Embrace and Extend

The RSS community is up in arms over an apparent Embrace and Extend by the good gals and guys up at 1 Microsoft Way. Despite the misreading, Kevin Finck at Digital Web Magazine has got it right – and as Robert Scoble and Dave Winer are only too happy to say – “look what happens when Microsoft decides to embrace and extend – such nice baubles.”

Now we have said it before but it bears repeating. The ill-will, general consternation, and developers instinctive “dive, dive, dive-the Redmond demons are launching a proprietary attack” reaction would be minimized if not outright vanish if Microsoft did the following:
1)Implemented existing standards completely. Yes, dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s. Microsoft had promised to do exactly this in terms of the IE DOM, CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and XML standards near the end of the browser wars. Now 7 years later the developers of the new IE7 are still effectively mum about what they are going to do about implementing these standards. In fact, for a broad range of defacto and de jure standards, Redmond has taken a raincheck. Not good signs – and the source of discontent with Microsoft and its near hypocritical pledge to help developers, developers, developers.
2)If Microsoft extends standards they should do so in one of two ways:
a)extending within the standards process – not getting ahead and trying to railroad standards by saying/declaring we implement on this date certain “our standards” regardless of the process;
b)openly and early declaring themselves outside and extending the standard – as they apparently are on RSS. But then having a”stick-to-standards” switch available in their Visual Studio, Biztalk Studio and other development tools that allows developers to choose strict standards adherence (which acording to rule 1 above will be implemented completely by Microsoft) or the Microsoft extended standard(still abiding by rule 1 but with extensions) with a simple flick of the switch. Other vendors such as Adobe, Macromedia, Tibco, etc do this already – why not Microsoft which , according to its Cxx managers, is so dedicated to its developers.

So Microsoft has the means to easily render knee jerk reactions against it in development and standards debates superfluous. The upcoming IE7 and Visual Studio 2005 will tell a lot about how well Microsoft plans to treat the development community.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005