Browser Negligence: What to Do About Microsoft

In the previous posting showing two online and live Paint programs developed by Finnish University professors, one can get an idea of which browser vendors are supporting SVG vectore graphic and HTML5’s bitmap canvas commands. These capabilities are key to Web 2.0 flourishing. Here are the results using the latest browser versions from all the major vendors:

Browser Support for SVG-Vector Draw and HTML5 Canvas Bitmap
Browser SVG – Vector Draw HTML5 Canvas – Bitmap Draw
Apple Safari 4 Yes Yes-No fill, erase, text, mask, nor half of menus
Google Chrome 3 Yes Yes-No fill, erase, text, mask, nor half of menus
Microsoft IE8 Nothing works Nothing works
Mozilla Firefox 3.5 Yes Yes – No fill, erase, mask, text nor half of menus
Opera’s Opera 10 Yes Yes – no fill, mask, text, nor half of menus

Note that Microsoft’s IE browser is not even close with no support whatsoever for either SVG or HTML5 canvas bitmap operations. Yet these technologies are rapidly emerging as key enablers of Cloud Computing and more Web 2.0 innovations. All of the other major browsers have complete support for the SVG commands used in SVG Edit and and about 70% support for HTML5 canvas commands. Just another example of the apparently deliberate negligence provided by Microsoft in its browser and Web support as it works to protects its Windows desktop monopoly. Its a continuing  and almost abusive scorning of Web standards while promoting proprietary and/or runs in Windows only extensions.

What to Do About Microsoft’s Web Abusive Behavior

The Web has prospered based in no small part on Open and common standards. This is true of almost all hardware and software players with the notable exception of Microsoft. Its almost a replay of 20 years ago when IBM worked mightily to manipulate the growing PC presence and threat to mainframe hardware and software by making its PC software defer to the needs and capabilities of mainframe software. Others have noted this reversal of roles. But what is really needed is Web spine and discipline.

Google with Chrome Frame has provided a solution to thousands of organizations which are reluctant to change from IE6 (39% of all IE users), IE7(31% 0f all IE users), and IE8 (30% of all IE users which in turn has 65-70% of all browser usage) . Google Chrome Frame as a plugin which  replaces IE’s display and JavaScript engines producing a)a much more W3C standards compliant browser, b)a much faster browser, and c)a more feature complete browser. To encourage the shift,Web software developers should offer a discount to clients who make the change equal to the savings achieved by not having to create workarounds to make their software operate  in the various IE versions. The saving can be quite substantial – 10% to 40% of all the time spent on developing a Web project.

Second, governments should follow the European example and insist that Microsoft allow users to choose the browser that is installed with their new computer. The US government which caved in its antitrust actions against Microsoft is particularly remiss – and the Obama Justice department could take its cue from Europe here.

Finally, major vendors like HP, Dell, and others who are getting into the software and Web services businesses in a big way should insist on W3C and Web standards adherence if Microsoft software is to be a part of their products and contract work. How can you have Cloud Computing and Web Development credibility if you are advocating use of Microsoft software which is so abusive of Web standards?

Microsoft needs to do an about face on its support of W3C and Web Standards. Thus, IT vendors and End User Organizations need to pushback decisively or just be fated to be pushed around by Redmond at the cost of patch Tuesdays, hoards of trojans and worms, and a lot of dependence on Microsoft proprietary systems that may leave IT shops at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the fast emerging Web driven markets.