Apparently, live.com thinks that any browser coming from a ppc architecture is a mobile device. This sucks for the users of the hundreds of thousands of powerpc desktops still in service.
I don't use hotmail myself, but i do support people who use it. I set one of my clients up with debian squeeze on their PPC machine because all the proprietary vendors have basically given up on that architecture -- debian represents the best way to get modern tools on these machines (and other machines too, but that's a different argument).
However, this client couldn't get to their hotmail account, despite using the latest version of iceweasel (3.5.12). They were directed to a crippled interface that didn't include the ability to attach files, and was a gross waste of the desktop screen space. It appears to be the "mobile" version of live.com's services.
However, the same version of iceweasel on an i686 test machine could access the standard version of hotmail with no trouble. My friend jeremyb helpfully suggested fiddling with the User Agent string exported by the browser. Some experimentation shows that the presence of the string "ppc" within any parenthetical expression in the UA makes live.com show the crappy interface. You can try it yourself (if you have a hotmail account) on your x86 or amd64 machine by adding (ppc) to the default valule of general.useragent.extra.firefoxComment in about:config. Stupid stupid stupid.
I'd like to have fixed this by overriding the browser's reported architecture (or simply by removing it -- why does a web server need to know the hardware architecture of my client?). But there doesn't appear to be a way to do that with the way that mozilla constructs the UA. Instead, i needed to add a new string key named general.useragent.override which is not exposed by default in about:config.
This raises some questions: