OS-discrimination from LTA

Many of us use SingPass for most government-related web services, like filing taxes or logging into ns.sg to apply for Remedial Training. So far, on the Mac, I haven’t had much problems. This is more prevalent especially after OS X been around for almost 8 years. Even banks solved the issue of Mac-compatibility since 3 to 4 years back.

So to my surprised last week when I try to access LTA’s e-services via One Motoring on my Mac. I got a blank page. I tried it on Safari and Firefox and still got a blank page.

Needless to say, while starting up VMWare to try the site on Windows, I went to the One Motoring feedback and informed them of the problem.

This was the reply I received:

Dear Mr Jimmy Liew

LTA e-Services via SingPass

FEEDBACK NUMBER: 7xxxxx

We refer to your feedback on 05/10/2008.

e-Services@ONE.MOTORING is currently only compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape on Windows Operating System (OS) Windows 2000 and above.

This is a deliberate design decision as compatibility between IE and Netscape on Windows OS, which is the most commonly used combination, would enable a majority of users to access e-Services@ONE.MOTORING.

Based on the current adoption rate of other non-IE and Netscape web browsers and non-Windows OS, we feel that it is still not cost-effective to make e-Services@ONE.MOTORING compatible with such browsers and OS.

Nevertheless, we are monitoring the adoption rate of alternative web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, FireFox etc, and alternative OS such as Macintosh etc, and would consider making our e-Services@ONE.MOTORING accessible via these browsers and OS when there is sufficient demand.

We thank you for writing in.

Yours sincerely

(SIGNED IN LOTUS NOTES)

XXX XXX XXX

ASSISTANT MANAGER, VRL SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

VRL SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

VEHICLE SERVICES

(emphasis was mine)

I am quite disappointed to read such replies from companies who still hold the belief that Mac users are far and few between and shouldn’t be provided the services that Windows users received. That is just bullshit.

This is a deliberate design decision as compatibility between IE and Netscape on Windows OS, which is the most commonly used combination, would enable a majority of users to access e-Services@ONE.MOTORING.

Anyone and everyone who uses the internet will know that Netscape is DEAD! Yes IE is still dominant with Firefox second. Next is Safari at about 7% (according to wiki).

Based on the current adoption rate of other non-IE and Netscape web browsers and non-Windows OS, we feel that it is still not cost-effective to make e-Services@ONE.MOTORING compatible with such browsers and OS.

I wonder how archaic their planning and programming for them not to even consider cross-platform compatibility as one of their priorities. Yes the numbers of Mac users definitely are not comparable to Windows users but that doesn’t mean we should be deprived from accessing a government service.

If we were in the early 2000s when OS X was still in its infant stage, I can acknowledge their reasonings since Mac developers and cross-platform web programming were not as advanced as now. But after 8 years, almost all banks in Singapore have made it a point to provide cross-platform compatibility on their e-banking services. And so did many of the government services.

So I absolutely don’t agree on their lame-ass excuse to say that it is not cost-effective. Yes One Motoring is no longer managed by LTA and handled by Green Dot Internet Services (which is a subsidiary of Singapore Computer Systems), being a portal for government services, they should make it a priority to provide access to ALL users, regardless of the users’ operating system.

Nevertheless, we are monitoring the adoption rate of alternative web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, FireFox etc, and alternative OS such as Macintosh etc, and would consider making our e-Services@ONE.MOTORING accessible via these browsers and OS when there is sufficient demand.

Look. Mac ownership in Singapore will never reach the volume that will be deemed sufficient by most commercial entities decision makers. But this is a government service. What happened to IDA’s iGov2010 policy “that delights customers and connects citizens through the use of infocomm technology”? Do I really need to wait till 2010 before I can access LTA’s e-services on my Mac?

Someone should knock some senses on these old-foggies that still think Windows is the only platform everyone wants to be using.