Version Control with Subversion - Client Interoperability - Microsoft Web Folders
Microsoft Web Folders
Microsoft was one of the original backers of the WebDAV
specification, and first started shipping a client in Windows
98, known as “Web Folders”. This client was also
shipped in Windows NT4 and 2000.
The original Web Folders client was an extension to
Explorer, the main GUI program used to browse filesystems. It
works well enough. In Windows 98, the feature might need to
be explicitly installed if Web Folders aren't already visible
inside “My Computer”. In Windows 2000, simply
add a new “network place”, enter the URL, and the
WebDAV share will pop up for browsing.
With the release of Windows XP, Microsoft started shipping
a new implementation of Web Folders, known as the “WebDAV
mini-redirector”. The new implementation is a
filesystem-level client, allowing WebDAV shares to be mounted
as drive letters. Unfortunately, this implementation is
incredibly buggy. The client usually tries to convert http
https://host/repos) into UNC share
\\host\repos); it also often
tries to use Windows Domain authentication to respond to
basic-auth HTTP challenges, sending usernames as
HOST\username. These interoperability
problems are severe and documented in numerous places around
the web, to the frustration of many users. Even Greg Stein,
the original author of Apache's WebDAV module, recommends
against trying to use XP Web Folders against an Apache
It turns out that the original
“Explorer-only” Web Folders implementation isn't
dead in XP, it's just buried. It's still possible to find it
by using this technique:
Go to 'Network Places'.
Add a new network place.
When prompted, enter the URL of the repository, but
include a port number
in the URL.
https://host/repos would be
Respond to any authentication prompts.
There are a number of other rumored workarounds to the
problems, but none of them seem to work on all versions and
patchlevels of Windows XP. In our tests, only the previous
algorithm seems to work consistently on every system. The
general consensus of the WebDAV community is that you should
avoid the new Web Folders implementation and use the old one
instead, and that if you need real a real filesystem-level
client for Windows XP, then use a third-party program like
WebDrive or NetDrive.
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