"Modern Browser" error message - intermittent - even when using a modern browser

Hi there, we’re using lovely Enketo forms to collect data - however in our testing of the (online only) links that are being sent out, users are intermittently (but frequently) being sent to the Modern Browsers “Ouch! Sorry, you were probably sent here because your browser is outdated or perhaps it has its key features disabled by using ‘private browsing’ mode.” error page when clicking on the link we’re publishing.
The equivalent of Modern Browsers but on our own installation.

I can replicate this - if I click on the link in the Word doc/email 10 times, maybe 4 times I get the Modern Browsers error message and the other times I correctly get to my survey. I’m using the latest Chrome, and am not in incognito mode (although to be fair I’ve also loaded my survey in incognito mode plenty of times and it’s been fine). No safelinks (e.g. Outlook safe URLs) involved - the URL is just the normal ee one.

Has anyone else experienced this?

I have checked the various references e.g.

https://blog.enketo.org/Enketo-Express-mar-2020-update/
but these don’t explain why an issue would be intermittent on same machine/up-to-date browser/same configuration/same form link mere seconds apart (and no Internet Explorer in sight)!

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Could you kindly explain this so that we could try it at our end.

I’m not sure how to explain it! I click on the link and one of two things happens - either
a) form opens fine, or
b) form doesn’t open and I get sent to the /modern-browsers error page
It’s an intermittent problem - clicking on the link doesn’t always work, and doesn’t always not-work - i.e. it’s not the same result every time, even though it’s the same PC and the same link I’m clicking on. Will PM you the link - cheers.

1 Like

Hi @nat
Can you PM me the message too, I track it while @Kal_Lam is away?

Regards,
Stephane

2 Likes

@nat would like to update you that i could open the survey URL link without any issue. I tested this with Windows 10- OS, Chrome- browser. Will however explore more if i can find a solution for this issue.

There also seems to be a post discussed previously:

Maybe it’s helpful for you to troubleshoot!

Hi @Kal_Lam @stephanealoo thanks for taking a look. Yes, as mentioned the links work fine when accessed directly (or from a website). It just seems to be when the links are opened from Office365 (e.g. MS Word) that there is a problem - even though the URLs being opened are for sure correct.

Having looked at this more, it seems that most times when there’s an issue there is not one but two browser tabs opened - one tab will have the survey opening correctly, and the other tab will have the modern browser error page. It’s about a 50/50 chance as to which tab will open first (i.e. sometimes the user will see the error page (with the survey in the tab behind) and other times the user will see the survey page (with the error page in the tab behind).

My hypothesis: I now suspect this is to do with how Word opens links in general (under the hood using Microsoft Office Protocol Discovery) and it’s just that I haven’t come across this before because when we previously sent out links in a Word document we were using a very old Kobo/Enketo server version (that hadn’t yet deprecated IE) so we never hit any error messages then.

My reasoning:

clicking links from Office will be slow as well, even if you don’t use Internet Explorer as your default browser. […] It first uses an Internet Explorer component to see if the URL one clicks is valid. It does not identify itself as Internet Explorer; in the access logs one might see: User Agent: Microsoft Office Existence Discovery After that, it hands the resulting URL to the default browser.

(quoted from:)

I therefore think that when Word sends the first request using the IE component Enketo thinks it’s using an old browser, then when it opens the link for real it uses the browser that the user has as their default.

Other links that reference URLs opening twice from MS apps:

SO… we may need to issue guidance to our users to copy and paste the URL rather than clicking on it directly from Office apps.

If there is a way for Enketo to identify if a given request is from Office Discovery and treat it as though it as a modern browser (rather than treating it as IE) that would be magnificent (assuming my hypothesis is correct!).

Thanks all for your efforts

1 Like

Thank you @nat for this great search. Yes, at the moment the best approach would be to copy and paste the link directly to the browser. So my guess here is that if your PC has a browser i.e. Internet Explorer as a default browser it would open the link there first. So my advise here would be to change your default browser to some modern browser and see what happens.

Thanks @Kal_Lam - sorry to labour the point, to be clear, the user here has their default browser set correctly (i.e. to latest version of Chrome) and does not have IE as an option at all. However as per the research, even if the user’s default browser is set correctly, MS Word uses IE under the hood (without the user knowing or being able to do anything about it unless they edit the registry).
Thanks again

1 Like

Oh! Got it. So it could be a link between MS and IE. Would you try sharing the link in other formats except the MS products and see how it behaves.