The world’s most-popular web browsers are still failing to recognize new top-level domains, many months after they go live on the internet.
The version of the Safari browser that ships with the Mountain Lion iteration of Apple’s OS X appears to have even gone backwards, removing support for at least one TLD.
The most recent versions of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer also both fail to recognize at least two of the internet’s most recently added TLDs.
According to informal tests on multiple computers this week, Safari 6 on Mountain Lion and the Windows 7 versions of Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome v24 all don’t understand .post and .cw addresses.
Remarkably, it appears that Safari 6 also no longer supports .sx domains, despite the fact that version 5 does.
Typing affected domain names into the address bars of these browsers will result in surfers being taken to a search page (usually Google) instead of their intended destination.
If you want to test your own browser, registry.sx, una.cw and ems.post are all valid, resolving domain names you can try.
The ccTLDs .sx and .cw are for Sint Maarten (Dutch part) and Curacao respectively, two of three countries formed by the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010.
Safari v5 on Windows and OS X recognizes .sx as a TLD, but v6 on Mountain Lion does not.
The problems faced by .post and .cw on Chrome appear to be mostly due to the fact that neither TLD is included on the Public Suffix List, which Google uses to figure out what a TLD looks like.
A few days after we reported last May that .sx didn’t work on Chrome, SX Registry submitted its details to the PSL, which appears to have solved its problems with that browser.
It’s not at all clear to me why .sx is borked on newer versions of Safari but not the older ones.
If the problem sounds trivial, believe me: it’s not.
The blurring of the lines between search and direct navigation is one of the biggest threats to the long-term relevance of domain names, so it’s vital to the industry’s interests that the problem of universal acceptance is sorted out sooner rather than later.
The newest ccTLD to go live, .sx for Sint Maarten, starts its general availability phase today at 1500 UTC.
The registry’s web site currently lists 47 registrars that are carrying the TLD, though none of the top five registrars in the gTLD space appear to be participating.
And .sx domains will not be cheap, judging by registrar list prices, averaging out at about $50 per year.
SX Registry, which won the right to run .sx from last year, has been marketing the TLD with sex, as you may be able to tell from the lovely lady in DI’s sidebar, and some registrars are following suit.
GA is of course the final phase of the launch. The usual sunrise and landrush periods were also preceded by special priority periods for companies and individuals based in Sint Maarten.
But the ccTLD will be open to registrants from anywhere in the world.
Sint Maarten was created in 2010 by the break-up of the Netherlands Antilles. The old .an ccTLD is expected to be gracefully decommissioned over the next few years.
The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.
The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.
The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.
But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:
At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.
Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.
And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.
In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.
ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.
I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.
The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.
In the occasional DI tradition of linkbaiting Domaining.com with promises of scantily clad eye candy, I humbly invite male readers to get their goggles around this beauty:
Anyway, there’s a serious point here.
SX Registry, which is in the process of launching the new .sx ccTLD for the recently formed territory of Sint Maarten, distributed this flyer in the goody bags at ICANN 44 in Prague last week.
The marketing was aimed at registrars, presumably, but the company’s web site has similar imagery as well.
It’s pretty clear what angle SX Registry is going for, and it could portend a clash with .sex and .sexy, which have both been proposed by applicants under ICANN’s new gTLD program.
ICM Registry (.sex), Uniregistry (.sexy) and Internet Marketing Solutions Limited (.sex) may have a potential objector on their hands.
Sint Maarten’s new .sx country-code top-level domain has been online for at least a couple months now, but Google’s Chrome browser appears to be still a bit wary of it.
Typing “registry.sx” and “nic.sx” into Chrome’s combined URL/search bar today, instead of being sent to my chosen destination I was instead sent to a page of Google search results.
The browser presented the message “Did you mean to go to http://registry.sx?”.
Once my intentions were confirmed, Chrome bounced me to the registry’s web site and seemed to remember my preference on future visits. Other Chrome users have reported the same behavior.
Chrome is understood to use the Public Suffix list to figure out what is and isn’t a domain, and .sx does not currently appear on that list.
Internet Explorer and Firefox (also a Public Suffix list user) both seem already to resolve .sx names normally.
While not a massive problem for .sx, which has just a handful of second-level domains active, new gTLD applicants might want to pay attention to this kind of thing.
Chrome has a significant share of the browser market – about 15% by some counts, as high as 38% by others.
Launching a new gTLD without full browser support could look messy. Chrome isn’t blocking access to .sx, but its handling of the new TLD is not particularly graceful.
Imagine a scenario in which you’ve just launched your dot-brand, and instead of arriving at your web site Chrome users are instead directed to Google (with the top sponsored result a link you’ve probably paid for).
ICANN is currently pondering ways to promote the universal acceptance of TLDs for precisely this reason.
Searches for the pop producer Will.I.Am prompt Chrome to attempt to find an address in the Armenian ccTLD.