The Release of IE8 beta 1

I am afraid that Microsoft still does not get it. They are the ones on the outside trying to get back into the good graces with Web Developers after treating them almost contemptuously for the past 10 years. In effect Microsoft tried to thwart Web Development in favor of their own Windows platform and its Smart Client framework for the 6-8 years after IE gained a monopoly position in the browser market.

So all during that time even up to and through the IE7, Web Developers have had to spend 15-40% of their time on Web projects making sure that their web pages worked in various MS Web browsers. This is due to a)the fact that Microsoft has the least standards compliant Web browsers , b) Redmond continues to hold onto to the most proprietary extensions in the name of “backward compatibility”, and c)IE7 which is the most web compliant of Microsoft browsers, has stalled in its uptake at about 21% market share.

So you would expect Microsoft to be clear if not conciliatory in its new Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Developers: Technology Overview. And of course you would be wrong.

Microsoft does not clarify how well it will be complying with browser standards with the lone exception of saying it will upon release of IE8 completely support CSS up to CSS 2.1 (but no word on CSS 3). This leaves JavaScript 1.6, 1.7 and E4x compliance unspecified. Likewise JScripts departures from JavaScript standards – what will happen to those – are they to be forever IE7 quirks mode flagged. Will they be now marked for deprecation ? No word.

And what about IEs JavaScript and DOM proprietary departures. Redmond seemed to imply that some but not all of those would be cleaned up. But from the examples (very few and not very detailed), it was hard to figure out what Redmond was proposing. And what about new technology – again, IE8 appears to be adopting a number of new technologies but it was not clear where these new technologies fit in the W3c and other Web standards and how many are in fact Microsoft proprietary extensions. Again – no clear definition. And this after the company just promised a renewed commitment to Interoperability and Standards.

Unfortunately this overview was too familiar. It smacks of what customers are getting with Windows Vista. Now Vista is the most bloated, slowest, most expensive in initial and ongoing make-your-system-compatible-with-Vista costs. Yet Redmond is saying to consumers take it and dont try to stick with Windows XP which will no longer be available after June of this year. In a similar fashion, Redmond appeared to be saying to Web developers in this overview document – “Be happy with what we are giving you – we still own 60-70% of the browser market. And we will determine how standards are set and complied with.” Not an auspicious start to a new era of Microsoft Interoperability. And this is the company saying they want to lead Web 2.0 development. Even with Ray Ozzie on board – I still dont think the executive suite appreciates where they stand in the Web community. Hey Steve – here is a hint – it rhymes with the Pits.