Sunday, April 20, 2008

90sAREover's browser: RealOne with customized Explorer

Commenter "freemarkets" discovered an important fact when he pointed out (here) that the notorious Cools post was made by someone using RealPlayer, which has a built-in browser.  As it turns out, it was RealOne Player, version 2 (see here). Here is a screen shot in which I use this version of RealOne Player (downloaded from to go the site

The tell-tale sign is the string "R1 1.3" at the end, which signals this specific version of the RealOne player.  

Another noteworthy fact, however, is "MSIE 6.0" earlier in the sting. This stands for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0. Explorer wasn't open when I took this screen capture, but these details are reported anyway. Why? As it turns out, although the RealOne browser seems perfectly adequate as a browser, it was not completely independent technologically, but depended on Internet Explorer for some of its functionality. In Jan. 2002 someone had complained to Real, Inc., that his RealOne browser wouldn't work after he had removed Internet Explorer from his system. Here is the answer he received from Real (which he then shared with the world through google groups):
    "Please note that it is necessary to install MSIE 5.0x (Internet Explorer) or higher versions of the browser installed on your system for the RealOne Player to function properly. RealOne Player uses some components of Internet Explorer browser. I suggest you install Internet Explorer browser on your computer, then install RealOne Player again on your computer to resolve the problem. Please visit the Microsoft's web site ( to download the latest version of the MSIE browser."
So, Explorer is needed to run RealOne.

It is probably for this reason that whenever RealOne visited a site, its user agent communicated not only its own details in its user agent string, but also details about the version of Internet Explorer on the host computer. A long list of user agent strings in which we find some version of the RealOne Player can be at

But more can be said about this. As we saw, 90sAREover's user-agent string read something like this: "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; Rogers Hi-Speed Internet; (R1 1.3))". Just as above, "R1 1.3" refers to the RealOne Player, and MSIE 6.0 refers to the browser that the RealOne used to help it surf the net. But this wasn't just any version of that browser, but one customized by Rogers and distributed to its customers: hence the "Rogers Hi-Speed Internet" tag (here).

The user agent string from Warman's visit shows that he had no such set-up: his version of Explorer was un-customized, and as I've shown (here), this argues against identifying him as the 90sAREover poster.

No comments: