Why Mr Gates' letter looks differently in Opera

The Microsoft web server actually returns different documents to different web browsers. When I read your document in the Opera browser it looks different from your own Internet Explorer (WinIE) browser. For example, scroll down to the bottom of the page. In IE, the string Contact Us it looks like this:

In Opera, when Opera identifies itself as Opera (select this by pressing F12) it looks like this:

As you can see, the font size is much bigger in Opera's version. Some careful analysis reveals the reason for this difference: The Microsoft web server is configured to send certain style sheets to Opera and a different set to WinIE. In one of the style sheets sent to WinIE, but not to Opera, you find this statement:

font: bold xx-small Verdana;

This instructs the browser to use a very small font size for the Contact us string. Opera is not offered this style sheet and therefore displays the text in a different font style.

If you change the settings so that Opera identifies itself as WinIE, Opera will display the page this way:

As you can see, the font size is now much closer to WinIE's rendering. (I don't know why it's not exactly the same, I'll have to do some more research).

howcome 2005-02-09