When visiting a web site, your browser provides a number of details about your system and browser version to the web servers via a user agent string. This information can be used by the web site to, among other things, provide browser specific content to you. The user agent string generally looks something like this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.2; en-US; rv1.9.2) Gecko/20100115 Firefox/3.6
See What is a User Agent for a more detailed look at the individual components of the user agent string.
User Agents in BrowserLab
Most browsers have a single user agent string that they send based on the browser version and operating system. Additionally, the general policy within the BrowserLab service is to run the browsers in their default install states so as to best match the median user’s installation. This means that BrowserLab screenshots for most browsers will report the standard user agent.
However, both Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 Beta include a ‘Compatibility View’ that will force the browser to report the Internet Explorer 7 user agent string and subsequently render the page as Internet Explorer 7 would.
Internet Explorer 7 user agent
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.2; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
While Compatibility View is, by default, off in Internet Explorer 8, it may be enabled by default when you install Internet Explorer 9 Beta. For BrowserLab screenshots we explicity force Compatibility View to be off in both of these browsers, ensuring that these browsers receive and render content meant for Internet Explorer 8 and 9 Beta. The user agent strings that these browsers then send are:
Internet Explorer 8 user agent (Native)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.2; Trident 4.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Internet Exporer 9 Beta user agent (Native)
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/5.0)
Would support for Compatibility View in Internet Explorer 8/9 Beta be useful to you within BrowserLab or is the equivalent rendering provided by Internet Explorer 7 sufficient? Is there other functionality related to user agent handling that you would like to see in BrowserLab?
Adobe BrowserLab Software Engineer