April 4, 2005

MS Developer on IE and Web Standards

There's a March 3 post from Microsoft developer Chris Wilson regarding Internet Explorer's development and support of standards. [Tip: Barry Welford]

While we've all rued Microsoft's sometimes-yes sometimes-no sometimes-weird support of Web Standards, Chris tells us what is obviously quite a tall order:

In this blog and elsewhere (including Gary Schare's BetaNews interview), we have emphasized our commitment to compatibility. I want to address a common misinterpretation of that commitment – when we say we have a difficult challenge to change behavior (even under standards mode), we are not excusing ourselves from the need to make improvements. Given the strong usage of IE in the corporate space as well as embedded in applications, we have a strong requirement for backwards compatibility with our previous behavior, compliant or not; that requirement does not mean "don't touch anything", it is just a recognition that keeping our engine in sync across strict and quirks modes is challenging when quirks mode has to work nearly exactly the same as it always has. We will continue to improve our compliance under strict mode even when it breaks compatibility, and under quirks mode when it's not damaging to our backwards compatibility.

Chris is taking quite a beating in that post thread from what I presume to be web designers and developers (one needs to borrow an electron microscope in order to find the scrollbar). We're not talking flaming here, but rather real concerns, as from a poster named David:

Support CSS 1 isn't something to brag about…I mean if you support CSS 1 and 2 and flawlessly support HTML 4.0 and all XHTML then you are at the MINIMUM level of being considered in the game.

and this one:

Well Bruce, never mind I wasn't exactly holding my breath…

What we web-developers really want to know is this:

What are you going to do about standards in the future? Particularly IE7 (by Microsoft) ;-).

We don't need details. Just a hint of the direction you are headed in. If you can't give us that, then this isn't really a dev blog is it? Although I admit this dialogue is cool and novel… :-)


Still, a good read, and the noises from MS seem to be promising. If that last reads like "seem to sound as if there might be some developments that might be good in the future" … well, it was on purpose. ;-)

So, do you think that Microsoft is rushing IE7 out this summer — too short a time to develop full correct support of the older standards it missed or botched — because of the threat of Firefox?

> All this moaning about web standards is indicative of a simple problem – that web developers have gotten caught up in Firefox hype and chosen to develop for a minor platform.

Ya gotta wonder at the attitude. By the way, the response was:

The W3C specifications are implemented across Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, Safari, Omniweb and a few others. Microsoft helped develop those specifications, and then did a half-hearted job of implementing them. It isn't "Firefox hype", it's Microsoft not playing nice with the rest of the industry and holding back the web.


And that, of course, is our reality. There you are, trying to do some semi-advanced CSS that just doesn't work in IE. And it's not your fault necessarily; it's because IE is and continues to be an incomplete browser.

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