Update:Microsoft “Mea Culpa”

Bill Gates said “mea culpa” at the Mix06 conference in March 2006 . This mea culpa was for:
1)Stopping all development on IE since 2000(code base was done in 2000);
2)Only resuming security updates to IE in late 2001 when the worm and virus attacks became rampant;
3)Reneging on promises for complete implementation of HTML, CSS, DOM, and JavaScript made in 1997;
4)15 months and counting since announcement and no delivery date for IE 7 yet;
5)Stalling all development and/or adoption of Web brower standards from SVG, MathML, XUL, SVG, XForms, DOM rationalization, JavaScript 2.0 and E4X, PNG plus JPG2000, etc, etc;
6)Now Bill wants back in and with even more chutzpah wants to lead the Web development community again(see Mix06 conference speeches).

The Web development community should say to Bill – Welcome Back and thanks for the heartlyfelt “Mea Culpa”. Now to just make sure it was heartfelt here is what Microsoft should do (all of the points below) before we accept you and your company as Glorious Hardcore Web Leaders again:

1)Make IE7 meet all the 1997 promised Web Standards.
2)Make IE7 run in Linux and any 3 of the following OS: AIX, BSD, MacOS, Solaris — and identically the same as it runs on Windows XP and Vista.
3)Have support in IE6 and 7 for the latest Sun JVM and keep that in synch and up-to-date for perpetuity.
3)Make Visual Studio and other key Windows development software support a “Stick to Standards” switch like in Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive. What this switch does is alerts the user if any non-standard syntax/programming is being used in a project and advises users on work arounds. Even more beneficial – it grays out commands that emit proprietary or non-standard Web development code.

Just 4 fairly easy to implement conditions that start to meet the open standards and interoperability that computing on the Web demands today – and my gosh – welcome back Kotter …. Hardcore Bill can lead the Web development parade again. Not a lot to ask for a heartfelt “Mea Culpa”. However, we are prepared to entertain offers from Sergei and Larry at Google or even Jonathan at Sun.

Others Reaction to IE7 and Microsofts Commitment to the Web
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eWeek is describing some very strong alternatives to IE7 . Technology Editor Peter Coffee and eWeek Labs Editor Jim Rapoza describe here how ” Opera 9 lives up to its reputation as one of the bigggest innovators in Web browsing technology.” There are very strong alternatives to IE7 – Opera 9, now available absolutely free, is certainly one.

Paul Thurrot calls himself a Firefox lover but does not stray too far from the nest which is reviewing Windows software and gently chiding Microsoft developers on where they are remiss. And of course, that is the problem with his IE7 review. First he says that “his beloved Firefox” still runs ahead of IE7 with its find bar and Download manager – strangely neglecting to mention the Extensions to Firefox manager, themes for look and feel customization, very fast and no-reboot updates. and mouse gesture among other additional features not found in IE7. But where Paul is greatly remiss is he simply is not frank about how far IE7 is on standards implementation. Firefox has JavaScript 2 and E4X, SVG, MathML, XUL, and CSS well beyond the 1997 level that IE7 still cannot attain. As a spokeperson for developers – this is very very shortsighted . But the fact that Paul does not even consider his “beloved Firefoxs 2.0 new offerings”, due out before IE7, helps to clinch the notion that he wants/needs to split up with “his beloved”. Perhaps these words say it all:
Internet Explorer 7 may not be enough to satisfy the demands of the truly technical users who have turned to Firefox, but lets face it, thats not really the audience Microsoft is going after here. IE 7 is a monumental improvement over IE 6 in both security and functionality, and will likely impress most typical Windows users. That audience, of course, is humongous. Since most normal people would never even consider switching from IE (let alone understand that such a thing is even possible, let alone potentially desirable), IE 7s improvements are all the more striking. Horrors! Pauls gong to break up with his beloved.

John Dvorak at PCMagazine is calling IE Microsofts Greatest Blunder. Basically John is arguing that IE has brought on billions in costs and bad publicity for $0 revenue. But others argue (see other articles in HawkEye 2 category) by being able to control and stifle all movement on Web development has been the “reward to Microsoft”. But John shoots back that AJAX plus the rise of Google and SaaS is forcing Microsoft to reverse its field and with an IE7 software code base that Vista is working triple overtime to obsolete – which will mean even more horrendous future conversion costs for Microsoft and Redmonds customers. Read it all here.

Sean Carton at Publish.com appears to agree with parts of our position – but curiously Sean appears to be only worried about CSS 2. I think Microsoft is putting on a great charade – look how hard we are working to get you CSS 2. Be Grateful you Web developers. Meanwhile no movement on DOM standards and rationalization. Example the new tabbed interface elements could have easier syntax in DOM. Also no word on JavaScript and support for E4X like in Firefox or eliminating or flagging deprecated and proprietary JScript extensions. And no work on SVG, XForms, …..

Dave Shea of MezzoBlue and lots of good work on CSS has a different take on what Web developers should demand of Microsoft – it appears to be nearly full CSS 2, not be bad and not much else. But you decide here.

WaSP-The Web Standards Project made up of Web developers trying to promote Web Standards and who have specified the ACID2 set of benchmarks (which Opera and Safari meet and Firefox 2 is committed to match). They have given IE7 a dispensation and allowed IE7 to not meet Acid 2 and are saying be happy that it meets most of CSS 2. See here for details.

Meanwhile Infoworld is describing the full court woo-ing blitz Microsoft is putting on major developer shops in its dollar-financed campaign to regain Web development position. But then Redmond announced that IE7 would not be launched until late Fall 2006. So IE is still a mess.

We will keep this commentary up to date over the next few months and see how Web development community is greeting Bill and company after they shafted said community for 6 full years.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006