like a move to tie people more people into its email client, 'cos after all if everybody used Outlook there wouldn't be a problem would there?

All that said we've always been keener on the cockup rather than conspiracy theory and rather than a plan to turn surfers into serfers, we'd be more inclined to think of this as a shining example of shoddy quality control at Redmond.

Whichever way you look at it though, IE6 (at least until this problem is fixed) should come with a very prominent health warning of browser beware... ®

Related stories

MS preparing for IE6 public preview?
Here's what's in IE6 build 2403

External links

Discussion thread on microsoft.public.windows.inetexplorer.ie6beta.browser newsgroup
More head scratching on comp.infosystems.www.browsers.misc

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