IE7 CSS Diversion: WaSP Reply

WaSP in the form of Steering Committe member Steven Champeon has replied to my letter to Dave Shea and to all the members of the WaSP steering committee which followed my IE7 Diversion Posting. My letter asked some tough questions:

=============Letter to Dave Shea and WaSP Steering Committee=========

Dave –

Thanks for your direct reply to my comments. I am not however, as sanguine as you are.
I believe that Microsoft has yet again gotten away with outright mayhem to Web developers and partly because of the interest group/coalition, WaSP, that is designed to protect Web developers interests.

See my posting on this topic here: The IE7 CSS Diversion

The bottom line is that Microsoft has narrowed the focus of their compliance with Web standards from a broad set of questions involving DOM, JavaScript, SVG, HTML/XHTML and other Web interface standards (all in the WaSP mandate) down to whether they will meet just the need to do fixes to CSS – that is all you get. As you see in my note there are 9 and 1/2 other fixes and improvements of Web standards to look for in IE7 and remarkably like Microsoft, WaSP has been equally silent on those issues.

My number one question as a Web Developer to you as a member of WaSP is why ?
My number two question is whether you believe Microsoft after their 5 years hiatus on any Web browser development followed by what is in IE7 – do they deserve to have defacto stewardship of Web interface standards ? And if so – why?

Then my next 3 questions to you are:

1)Who finances WaSP and is Microsoft a contributor and if so, what % in the current year?
2)Who is financing the WaSP team on site in Redmond reviewing their use of Web standards in IE7 ?
3)My final question is who authorized Chris Kaminskis deceitful “Three Cheers” posting on the WaSP site ?

As soon as you respond, I will post it on my website.

Thanks

Jacques Surveyer
=========End of letter to Dave Shea and WaSP Steering Committee===========
=========Steve Champeon, WaSP Steering Committee Reply===============

snip rant, with which I largely agree, once normalized for reality and
the paranoid accusations are stripped out

>> Then my next 3 questions to you are:
>>
>> 1)Who finances WaSP and is Microsoft a contributor and if so, what %
>> in the current year?

The WaSP, as stated on the Web site, is an all-volunteer organization,
supported through the contributions of its members. Said contributions
take the form of time freely given and of participation in related
efforts to spread the word – writing, speaking, and so forth. No WaSP
member receives a salary, we have no books, no tax standing, no funding,
we do not post any advertising on the site, we do not accept any offers
to review software for standards compliance (though individual members
may do so in their other capacities as authors and so on, in other
forums) etc. We have no official relationship with any vendor, and that
includes consortiae of vendors such as the W3C.

That said, Id like a pizza. Unfortunately, theres no way the WaSP to
pay for it as we have no budget. And youd be wasting your time sending
us money because we dont have a way to record it as a tax-deductable
contribution (and besides, were an international group, with members in
the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, as well as the US and other
countries).

So, to answer your more direct and accusatory questions:

1) a) Who finances WaSP? Nobody, except volunteers donating their efforts
to the common cause of standards evangelism.

1) b) is Microsoft a contributor? Not in any financial sense, although
as you already know from the Buzz and various press releases, various
WaSP members are working together with various Microsoft employees to
try to advance the cause of standards support in their products.

1) c) what % of the nonexistent WaSP budget did Microsoft contribute
in the current year? 0%, obviously.

My company hosts the Web site and various mailing lists, the DNS, and so
forth as a courtesy. There are no financial contributors other than that
indirect contribution of services. Other WaSP-related sites are provided
by other members for their own convenience and to lessen the burden on
my contributions as systems administrator.

Your questions are rude, insinuating, and unwelcome. But, hey, were
used to it. You cant please everybody, and its easier to come up with
conspiracy theories and spout nonsense than to think, so…

You realize, of course, that weve been accused of being in bed with
Netscape (during the brouhaha over BrowseHappy), Opera (during Acid2),
and Microsoft (despite the CSS Samurais first Acid test, the push to
get NGLayout adopted by Netscape/Mozilla, and other efforts that were
usually detrimental to Microsofts claim that they had the best standards
support in a shipping browser). Weve been accused of being a front for
the W3C. Weve been accused of undermining the W3C. Weve been accused
of fronting for Macromedia, for Adobe, and for practically any vendor
you could name, by people far less eloquent than you.

Your suspicions are amusing, but off-target.

Were lucky, in that were getting a chance to influence the state of
standards support in a certain-to-be widely deployed browser.

That it is coming so late in the cycle (clearly, you have no idea how
long it takes to write, compile, integrate, debug, test, regression
test, test with other applications, and deploy a browser) is one reason
why MS recent beta simply doesnt feature many improvements in the
standards compliance space. To make matters worse, due to the design of
IE they cant simply “fix IE” without testing the software components it
uses, which are used by other applications and the “operating system”
itself; so, theyre akin to a log in a logjam – they cant move one
without planning the effects on the others.

Driven largely by security concerns, IE7 wasnt even supposed to be
released prior to the release of Longhorn/Vista. Were excited because
theres an opportunity here, through working with Microsoft, to actually
improve its standards support as well.

And for this, we get tinfoil hat theories and accusations.

Oh, well. Hope you like the world you live in. We prefer, despite the
inevitable resistance, to try to accomplish practical things like
developer education, tools support for standards, and so forth, and we
work under real constraints, both political and technical. We do the
best we can, and in my mind, for a group thats doing all this for
/free/, we do a damn good job. Any ideas you have on how better to do
that job, under those constraints, are appreciated.

>> 2)Who is financing the WaSP team on site in Redmond reviewing their use
>> of Web standards in IE7 ?

2) Nobody. See above.

>> 3)My final question is who authorized Chris Kaminskis deceitful “Three
>> Cheers” posting on the WaSP site ?

3) That would be Chris Kaminski, or as we like to refer to him, Chris.
All posters to Buzz do so on their own volition. Its intended to be a
place where WaSP members can shoot their mouths off and state their own
opinions (thats why theyre labeled as the authors). Previously, we
used the “Word from the WaSP” forum for more anonymous, group-concensus
proclamations. The Buzz is supposed to be the masks-off counterpoint to
those more anonymous tactics.

Why would you assume anything else?

>> As soon as you respond, I will post it on my website.

Good – it will be nice to clear the air of all this paranoid baloney.

Yours,
Steve

==============End of Steven Champeons Reply==================

Andy Grove , Chairman of Intel – “Only the Paranoid Survive”

– Microsoft has paid $1Billion to AOL for “cutting off the oxygen to Netscape”.
– Microsoft has paid nearly $2 Billion to Sun for deliberately polluting the Java Standard.
– Microsoft currently bundles for freea top notch OLAP Engine, a good Data Mining Analytic Services, a good Windows ETL Integration Services, and a fair Printing Server with every copy of SQL Server 2000 it sells. When SQL Server 2005 comes out it will add improved OLAP, Analytic, ETL, Reporting Server plus a new client side Report Designer plus new Notification Services – all for free too. Microsoft knows full well that this will “cut off the oxygen” to its erstwhile BI-partners but now competitors Actuate, Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion, ProClarity, Microstrategy among others because they cannot match the zero price+charge for a database since they dont have the database to do the same. See my article BIBlitzKrieg for details.
-Microsoft advised its ISV partners at its July 2005 Business Conference in Minneapolis to stay clear of various horizontal program/software markets and instead become VARs and offer Microsofts products instead as part of its entry into vertical markets. Talking to some ISV attendees at the show – either they were not amused or they insisted it was the BI or ERP guys and not their ECM market that Microsoft was advising not to enter.

Steven – why do I mention all of this? To establish some “tinfoil” baseline facts. Microsoft has always been and continues to be a very hardball player – not infrequently crossing business ethical lines to achieve its ends. So I say Microsoft needs 4 things in the browser market:
1)First and foremost to maintain its dominant browser market share of 70%++ so it can dictate which standards and what new innovations will be adopted in the browser market place;
2)But also to slow Web interface technologies and innovations to a minimal pace to give their desktop-based Smart Clients the best possible opportunity to take hold;
3)To improve their IE browser just good enough to meet security and ease of use “as is ” needs in order to fend off growing market share trends not just from Firefox/Mozilla but all the major alternative browser vendors;
4)To get some major IT media player or Web standards interest group to declare that
a)Microsoft tried hard to deliver Web standards;
b)what is in IE7 is the best, honest try on Microsofts part to deliver Web standards;
c)that in the future they expect to see Microsoft moving closer to Web Standards.
This latter point will then make the IE Browser appear to be “just good enough” on standards such that along with “just good enough” security and interface improvements, IE7 will nip the growth momentum off of competitive browsers.

Now I realize that despite the fact that I worked for two software firms actively involved in the development of software I couldnt possibly have any “idea how long it takes to write, compile, integrate, debug, test, regression test, test with other applications, and deploy a browser” like IE. I also realize, that I, like some other members of the hoi polloi, have dared to think that Microsoft might try to manipulate or coerce or get certain members of WaSP or any other organization into making a statement like 4) above under duress, inducements or otherwise.

But, being Andy Grove-ish paranoid and having noted that you carefully skirted answering my first two questions on the suitability of Microsoft to be the defacto stewards of Web interface standards either on a personal or WaSP spokesman basis, I will ask the following of you. God forbid that some small renegade minority were to inadvertently speak for WaSP members in general on the issue of IE7 standards suitability. So I ask that within 3 days after the release of IE7, WaSP either does one of two things. 1) Declares that it will not assess and pronounce on the suitability of IE7 or any other browser for meeting Web Standards – and that any individual WaSP members who do make such as assessment are speaking for themselves and not WaSP in general. Or 2) make an official annoucement of its assessment of IE7 versus at least the three main browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari) with regards to how each one supports all of the standards that WaSP is fighting for:
XHTML 1 and 1.1
XML 1.0
CSS 1, 2, 3
DOM Level 1, 2
JavaScript 262
MathML 1, 2
SVG 1.0. And then there should be an overall assesment of how the browser vendor is doing in terms of support for general Web standards. Finally, WaSP should also declare how the assessment was done including who was involved.

If WaSP does this then everything is copacetic.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005