Each Microsoft product is identified internally using a ProductID that is in the form of a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). Software or updates that refer back to Microsoft products tend to generally establish the relationship using the GUIDs instead of the product name. If you ever wanted develop software that dug into some of Microsoft’s software internals, you’ll quickly find that without a way to map those GUIDs, most of the data is meaningless.
A post today on the IE support blog got me really curious. Apparently, if you install the Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer, you lose print preview functionality. The culprit would be the fact that MSIA registers itself to use the .dlg file extension. Feeling unsatisfied, I decided to investigate further. I can confirm that it’s easy to reproduce and it affects more then just the print preview dialog.
Off the bat, as soon as MSIA is installed, not only will you lose the print preview dialog, but the about dialog mysteriously become blank. It also seems to affect rendering of text inside CSS styled textboxes. It certainly flat out killed WordPress making all text appear white on a white background. I actually reproduced the issue on Windows 7 RC initially but managed to get the issue to reproduce in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. I don’t have a Vista machine close by but I’d guess if 2008 was affected, so would Vista.
I can’t seem to pickup anything unusual with Process Monitor but I’d imagine that .dlg extensions are used by some internal mechanism of Internet Explorer. Considering that other software Microsoft makes also tends to benefit from Internet Explorer’s code, it wouldn’t be a surprise if other software that had HTML based rendering could be affected. It’s hard to believe that something so easily reproducible could get released publicly.
Anyone else care to install MSIA and see what else they can break?
“Luke, I am your father.”
So now that Internet Explorer 8’s officially been released, it’s to be expected that plenty of users will be upgrading. Even if the common visitor to your site doesn’t immediately install IE8 like a panicked nerd who’s been waiting for his new Amiga, over the next three months the new version of Internet Explorer’s will be pushed out over Windows Update. At this moment, Net Applications reports that 67.44% of all visitors tracked are Internet Explorer users. thecounter.com reported seeing as much as 75% of it’s users as IE users. With such a significant share of Internet users using Internet Explorer, it’s only wise to ensure that your site development works well with the new version of Internet Explorer.