Question in a nutshell: how can I determine the cause of a problem that occurs in Linux but not Windows (my working theory: it is due to differences between IcedTea-based Java and the Java run in Windows)?
Note: this question involves a web site but is not about the web aspect. I already posted a question on the Web Apps site, originally thinking it was a web app problem. That question includes a description of my research into the web aspect of the problem. However, further testing indicates that it is limited to Linux. My question here is focused on the Linux aspect.
I do most of my work in Debian Wheezy. I also have Mint 17.1 and Windows 7. A few days ago, I suddenly started experiencing a problem in Linux (both distros), but not in Windows, with a single web site.
I have an Outlook.com email account, and the email has become inaccessible via the web. Shortly after the web site opens, the messages list becomes greyed out and a popup window loads demanding action on a Skype account. It requires either signing into an existing Skype account or creating one.
Microsoft replaced Messenger in Outlook.com with Skype and the popup is part of an effort to make it convenient for people to integrate an existing Skype account or to create a new one that is integrated with the email account. I don't have a Skype account, or need one, and there is no way to close or bypass this popup to return to email activity. Microsoft does not have a new policy requiring email users to have a Skype account; this is simply buggy behavior. The problem doesn't happen in Windows.
The problem occurs in all of the browsers I've tested in Linux (both Debian and Mint), but does not occur in any of the browsers I tested in Windows. One of these is Firefox, with the same version and add-ons in Windows, Debian, and Mint. The problem occurs in both of the Linux distros but not in Windows. So the problem is not browser-specific or limited to a single Linux distro.
There was not previously any problem with accessing Outlook.com from Linux, so I suspect it was triggered by either a recent change to the Outlook.com web site, or a recent system update that affects at least Debian-family distributions.
The only common denominator I can think of is that the issue could be Java-based (a common source of web site difficulties). The Debian family distros use a version based on IcedTea, which is not identical to what is used in Windows. I have the latest available Java versions on the different platforms, and the browsers are all current versions, even on Debian.
BTW, when I thought this was a web site issue, I tried contacting Microsoft. Long story short, Microsoft doesn't provide Linux support (apparently, they have some operating system of their own).
How can I diagnose the underlying problem (or verify that Java is the issue)? And, of course, is there a Linux solution? My online research didn't turn up other reports of the same issue, but it's been only a few days since the problem started.
Strange related behavior (only in Linux), that might help someone more knowledgeable than me:
OK 1st time only One browser I tested is bare-bones Chromium. I tried it with Outlook.com and it worked, leading me to think it was a browser issue. I posted an answer on the Web Apps site that the solution was to use a different browser. The next day I used it for Outlook.com and the popup window problem was there, too (I deleted the answer).
I just encountered the same pattern in Firefox. I had manually disabled extensions and plug-ins as a test, and that hadn't affected the problem. I started in safe mode and Outlook.com worked. I again tried manually disabling add-ons, but the problem was back. I tried safe mode again, and just like Chromium, it was a one-time fix. The second time had no effect on the problem.
Other Microsoft Web Sites It just occurred to me that Outlook.com is not the only problematic Microsoft web site. Clicking on links to various Microsoft sites (support and reference pages), usually brings up a sign-in page as if I need to log into my Microsoft account in order to view any Microsoft page. These are pages that the public can freely access.