Why won’t IE9 let me access certain websites?

I have recently upgraded from Internet Explorer 8 to 9. Unfortunately, I am now unable view my British Gas online account because, I’m told, its website is not compatible with IE9. Do you have any suggestions?

Such problems are seldom due to a genuine incompatibility between a certain version of a web browser and a website. Much more likely is that the website is performing a check and has failed to recognise the new version of the browser you’re using.

If this check can be bypassed, the site usually works perfectly well. To this end, some web browsers offer the ability to change something known as the ‘user agent string’ – this is a little bit of code that identifies the web browser to visited websites. It’s presented to any website you visit, whether it’s http://www.redenvelope.com/personalized-gifts-rprsl or British Gas.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer does not – at least not by default. There are ways to change IE’s user agent string by editing the Windows Registry, but I wouldn’t recommend messing with this unless you knew what you were doing.

My main recommendation would be to contact the owner of the website. As more and more people start using a new browser, this problem will need to be corrected and the more pressure clients put on them, the quicker they will get their web team to resolve the issue. In the meantime, there are a number of alternative browser, like Firefox or Chrome that can tide you over.

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