Users of Microsoft's new design tool might have trouble getting on to the Net
Microsoft, the darling of technoholics worldwide, faces severe embarrassment this month as UK users of its FrontPage Web-design product face refusal from Internet service providers (ISPs) for their Web sites.

FrontPage allows users to create sites for the World Wide Web but uses Microsoft's own proprietary code. British ISPs are not equipped, nor willing to deal with, non-standard codes.

Once a user in the UK finishes designing a Web site, he or she must send the item to be placed on an ISP server (a large networked computer). It then becomes visible on the Web.

"Yes, it's true, there is some proprietary code in our FrontPage product," says Guy Swarbrick, Microsoft's product manager for FrontPage. "It's also true that FrontPage has far outsold our expectations and that some ISPs may be having difficulties with that product. But we are working extremely hard to resolve this issue as soon as possible."

In effect, anyone who is designing a site using FrontPage could have serious problems getting their designs on to the Web, which defeats the purpose of the product.

One developer at Netscape, who wishes not to be identified, says: "It's a bit like buying a car and finding there is no place to put the petrol. It's useless."

But far from being disheartened, Mr Swarbrick defends Microsoft's Web tool. "There are ISPs in the UK that will accept FrontPage Web designs," he says. "That number will increase very rapidly."

James Gardiner, marketing manager at Demon Internet - the largest ISP in the UK - says: "If there is a problem with any of the features in any product, we will not put it on our space until it is resolved. We do not currently have a facility for FrontPage, but we are working very hard with the Microsoft team to resolve the issue."

Another ISP, Net Benefit, has already solved the problem to its own satisfaction. "We've already got some Web sites designed with FrontPage on our system," a spokesman says.

Mike Blanche, of DigiServe in High Wycombe, says: "We do have FrontPage designs on our Web, but one of them has an issue with a search Bot [Microsoft's proprietary search tool]. Obviously, we are working with Microsoft to clear this issue for our customer."

Mr Swarbrick would not commit himself to a time when the FrontPage problems would be resolved. Instead, he said that a new version would be released in November. But he couldn't guarantee the issues would be resolved in that product, either.

Names of ISPs that do accept FrontPage are available at