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X-IE-VERSION-FREEZE
February 1, 2008 11:43 AM   Subscribe

It slipped through the cracks on my radar, but apparently the IE8 team has met with some web standards gurus and decided that in order to move forward with full standards compliance (and support the known quirks of IE6/7 for corporate intranets), a new "version targeting" system should be put in place. Other browser vendors are not amused. Should IE just give up?

There's a whole lot more commentary round-up over here. Highlights : John "JQuery" Resig sees too many problems, James Bennett gives an overview, Hixie thinks it's anti-competitive and toy lemurs act out the controversy.

See also the two follow-up posts from Mozilla developer Robert O'Callahan on why their team doesn't suffer the same issues.
posted by revmitcz (107 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been reading some links on this, and haven't yet seen a suggestion that solves MS's problem of keeping backwards compatibility while also updating their renderer. Would people prefer they stuck with a shitty renderer?
posted by bonaldi at 11:47 AM on February 1, 2008


Should IE just give up?

I'll put $5 towards that.
posted by mattbucher at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


PLEASE.
posted by koeselitz at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Other browser vendors are not amused very amused because it multiplies maintenance costs, attack surface, and has been tried before to exactly zero point zero zero one success.
posted by Plutor at 11:51 AM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I never use Internet Exploder [sic], so I don't really care.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:54 AM on February 1, 2008


Haha! Is MS trying to end up in Bill Gates's garage again? Seriously, what was the last consumer or small business (not enterprise-level) product from MS that anyone thought was a good idea?

Even a bunch of Yahoos don't want to have anything to do with these clowns.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on February 1, 2008


Ladies and gents, it's time again for another episode of koeselitz' MORAL OF THE STORY:

'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish' isn't economically viable.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


@bonaldi :
The "just give up" link has about the best solution I've encountered. If MS were to just feature-lock IE6/7 now and get a new rendering engine together (or use Mozilla's) then they could retain their platform dominance without having to worry about standards anymore.

The only reason MS should even bother with browsers would be to keep their browser installed by default on systems - since they have that anyway, they can do whatever they want w/the rendering engine. Doesn't seem to make any sense that they'd want to keep up with their quirky current rendering and all the problems that come with it.
posted by revmitcz at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2008


Would people prefer they stuck with a shitty renderer?

I think other developers would prefer not to lie in the bed MS made for themselves.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2008


Expecially on the internet.
posted by koeselitz at 11:56 AM on February 1, 2008


I've been reading some links on this, and haven't yet seen a suggestion that solves MS's problem of keeping backwards compatibility while also updating their renderer. Would people prefer they stuck with a shitty renderer?

If backwards compatibility were important in this instance, those of us using Firefox would see all kinds of broken sites. We don't.
posted by enn at 11:56 AM on February 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


If backwards compatibility were important in this instance, those of us using Firefox would see all kinds of broken sites. We don't

you may not, but how often have you been on intranets? Like the FF link points out, they're hardly used in this area, which is where the backwards compatibility really matters.

middleclasstool: I'm sure they would prefer that, but while IE is still top dog, they don't really have a choice.

And the 'just give up' link is really not an answer for MS. They will try and square this circle, telling them they just can't isn't going to help much.
posted by bonaldi at 12:02 PM on February 1, 2008


I'm sure they would prefer that, but while IE is still top dog, they don't really have a choice.

If enough web developers took the pledge in that article, there could be an effect. However, as you say, given that MS still owns the browser market, it's unlikely that commercial sites like Amazon (which of course wield the most influence) will do that.

They will try and square this circle, telling them they just can't isn't going to help much.

Which is unfortunate. Because it's really the simplest solution for everyone involved, including and perhaps especially MS. Rip the band-aid off one time, it's not like you haven't royally pissed off your customer base before, and move on with a product that you could market the hell out of as the flagship of the next generation of web browsers.

It's a shame that we're looking down the barrel of this grabassery just because MS doesn't want to contemplate shifting brands on a browser they give away for free anyway.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:10 PM on February 1, 2008


I mean, seriously, what the fuck is he thinking: "Hey, Microsoft, I don't like your proposal. My 'better' one is this: shelve the only foothold you have on the web, and start again with a new 0% marketshare browser. Go on."
posted by bonaldi at 12:10 PM on February 1, 2008


sorry, you slipped in on preview, middleclasstool. But I really don't think it's even feasible to freeze IE now. You have to keep maintaining it, otherwise the virus people are going to own all your customers. And then you expect the customers also to support two of your browsers? No.

In MS's shoes, it's IE or nothing.
posted by bonaldi at 12:13 PM on February 1, 2008


If Web authors actually use this feature, and if IE doesn't keep losing market share, then eventually this will cause serious problems for IE's competitors — instead of just having to contend with reverse-engineering IE's quirks mode and making the specs compatible with IE's standards mode, the other browser vendors are going to have to reverse engineer every major IE browser version, and end up implementing these same bug modes themselves. It might actually be quite an effective way of dramatically increasing the costs of entering or competing in the browser market. (This is what we call "anti-competitive", or "evil".)

Amen.

And more to the point I daily have to come to grips with, every web developer will also have to accommodate Microsoft's umpteenth broken implementation. I will lay money against IE8 actually being practically standards compliant. There's no evidence that Microsoft has the ability to produce such a beast. And there's substantial evidence to suggest they don't have the temperament.

I also tend to wonder: exactly why does Microsoft even *need* to be working on a rendering engine at this point? There are at least two open ones (Webkit and Gecko) that are considerably more serviceable than their own that they could be using and/or contributing to. I can't see any practical benefit to them using their resources outside of that -- unless they're either hedging against or already planning for a time when they will yet again diverge from agreed standards.

That's their right, of course, but it's also everyone else's right (and good common sense) to extend legitimacy and trust to their proposals and products -- particularly in this arena -- only when hell freezes over.
posted by weston at 12:13 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ooooh... data URLs. Why in gods name has no one supported that yet?
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on February 1, 2008


ZenMasterThis, unfortunately many of us stuck in the corporate slavery world are forced by their employers to use IE.

I mean, I have a macbook as my personal machine, but so long as I'm a cubicle slave it looks as tho I'm screwed. And the sad thing is that even the IT guys at my office think IE sucks baboon ass, but they're handcuffed by corporate policy.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:22 PM on February 1, 2008


Firefox does, and has since 1.0.
posted by Plutor at 12:24 PM on February 1, 2008


I also tend to wonder: exactly why does Microsoft even *need* to be working on a rendering engine at this point? There are at least two open ones (Webkit and Gecko) that are considerably more serviceable than their own that they could be using and/or contributing to. I can't see any practical benefit to them using their resources outside of that -- unless they're either hedging against or already planning for a time when they will yet again diverge from agreed standards.

That's my point - the average consumer doesn't know WTF a rendering engine is, much less will they know that IE changed theirs (that's the whole point of this thing, isn't it? to make it seemless?). Their market share doesn't come from being the preferred choice - it comes from being installed by default on the world's most popular used operating system. As long as that's in place - I feel like MS can do whatever they want w/the rendering engine and see little to no side effects.
posted by revmitcz at 12:25 PM on February 1, 2008


I hate it when I have cracks on my radar.
posted by monospace at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2008


Yep. And they can also set it up so that "eventually this will cause serious problems for IE's competitors". You think this is seen as a bad thing in Redmond?
posted by bonaldi at 12:28 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad I don't mess with CSS. IE is such a nightmare to design for-
posted by localhuman at 12:39 PM on February 1, 2008


I was amused by this canonical browser test which seems to be broken on every browser I have.
posted by noble_rot at 12:42 PM on February 1, 2008


Haha! Is MS trying to end up in Bill Gates's garage again?

Well, you have to admit that the garage has really gotten spruced up since 1976.
posted by cortex at 12:45 PM on February 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


And the sad thing is that even the IT guys at my office think IE sucks baboon ass, but they're handcuffed by corporate policy.

It's not just policy. I would love (love) to deploy Firefox to my corporate environment, but I can't because there's no easy GPO support for locking down/configuring it. There's some third party stuff, but it is of dubious quality. FF may be a great browser for users, but for enterprise it's a nightmare.

I also tend to wonder: exactly why does Microsoft even *need* to be working on a rendering engine at this point?


Trident is integrated too heavily into Office and Windows. Shifting to another rendering engine would be an enormous, difficult, scary, headache inducing effort for everybody even remotely involved. For better or for worse, Microsoft is stuck with IE. Although, obviously, I'm sure that's just fine with them.
posted by tracert at 12:51 PM on February 1, 2008


Thanks, revmitcz. Great reads.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:52 PM on February 1, 2008


> I was amused by this canonical browser test which seems to be broken on every browser I have.

I hate when Acid2 called canonical. But anyway, Safari 3 passes.
posted by ardgedee at 1:17 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Looking over more of these links today (and their corresponding follow-ups, as the list of blogosphere reactions grows exponentially) - I'm thinking now that maybe MS ought to code-lock IE7 and release it as "Intranet Explorer".

This way, clients needing to use corporate intranets that only work with IE6/7 would know to use inTRAnet explorer for their intranet sites that apparently don't work in any other browser. Though for the life of me I can't think of any reason why someone would build an intranet site that only works in IE6, and I've yet to have ever actually seen one, apparently it's worth enough to MS to completely fuck up the web in IE8 just to support these mystical beasts.

Then, IE8 takes on some other rendering engine (whether it's an MS-rolled take on it, or a long-established open source one like WebKit or Gecko).

So, now, why wouldn't that work? (genuine question out of curiosity, not snark).
posted by revmitcz at 1:23 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Opera 9.25 and Opera 9.5 alpha both pass Acid 2.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:29 PM on February 1, 2008


(oh and FireFox 3 passes Acid2, and apparently has a 60% passing grade for Acid3)
posted by revmitcz at 1:31 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes " I've been reading some links on this, and haven't yet seen a suggestion that solves MS's problem of keeping backwards compatibility while also updating their renderer. Would people prefer they stuck with a shitty renderer?"

That's a non-sequitur. Do what Mac did with OS X and cut the cord with the new release. Or put IE8 in compliance mode by default, and let the quirks mode be triggered with a META tag. For ghu's sake, MS, just do the right thing and let us develop to standards, not your quirks.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:32 PM on February 1, 2008


But as they say:
Because Acid2 is not a comprehensive test, it does not guarantee total conformance with any particular standard.
Many have said that the importance of the test is overblown. It's possible for a browser to pass the test but have serious rendering issues with popular websites, and it's possible for a browser to fail the test but work well in the real world anyway.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:33 PM on February 1, 2008


Why not just partition the Web itself? One part for IE users and the other for everyone else. Pick your vistor/customer type and design for them and them alone. Not in spirit of the Internet, of course, but that never stopped anyone before.
posted by tommasz at 1:35 PM on February 1, 2008


I like John Resig's line:

"Because if it was called [meta http-equiv="X-IE-VERSION-FREEZE" content="IE=8" /] then developers would surely, excuse me, shit the bed in frustration over being forced to add markup just to make their web applications render in a standards compliant manner."

The biggest problem is that IE8 will behave like IE7 by default, and you have to add a meta tag to make IE8 behave like IE8. And behavior is going to be a problem as AJAX and JavaScript become more and more prevalent.

I have a reset CSS that handles differences in browser defaults and develop in Safari and Firefox, then test in IE6 and IE7. That gets me most of the way there, then I use conditional comments to apply CSS fixes for IE6 (and sometimes IE7, although it handles CSS much better than IE6).

When IE8 comes out, all I need to do is add the meta tag and possibly a small IE8 style sheet and I'm set.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ooooh... data URLs. Why in gods name has no one supported that yet?
Actually, the data URI scheme is currently supported by Gecko (Firefox, Camino, etc.), WebKit (Safari), KDE (Konqueror), and Presto (Opera). Last I checked, that's every major rendering engine except for IE.
posted by aqhong at 2:01 PM on February 1, 2008


That's a non-sequitur. Do what Mac did with OS X and cut the cord with the new release. Or put IE8 in compliance mode by default, and let the quirks mode be triggered with a META tag. For ghu's sake, MS, just do the right thing and let us develop to standards, not your quirks.

It's not a non-sequitur. From MS's point of view, there are two options: its new tag, or keeping the render cruft. This fevered "right thing' alternative (where they do things because it'll keep the web design echochamber happy instead of their corporate customers and break all backwards compatibility in the process) is not an option it can even consider.

Mac OS X could break back compatibility because the Mac was dead otherwise. That's not the case with IE. Back compatibility matters a lot to intranets, and asking for all those pages to be changed isn't going to happen.

I don't like their solution at all, but nor do I see what else they can do that achieves their ends.
posted by bonaldi at 2:03 PM on February 1, 2008


There is another option of course. A relatively simple one, actually. The IE team can freeze "quirks mode" rendering as IE6 currently does things, and implement a standards mode that is used by IE7 and up. Leaving the IE6 rendering as-is should offer no problem for backwards-compatible sites, while those that don't trigger quirks mode will mostly work.

It's such a great idea that every other web rendering engine basically does this already - the current engine is updated regularly to adhere to standards, with exceptions for quirks mode triggers.

The burden of fixing IE8 standards is not on the web developers. It's squarely on the shoulders of the IE8 development team.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:12 PM on February 1, 2008


This, obviously, fucking sucks.

I was so happy when IE8 passed ACID2, finially we were getting somewhere, and then they pull this shit? Are you trying to see how much standards confusion you can introduce? Seriously, what the fuck?

It's all very depressing.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "It's not a non-sequitur. From MS's point of view, there are two options: its new tag, or keeping the render cruft. This fevered 'right thing" alternative (where they do things because it'll keep the web design echochamber happy instead of their corporate customers and break all backwards compatibility in the process) is not an option it can even consider. "

Certainly, it is. Why does the web have to conform to MS' intranet needs? Answer? It doesn't. MS could easily break out their quirks mode into a different renderer and make the default upgrade for XP home be IE8 in standards compliant mode. Want quirks mode? Use a META tag. We shouldn't have to use a META tag to do what every other browser already does, just so that IE can work, too. Why does the web have to bend to the problems MS created for itself?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:16 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


bonaldi - you talk about keeping their corporate customers happy. What about those corporate customers who will have to put a META tag on every web page to use compliance mode, just for the new IE8 release? Plenty of corporate customers don't use the IE intranet, but they all do have websites, and almost none of them code to IE anymore - they usually code to standards, and then deal with quirks. You are putting the burden of MS' problems on everyone that doesn't need their quirks.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:20 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi: I've been reading some links on this, and haven't yet seen a suggestion that solves MS's problem of keeping backwards compatibility while also updating their renderer.

The solution is simple (and almost reached by revmitcz earlier):

Produce a stand-alone install of IE7.
posted by rjt at 2:23 PM on February 1, 2008


There is another option of course. A relatively simple one, actually. The IE team can freeze "quirks mode" rendering as IE6 currently does things, and implement a standards mode that is used by IE7 and up.
And how is it supposed to know which renderer to use, exactly? Especially when pages that report they're made-to-standards are actually designed to rely on IE6's idiocy?

Why does the web have to bend to the problems MS created for itself?
Because MS controls 95% of the computers in the world, and if it wants us to jump we either jump, or write little manifestos saying why we'll never jump, no. Then our boss makes us jump instead.

MS does some nasty shit, yes. The way to make it stop is not to go "awwwww, why?", but instead to show a better alternative -- or give it a bloody nose. From the links, it pretty much looks like nobody is in a position to do either. Though one link did say that if this had happened in two or three years, MS wouldn't have been able to pull it off. I think that's true.
posted by bonaldi at 2:24 PM on February 1, 2008


Produce a stand-alone install of IE7.
If the goal is to keep corporate clients happy, asking them to support two different browsers on the desktop -- and explain that "this one is for this, and this one is for that" -- is a million miles away from that.

What about those corporate customers who will have to put a META tag on every web page to use compliance mode, just for the new IE8 release?
Lesser of two evils, innit? Also, adding the tag is hardly a problem for public-facing websites. The real insidiousness of this move is in the effect it has on other browsers.
posted by bonaldi at 2:26 PM on February 1, 2008


Heh. This has 635 Comments on the IE Blog site all saying "Jesus, what the fuck people, this sucks!". Some, of course, are from raving anti-MS nutcases like the readers of Slashdot, and to a certain extent most of you lot, who will bend over backwards to slag off Microsft wahtever you do. But I've an idea that a fair amount of them are from people like me who are in general fairly freindly or at leats tolerant of MS, and just think this really, really sucks. I;d like to think they'd take this as some kind of sign. Probably not.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on February 1, 2008


They bitch now, but when it comes down to it, people are just going to add the tag to their pages. Compared to the pain of fighting with IE7, it's nothing.
posted by smackfu at 2:35 PM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


TBH I don't really find IE7 a pain at all - I've got my little subset of code that I know works well in Firefox and IE6 strict mode and I just stick with that. And IE7 actually *eliminates* a noncompliant mode, so I'd say it's a step forward. IE8, with what sounds like a very impressive rendering engine, alos seems like a big step forwards - until you put in this big steaming turd that it won't actually work properly unless you put in some silly fucking tag. Which is two steps forwards, about a thousand steps back. SO in general I;d actually say that they were doing better with IE7.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "Lesser of two evils, innit? Also, adding the tag is hardly a problem for public-facing websites. The real insidiousness of this move is in the effect it has on other browsers."

Well, clearly there are other options which allow for much more transparent (to the user), graceful degradation. Adding the tag is millions of billable hours. Once again, MS is asking the rest of the world to bend to their issues. This is not the best direction to go. It's the typical penny-wise, pound-foolish MS corporate philosophy, which is: keep the corporate customers happy today, even though it may cause more problems for everyone tomorrow. It may produce the least pain for their corporate users in the short run, but in the long term, it will be more painful for everyone going forward.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:41 PM on February 1, 2008


And how is it supposed to know which renderer to use, exactly?

Same way FF, Safari and Opera do: If the document doesn't trigger quirks mode via doctype, etc. it gets rendered in standards mode. End result is that many, many old pages work as expected, new pages work in standards, and the ones in between are broken, because they don't trigger quirks but aren't really standards-compliant. Forces the people who tried to follow compliance to actually do so. It also leaves end users an easy fix: If critical intranet files are broken, they can just remove the doctype declaration to go back to quirks mode. (Alternatively, why the hell not a meta tag that forces quirks mode for these intranet sites? Either way a simple batch replace should make everything work again.)

The reason MS won't do this is pretty simple - they don't want to put the burden on the businesses that use their product. They want the entire remainder of the web to have to make changes, just to keep corporate intranet sites working. It's a pretty stupid way to go about doing business, though.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:43 PM on February 1, 2008


Basically what you're saying is that if they do this, Microsoft will keep its (majority) corporate customers happy, produce problems for webmonkeys who try and fight them tomorrow and also will cripple other browser makers?

I really can't imagine why they want to do it.
posted by bonaldi at 2:44 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've been reading some links on this, and haven't yet seen a suggestion that solves MS's problem of keeping backwards compatibility while also updating their renderer.

Um… how about a IE7 Compatibility Mode option in the View menu? How complicated is that?

Do I need to solve all your problems, blogosphere?
posted by designbot at 2:45 PM on February 1, 2008


(that was for krinklyfig, but ye caution live frogs, it seems I meant "how are they supposed to know which render to use without shifting the burden to their key customers?")

on preview preview: every time an internet commenter thinks something is "really simple" is a good sign it isn't. designbot, you're going to make it so that end users have to decide when a page is a) designed for an earlier IE, b) just plain broken, c) other, and have them work out how to fix it? Way to be the worst possible solution, there.
posted by bonaldi at 2:49 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "on preview preview: every time an internet commenter thinks something is 'really simple' is a good sign it isn't. designbot, you're going to make it so that end users have to decide when a page is a) designed for an earlier IE, b) just plain broken, c) other, and have them work out how to fix it? Way to be the worst possible solution, there."

You know, this doesn't have anything to do with public websites being designed for IE quirks. It has to do with MS wanting to please corporate customers which use in-house software designed with ActiveX/intranet in mind, using IE for the interface. It would be very easy for MS to deploy the next IE with administrative options to install in quirks mode by default if needed. If standards mode breaks Aunt Bertha's page with her cat pictures, MS couldn't care less, and that really shouldn't matter. Corporate sites aren't designed for IE specifically anymore, unless they're stuck in pre-Nasdaq crash days (in which case, I don't have much sympathy, catch up a bit - those gopher sites aren't around much these days, either).
posted by krinklyfig at 2:57 PM on February 1, 2008


It'd be a good solution in that it would give you a way to view the small minority of sites that absolutely wouldn't work right now and won't be updated to work for whatever reason (forgotten legacy sites, entrenched "IE Only zones" (I thought those had died out?), stuff that no one updates ever becuase theya re two cheap or afraid of breaking something). TBH A lot of that stuff is unlikely to use much modern code anyway, and so that they're all stuck back in TABLE land actually becomes an advantage. TBH These dyas I'm more likely to see an obnoxious notice telling me I must use Firefox than one saying I must use IE.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on February 1, 2008


Obviously, the real solution is for people with badly-written webpages to fix their code, and then it will work in any browser.

As a stop-gap solution, it seems much less of a burden for companies with bad code to tell their users to "use IE7 compatibility mode" than for everyone else in the world to rewrite their pages. It would be even better if people with crufty code could add a tag or a text file somewhere that would set tell IE to use legacy-compatibility mode. If they can't write a decent web page, and failing that, they can't add a tag, and failing that, they can't tell people to select a menu setting, frankly, their website doesn't deserve to render correctly.
posted by designbot at 3:03 PM on February 1, 2008


You know, this doesn't have anything to do with public websites being designed for IE quirks.
No shit? What, like I've been saying to you all thread? And then you had problems with because the corporate customers would have to update their public websites? Are you two people?

Isn't the crux problem actually the HTML5 doctype tag? If it was changed to [HTML5] or something, then all browsers would know to render in new tight standards mode, and we wouldn't face any of the other MS-specific shit. IE8 could still render non-standard for all the other doctypes.
posted by bonaldi at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2008


If the argument is that IE usage is important for corporate users so that Microsoft can support corporations running ActiveX/IE6/IE7/Active Directory policies/etc., then can't those same corporate IT departments simply deploy a GPO through their AD infrastructure, which tells intranet copies of IE8 to run in IE6 or IE7 compatibility mode?

We already have registry patches which keep Microsoft | Windows Update from updating IE 6 to IE 7, so as to protect corporate users from accidental upgrades that break business applications.

This is an issue that can be resolved to a corporation's satisfaction without breaking the web for the rest of the world. No special tag is necessary.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 PM on February 1, 2008


But it is "really simple", bonaldi - if supplied a doctype, render the page according specs* for that doctype. If a browser can't do that, it's broken. If it's broken, admit it.

MS doesn't want to admit it.

Fixing this problem requires honesty, the humility to admit to previous mistakes, and the willpower and market share to force standards adoption. Microsoft seems to be lacking the first two; it certainly has the last, but wants to use it to bend designers its way. What it doesn't require is yet another tag that basically says "yeah, I know I've specified standards compliance before, but this time I really mean it".

If this had been an AskMe question, the answer would have been "DTMFA".

(* Notwithstanding the ambiguities which still exist in the W3C specs...)
posted by Pinback at 3:12 PM on February 1, 2008


These ever-multiplying iterations of browser compatibility hell are one of the reasons I'm very excited about Adobe's AIR project. AIR, among other things, embeds the rendering engine (WebKit- the best, for my money) in the application. You basically write your webapp as static HTML and Javascript, using XHR (or Flash sockets) for whatever info you need to get from the server, and then it gets bundled into an installer (that actually works on Windows, OSX, and, soon, Linux) that creates a desktop app that open the site in WebKit. The installer is smart enough to only install Webkit and the other runtime framework if the user doesn't have it yet (fetching it if so), so the distributed filesize shouldn't be particularly large. It lets developers code for a single, kickass rendering engine without making users install other browsers or remember what browser your webapp needs to run in. Plus you get a ton of goodies most webapps don't, because of the special environment- filesystem access, embedded SQL database, native menus, cross-domain XHR (even outside of Flash), system tray icons and notifications, etc. Mozilla is trying something similar with their Prism project, but it's much less ambitious. I'd hoped that one day Firefox would gain the critical mass necessary to force changes down Microsoft's throat, rather than the other way around, but this solution neatly sidesteps the whole developer/user chicken/egg problem regarding browser upgrades. I think embedded rendering engines may end up being considered web 3.0. Of course, embedding the rendering engine in your website is insane in a certain way, but given that, IMHO, Microsoft is basically single-handedly holding back civilization by refusing to allow upgrades to the software platform of the future, it's necessary.
posted by gsteff at 3:12 PM on February 1, 2008


Ya'll are missing the point here. IE is not designed to do what is best for users, or what is best for designers. IE is designed to do what is best for MS.

The "best for users and best for designers" option would be for IE to be in "standards mode" unless specifically instructed to use a different mode by the page it is rendering. That way the old intranet sites could be updated with a simple shell script to toss in one line in their headers, and everyone else could just make standards compatiable sites without worrying about it.

But that wouldn't be best for MS. MS wants people to use the broken crap exclusive to IE, which is why they did their thing exactly backwards from what would be best for both users and web designers. The primary purpose of all MS software is to lock users into continuing to use MS software, the advertised functionality of the software is strictly secondary.
posted by sotonohito at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2008


Microsoft doesn't have to play a role in the whole "let's break old pages so people will fix them" strategy. There's some logic to that plan but to act like it was carved in stone by god is ridiculous. There are a lot of people who don't want to change things that already work. That's actually a pretty freaking common desire in fact.

Backwards compatibility is Microsoft's bread and butter & there's lots of people who like, even need, that toast.

This hurts Microsoft compared to Apple, Firefox in the mindshare of people who are on the cutting edge and more concerned with the latest thing. Or who are high-end web developers. What about the guy or gal who develops web pages for $50 one-off or who's stretched beyond their time running a small IT place? Most of the anti-Microsoft anti-backwards compat people seem to wish these other little folks would just up & die because they're "holding the web back." Presumably because they're not producing the latest AJAX beauty site. And god knows I love great new stuff, but old stuff has its place especially in the intraweb where kayak isn't going to come along and blow away your old stodgy expense form.

Just compete without all the histrionics. Ditching backcompat is an advantage. It's a strategy. It works. Same goes for backcompat. Firefox / Apple try to beat their way into the enterprise place while relying on their core customers. Microsoft tries to compete in the cutting edge space while retaining their core customers.
posted by Wood at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2008


Pinback: I don't think there's really much doubt about what the right course of action is, or at least, what it isn't. The issue is what MS is going to do -- and this course is very much in their best interests. So they're going to do it.

Shit, has everyone just forgotten what MS is like? Did Google come along and everyone believe the bullshit that MSwere done, finished, Google Docs was gonna be Office and we could really live in a browser, dingdong the witch is dead? This is like that bit in the horror movie where the audience is screaming "HE'S NOT DEAD you moron" while the buxom lass is booting up her iMac and the shadow is looming.
posted by bonaldi at 3:18 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


designbot writes "As a stop-gap solution, it seems much less of a burden for companies with bad code to tell their users to 'use IE7 compatibility mode' than for everyone else in the world to rewrite their pages."

That's it - the problem in a nutshell. MS is foisting their issue onto those who shouldn't be affected by it. They are creating a problem (and additional work) for those people who don't currently have a problem with IE and are coding to standards as much as possible.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:19 PM on February 1, 2008


You could say many of the same things about not supporting the various IE5.5/ IE6.0 quirks mode oddities in IE7.0 without adding a special "Use Strict mode" tag, but I haven't really heard any mass outcry over broken backwards compatibility there.
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "Shit, has everyone just forgotten what MS is like?"

So, it's one step forward, two steps back? No, I haven't forgotten, but then they make some real (although incremental) progress and finally talk about compatibility to standards for the next release, and they get everyone excited, and then they pull this booby prize out of their hat. That's why it's so damn frustrating.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:21 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


What krinklyfig said. It's perfectly possible to be upset about this and not be a "MS is teh evils" idiot.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on February 1, 2008


Serious question, krinklyfig can you expand on your example? IE8 isn't even out yet, I don't understand what problem they're creating for people who don't have a problem with the current IE? Is there some code out there that needs the new IE8 behavior that's supposed to work when IE8 comes out without any changes?
posted by Wood at 3:24 PM on February 1, 2008


but then they make some real (although incremental) progress
You talk like they're a recovering alcoholic! Instead they're a big rich mean-ass monopoly, and they will behave as such, especially when under pressure (like now). Getting excited? Mistake.

The way to fix this is to work around them. New, browser agnostic, doctype for everybody.
posted by bonaldi at 3:25 PM on February 1, 2008


It's perfectly possible to be upset about this and not be a "MS is teh evils" idiot.
Of course! But the reactions seem to be:
1. MS is evil
2. MS shouldn't do this because I won't like it
3. MS shouldn't do this because it's bad for all the people who aren't MS
4. MS should just give up, because that'll be good for all the people who aren't MS
5. MS shouldn't do this, they should do X, because that'll be good for all the people who aren't MS.
6. I don't like this, sigh. We'll have to work round them, again.

Of these, only 6 is the non-idiotic one. All the rest are just pissing in the wind.
posted by bonaldi at 3:29 PM on February 1, 2008


Here's a comment from http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2008/01/23/version-two/
I remember when Opera 7 had to implement the Doctype switch. We did that because it became clear that this switch, as implemented in other browsers inclduign IE 6, would mean we would continue to get bug reports on our perfectly spec-compatible handling of the box model and CSS error handling, because existing content would never get fixed and would continue to ‘work’. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could just say, well, this old website looks a bit weird, but that happens in all modern browsers - instead, people expect other browsers to ‘just’ handle the web the same way as the number one browsers does, as if what that browser do can easily be emulated.
So he's explicitly upset that Microsoft doesn't ditch backwards compatibility so that Opera can stick to standards and point out that there's no browser out there that renders what used to render. Come on folks. That's just a non-starter. Let's not say "Microsoft is evil" because they don't support your agenda.

The requisite assumption behind this sanctimony is that "our agenda (unlike Microsoft) is the one that will carry the tech world into a nirvana-like future". Ugh. Talk about arrogance. This isn't a command economy people, deal with it. He's mad because people don't want to use their product because it doesn't seem to work as well as IE. And the damned users don't seem to grok the whole "path to nirvana" plan that's behind this.
posted by Wood at 3:31 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not many people seem to understand Microsoft's business model. MS makes decisions based on their large corporate customers who use MS platforms and development tools to build internal applications. Those are the Microsoft's bread-and-butter, and they're probably scared shitless of doing anything to alienate that customer base -- even at the risk of pissing off lots of vocal people on the internet who ultimately don't put much money in Microsoft's pocket.
posted by Slothrup at 3:37 PM on February 1, 2008


Wood writes "The requisite assumption behind this sanctimony is that 'our agenda (unlike Microsoft) is the one that will carry the tech world into a nirvana-like future'. Ugh. Talk about arrogance. This isn't a command economy people, deal with it. He's mad because people don't want to use their product because it doesn't seem to work as well as IE. And the damned users don't seem to grok the whole 'path to nirvana' plan that's behind this."

No, it's because coding to IE is trying to hit a moving target, and MS does not document their own standard - you have to figure out the quirks on your own. Coding to standards that aren't tied to one vendor means that the target is understood. Imagine trying to code C++, and then having to go through and figure out how to rewrite your code every time MS did a security update - but it's up to you to figure out what C++ for MS quirks is, because they won't tell you how the code is supposed to look, just that C++ that works elsewhere won't work on MS. (Not a great analogy, because different platforms require different code, but C++ as a programming language doesn't change with MS' whims.) What other cross-platform language requires such hoop-jumping for the benefit of one (albeit major) vendor?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:39 PM on February 1, 2008


Maybe I just have wildly awesome webdev skills (it's not inconceivable, although it is unlikely) but I code stuff for FF/Safari/IE6/IE7/Opera/Konqueror with heavy CSS enhancement and accessibility support...and the only browser I really have trouble with is Opera (of all things!) IE6 is the runner up on that, but IE7 is closer to FF and Safari as a trouble-causer than it is to IE6 in my experience.

In my little dream world, you make IE8, IE9, et al keep the IE7 rendering engine, whether they develop it or freeze it. Meanwhile, a menu item and a meta tag allow users and knowledgeable web developers to switch to the FF engine, and MS just releases updates to the FF engine. They'd also provide a way for enterprise management folks to shut off support for that meta tag and remove the menu item.

But then, I just want everything that already works to keep working, and new stuff to work with as little fuss as possible, so what the heck do I know?
posted by davejay at 3:56 PM on February 1, 2008


er, sorry, read FF as Gecko.
posted by davejay at 3:57 PM on February 1, 2008


I'm not so sure this idea is good for MS. When a home-user gets his shiny new IE8, lots of standards compliant web-sites will render badly. He'll just go and download Firefox or Safari - problem solved!

Corporate customers have more influence with MS, so they're getting their way on this, but it'll be another blow to IE's market share. In the long run, I think that market share matters more.
posted by mr. strange at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2008


TBH I don't really find IE7 a pain at all - I've got my little subset of code that I know works well in Firefox and IE6 strict mode and I just stick with that.

I am so tired of sticking to a little subset of what modern browsers can do. I was playing with some cool1 uses for data: URIs last weekend, and you know what? It felt good. Having access to more than a minute subset of the available CSS selectors is nice. Being able to use CSS3 properties is nice. SVG is really cool. I am fucking tired of making crippled websites (and spending half the time making even these crippled sites work with IE) because Microsoft cannot be bothered to act in good faith.

I lurk on the WHATWG's HTML5 mailing list. I see the developers of Firefox, Safari, and Opera posting to it every day, hammering out a better HTML. Microsoft is nowhere to be found. I do not want to have to wait around five years after HTML5 is released to start using it because it's broken in IE.

But somehow I'm supposed to care, as a web developer, about Microsoft's problems with some rumored hand-wavy "intranet" (what is this? 1997?) software that is IE only? I've used the crufty old in-house stuff they've come up with at all-Microsoft shops and I've never seen Firefox choke on anything except ActiveX. I am tired of this. Feeding IE its conditional comments and * html hacks and dubious Javascript compatibility libraries and fighting its different box model have taken more hours of my life than I care to think about, and it makes me so very angry to know that Microsoft is doing this on purpose.

When the difference between what you can do in a reasonably compliant browser and what you can do in IE is this great, it's not worth the cost anymore to cater to its brokenness. IE didn't get the market share it has by worrying about compatibility with sites designed for other browsers, and it wouldn't kill us to worry a little less ourselves, to tell users, "Sorry, you're going to need one of these half-dozen other free browsers that actually work." Web developers go to great lengths to be browser-agnostic because they've been taught that it's the web way of doing things, but there comes a point when this is no longer productive. Eventually we stopped worrying about Netscape 4 and "web-safe" colors; it's time we let IE die a painless death as well. I am tired of enabling this dysfunctional relic.

1. "Cool" is relative here. I used data: URIs to generate PNG text headings inline on-the-fly from strings known only at runtime, which is pretty evil semantically and accessibility-wise but is a way to work around that other browser's infuriating refusal to implement downloadable fonts as specified in CSS2 in fucking 1998. Which IE supports, kind of. You can't win for losing in this racket.
posted by enn at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


I just took a look at some browser stats, and IE's market share is at 75%. That means 25% aren't using IE. 25% is one in 1 in 4 people. I check these stats every month. Slowly, the other guys are creeping up.

And it makes my heart warm.


(yes, I know there is some issues with using browser stats this way, but it's what's available.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:11 PM on February 1, 2008


You could say many of the same things about not supporting the various IE5.5/ IE6.0 quirks mode oddities in IE7.0 without adding a special "Use Strict mode" tag, but I haven't really heard any mass outcry over broken backwards compatibility there.

Apparently Microsoft has, which is why they're proposing this solution.
posted by Slothrup at 4:28 PM on February 1, 2008


I'm glad this finally made it on here -- I was dying to post it, because I wanted to get a wider range of opinions, but I couldn't, because of those darn lemurs.

As near as I can tell, the general consensus is:

Extra work = bad
Tiny bit of extra work by just adding a stupid <meta> tag = not as bad
Frivolity = win

Right?
posted by Katemonkey at 4:37 PM on February 1, 2008


Apparently Microsoft has, which is why they're proposing this solution.

Microsoft has a way through its Active Directory technology for corporate customers (the audience which requires backwards compliance) to fix this issue, without affecting standards compliance for the rest of the world, or requiring unnecessary tags. Microsoft simply does not want to promote this solution.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 PM on February 1, 2008


mr. strange writes "Corporate customers have more influence with MS, so they're getting their way on this, but it'll be another blow to IE's market share. In the long run, I think that market share matters more."

Is this true anymore for a free browser (and one which is only produced for their own platform)? Where's the money in it? Why is this so important for MS anymore, except as leverage to (try to) maintain their commercial product market share? And how effective is that strategy anymore?
posted by krinklyfig at 5:51 PM on February 1, 2008


You could say many of the same things about not supporting the various IE5.5/ IE6.0 quirks mode oddities in IE7.0 without adding a special "Use Strict mode" tag, but I haven't really heard any mass outcry over broken backwards compatibility there.

Apparently Microsoft has, which is why they're proposing this solution.


I find it a little hard to believe that something like that could have happened without Slashdot finding out and pitching a fit about it in some article about how IE is now irrevocably doomed, like they do anytime anyone so much as sneezes in the vicinity of Vista.
posted by Artw at 6:00 PM on February 1, 2008


Is this true anymore for a free browser (and one which is only produced for their own platform)? Where's the money in it? Why is this so important for MS anymore, except as leverage to (try to) maintain their commercial product market share? And how effective is that strategy anymore?

How rong can thy be? Let me count the ways. It's free because the market share matters. This is so important because he who controls the browser controls the internet. Controlling the desktop made Microsoft rich. Controlling the web would make them richer. They like money, btw.

How effective is the strategy? Well, their market share has been sliding, because they have been doing essentially nothing, for years. Now they're waking up again. While doing nothing at all, they retained far and away the leading browser share. Let's see what happens when they do something.
posted by bonaldi at 6:02 PM on February 1, 2008


I do, however, kind of wonder if theres something hidden away in one of their own products that doesn't play too well with IE8, like maybe sharepoint. I don't particularly see any reason why that would be the case though.And now I think about it, most of the windows live stuff renders kind of crappy on FF, so that's another possibility.

I sunno, that;s nutty speculation, but it seems more likely to me than concern for Joe Random Businessman and his home-rolled 1997 intranet working properly.
posted by Artw at 6:05 PM on February 1, 2008


The easy solution would be for MS to allow previous versions of IE to be installed at the same time. Let your shit intranet app run on IE 6 while you do your real surfing on IE8. But no, we always only create the future by eliminating the past...oh wait....
posted by furtive at 6:20 PM on February 1, 2008


When IE8 team announced they had 'passed' the ACID2, I had a flash back of a presentation at a web design conference by IE's Group Program Manager a few months before IE7 was released. In the presentation he claimed that IE7 fixed all but one issue from position is everything. When asked the obvious question, which bug didn't you fix, he couldn't recall and I still don't know which bug he was on about.

If the IE8 team are so concerned with backwards compatibility on intranets (I'm not really sure where that line of thought entered the conversation?), they could do the following: I can understand the IE teams stance and commitment to 'Don't break the web', but I fail to see the rational behind why they'd release a browser that as of today 100% of the web will not be able to use by default the improvements they trumpeted about a few weeks ago.
I'm of the opinion that 'browser' freezing they way MS has proposed is completely unsustainable (both from MS and web developer points of view) and that they're insane to think that other browser makers would join them.
posted by X-00 at 6:27 PM on February 1, 2008


simply deploy a GPO through their AD infrastructure, which tells intranet copies of IE8 to run in IE6 or IE7 compatibility mode?

That's the smartest comment in this thread. All MS really has to do is just add a quirks mode feature that can be set in group policy. "Use quirks for this subnet" and the admins just tell it what the intranet IPs are. Environemnts without group policy are fucked pretty hard in this scenario, especially the small-ish mixed OS business. Although it wouldnt take much to add the same feature to the IE packager, but change those IPs and youre fucked again. I guess you can always redeploy IE if it comes down to it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:42 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "How rong can thy be? Let me count the ways. It's free because the market share matters. This is so important because he who controls the browser controls the internet. Controlling the desktop made Microsoft rich. Controlling the web would make them richer. They like money, btw. "

Eh ... They don't really dominate the web so much. Sites are not "Made for IE" anymore. It's only in the intranet that this matters. It bleeds over to the wider Internet, but only because of this strategy. Remember: IE was originally released as a cross-platform free browser in order to kill Netscape (which, technically, did not give their browser away, except it was done by the honor system) so they could dominate the web and incorporate ActiveX into the heart of http. That is not really the issue anymore. Due to the way things have changed since then, this cannot be their strategy anymore. The current strategy seems to be derived from attrition, as in, the lack of competitors helps them in the browser space - but only according to the previous scenario. To reiterate: today's web developers code for quirks, but they don't code for IE anymore. There are very few true professionals who code to what "worked" six years ago, so IE does not control the browser space/em> in any meaningful way, except in diminishing numbers. This means the development of the web as a whole goes to the lowest common denominator, not because it makes sense from a technical perspective, but because MS failed to adapt to a changing market and still incorporates what are ultimately losing strategies going forward. It made sense at one time, if you're looking at it from a strategic perspective. It doesn't make much sense now.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:36 PM on February 1, 2008


dammit
posted by krinklyfig at 7:37 PM on February 1, 2008


Maybe I just have wildly awesome webdev skills...

...or maybe you're just coding ludicrously simple web pages, or you simply aren't using CSS properly.

Because if you use CSS properly on a page with more than a couple dozen nodes, you'll hit IE6 roadblocks almost immediately. The ones I usually first hit are: no direct-descendant selectors (table > tr), and no support for multiple class definitions (.classOne.classTwo { ... }). The <button> tag is so broken it's not even funny, but you can't specify attributes in your selectors (input[type=text] { }), which means if you're trying to style text input fields you have to come up with a specific class and then remember to apply it to each and every class. Or how about the almost complete lack of :hover psuedo-events. Great, so all that crap has to be added in Javascript... I suppose on page load. Ugh!

IE6 is a steaming pool of dog semen. What I usually see with bad CSS is where nearly every single element gets its own styling rule. It's much simpler to combine rules like so:
.ralign { text-align: ralign; }
.red { color: #ff0000; }
...etc
Now, whenever I want something red and align-right, I can just do class="red ralign". But what usually happens is someone creates a rule that's so specific to a particular element that they have to keep re-writing the same CSS rule over and over again.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:39 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the obvious lack of proof-reading on that last comment, but I could complain about IE and the hell that is has caused me for hours, but I'd rather try and enjoy my weekend.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:41 PM on February 1, 2008


And to add, that's why they abandoned the non-standard tags and went with compliance with IE8, because standing their ground didn't gain MS anything anymore. This is a setback. I'm hoping they can see their way past it and understand the great potential (and resulting good will directed towards them) if they do this the right way.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:44 PM on February 1, 2008


damn dirty ape writes "Environemnts without group policy are fucked pretty hard in this scenario, especially the small-ish mixed OS business."

Yeah, they really don't care about those people anyway, unless you get on the path. If you put enough XP Home machines on a network and set up sharing, they have problems talking with each other. The cure, according to MS: get XP Pro on all machines and SBS to connect them all. So, even though you can say XP Home has networking capabilities, they are weaker than the networking capabilities of their free competitors. The upsell is the key to the MS business strategy. If you're a partner (I am), they send you loads of training materials. Most of it is training you to sell their products, and how to continue to churn revenue out of the same clients for endless rounds of upgrades.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:09 PM on February 1, 2008


They don't really dominate the web so much. Sites are not "Made for IE" anymore.
Notice the "would" in your quote. They want to dominate the web, both on the server and client sides. They fucked up the server side, so they buy Yahoo. They had a huge lead on the client side, but they've let it slip. Time to regroup, then.

Due to the way things have changed since then, this cannot be their strategy anymore. The current strategy seems to be derived from attrition, as in, the lack of competitors helps them in the browser space - but only according to the previous scenario.
This is incoherent. It can't be their strategy, but it is their strategy, except only under a scenario where the conditions of their previous strategy obtain, which have changed anyway. Or something.

The strategy is and always has been the same. Dominance of the desktop with the Windows API, and dominance of the internet with IE.

Good will isn't going to help them much here, except where necessary to stop people jumping to FF. So IE has to be good enough to compete with modern standards-based browsers rendering standards-based sites, but that's all. They could give two shits about "potential", I'd imagine.
posted by bonaldi at 8:11 PM on February 1, 2008


What I find so irritating and self righteous about the whole fiasco—all the obvious things aside—is how Chris Wilson loves to say that his main goal is "not to break the web." After listening to him gibber on a panel at SXSW last year it finally dawned on me that what he meant by "the web" is just stuff written with IE in mind; for the rest of us who care about document portability and compatibility, well, we can go directly to hell. Chris is HMFIC of keeping IE's market dominance, and nothing more. Any credentials he had as a developer or programmer of good software he checked at the door of the Microsoft campus.
If we ever needed any proof about Microsoft's love of bully tactics we have two pieces today: this asinine plot to force developers into putting browser specific shit into their markup, and their dick move of going public with the Yahoo offer. Proof that they value the bully tactics over any sensible solution is here, too, in the revelation that they'd rather do this doctype song and dance than simply license (or just use for free under GNU) a real rendering engine like Gecko or WebKit.
You know lately I was beginning to feel a little sorry for Microsoft, but stuff like this lets me know they're going to be jerks to the bitter end.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:23 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


bonaldi writes "They fucked up the server side, so they buy Yahoo."

Nope. Yahoo's not interested. Took them all of half a day to formulate a response. Yahoo's a corporate culture, but it's not MS culture.

"The strategy is and always has been the same. Dominance of the desktop with the Windows API, and dominance of the internet with IE. "

They are abandoning the idea of browser dominance through screwing with standards. ActiveX is not workable on the web, and with that gone, the invented tags are not useful to them. They can't dominate it, not really. They can, however, dominate the business world, and they do intend to hold on to that part as much as possible. Apple is not a threat to them there, nor is Mozilla. Again, I see the META tag problem as a fumble. They were carrying that ball down the field and almost had it in the end zone ... sorry for the football analogy, but you know what I mean. This is just an idiot move. No good can come about for them or anyone else if they fuck it up.

Good will isn't going to help them much here, except where necessary to stop people jumping to FF. So IE has to be good enough to compete with modern standards-based browsers rendering standards-based sites, but that's all. They could give two shits about "potential", I'd imagine.

That's why their impact on new technologies is diminishing, at least outside the business world. Nobody cares what MS is doing to innovate on the web or for the home computer market anymore, outside video games (which, admittedly, is a huge market, but it's moving away from the PC). It's all about Google, Facebook, Myspace, iPod. Admittedly, the web is fickle and tosses companies around, but I have met almost nobody, home user or business, who really likes Vista. I've met a lot of people who love OS X, their new Mac, and their iPod. And in my line of work, I talk to a lot of home and business computer users to solve their problems they're having with them. Apple has a greater tendency to do stupid things lately, along the lines of stupid things MS has already done, but marketing themselves as the anti-PC has been a pretty good strategy. A lot of people use MS software. A hell of a lot of those people hate it. It's only really the business users who are generally stuck with it, however, due to software. The home user can see when they "could give two shits about 'potential,'" even if they don't understand the technical details.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:41 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "This is incoherent. It can't be their strategy, but it is their strategy, except only under a scenario where the conditions of their previous strategy obtain, which have changed anyway. Or something."

It means that the only reason they kept with this strategy is lack of a different one. They sat on IE 5 until they released XP. Until Firefox came along, it looked like adoption of newer standards and real progress in web development had died along with MS interest in their browser.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:49 PM on February 1, 2008


Nope. Yahoo's not interested. Took them all of half a day to formulate a response. Yahoo's a corporate culture, but it's not MS culture.
So fucking what? Are you saying that because Yahoo's not interested in being bought, ergo Microsoft doesn't want to dominate the server side?

They are abandoning the idea of browser dominance through screwing with standards.
You think? This move suggests otherwise, and they means they use don't really matter anyway, if they get their ends.

It's all about Google, Facebook, Myspace, iPod.
Live/Yahoo, Already invested, is dead, Zune. It's not like they're not trying here. I agree that they're being torn between business and home users somewhat, but they're going to focus on the moneymakers first and work the rest out later. Which is pretty sensible.
posted by bonaldi at 8:53 PM on February 1, 2008


It means that the only reason they kept with this strategy is lack of a different one.
That's not what those original words mean, really it isn't. But if that's what you wanted them to mean, it's still drivel. The reason they kept with the strategy is because it's the only one that gives them what they want (the world).
posted by bonaldi at 8:55 PM on February 1, 2008


bonaldi writes "That's not what those original words mean, really it isn't. But if that's what you wanted them to mean, it's still drivel. The reason they kept with the strategy is because it's the only one that gives them what they want (the world)."

OK, this is where I just have to stop arguing with you. You're beginning to get personal, and I'm getting sick of going in circles with you. These conversations remind me so much of the dotcom days ...

But this is it in a nutshell: I agree with you in a general sense about MS' corporate attitude, but I think you're wrong about their specific strategy. There are things they have to abandon, and things they are working on. The browser war was about Netscape. After NS died, MS sat on IE until Firefox gave MS a kick in the butt, but they eventually realized it's a losing game for them to fight standards anymore. It's long over, and developers are never going to develop specifically for IE again, outside the intranet. And then they want all of us to put in a META tag of their own invention, so that they can be compliant with the rest of the web. I think they will eventually retreat from this idea, because it's not 1997 anymore. They really should. The time this sort of strong-arm tactic worked in their favor in the browser space is long gone, and some of their own people are coming around to this, believe it or not. Doesn't mean they're going to stop being ruthless on other fronts.

But I got no beef with you, really. I don't like MS, but I'm getting ready to boot out of FreeBSD and into XP so I can play a game ...
posted by krinklyfig at 9:18 PM on February 1, 2008


What I usually see with bad CSS is where nearly every single element gets its own styling rule. It's much simpler to combine rules like so:

.ralign { text-align: ralign; }

.red { color: #ff0000; }
You're complaining about "bad" CSS, yet you have a CSS rule for "red"?

What's the point of using CSS to specify that "red" means "red"? It's just an extra level of obfuscation, lacking all of the salient benefits of CSS.

What do you stick in your "media=aural" CSS page for your "red" rule? How about your "media=braille" page?

What do you plan to do when you want to change those red things to green? Change the rule to ".red { color: #00ff00; }"?
posted by Flunkie at 11:29 PM on February 1, 2008


How about multiple rendering engines shipped with IE8, but strict web standards compliance in effect for all but trusted zones.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:33 AM on February 2, 2008


After listening to him gibber on a panel at SXSW last year

OK, I was at that panel. 10th anniversary of CSS, right? Everyone up there was gibbering. That was just one giant group hug for everyone that got us to where we were. Oh Molly, oh Eric, you're WONDERFUL!

So I don't think it's fair to judge Chris Wilson based on that event. I've heard him elsewhere, and to say he's "Any credentials he had as a developer or programmer of good software he checked at the door," that's just BS. He's been fighting the MSFT way for quite a while. I think he's torn between the fundamentalists like you who see him as an infidel and the corporate culture of MSFT that is still bent towards building things first and foremost for MSFT.

The web fundamentalists will get us all killed in the end. It's supposed to be about evangelism, not zealotry and purity.
posted by dw at 1:21 AM on February 2, 2008


I can see where Microsoft is coming from this. Don't get me wrong - I've coded for government websites with huge accessibility and standards requirements, I've argued with vendors that their product is shit because of its simple refusal to include doctypes, and I've pushed the standards barrow to a brutal level ("this is 2006 - how retarded do you have to be to be using FrontPage) that has cost me personally in the "I don't like being called a retard" retarded demographic.

And now I work for some large corp with 195 intranet sites which are mostly still maintained in FrontPage. Standards compliance would kill them.

Of course, the other thing about such intranets is, despite a high level of skill and verve in those (other people) that keep the networks running - they won't be using IE8 until 2012 at the earliest because their businesses are mortally afeared of the cutting edge.

All microsoft is doing here is making the job of web developers that much more tedious. Those who claim its just a small thing have obviously no sense of how much fucking time wasting trouble MS has been in the past and how this is just more of the same and likely to explode exponentially into a fiery orgy of "having to do irrelevant shit to make it work in IE"
posted by Sparx at 3:32 AM on February 2, 2008


"this is 2006 - how retarded do you have to be to be using FrontPage"

Heh. I actually kind of like the current incarnation of FrontPage - heavily disguised as part of the Expressions package. If you use it in codeview it makes a good replacement for the sorely missed Homesite. Quick and simple multi-line search & replace FTW!
posted by Artw at 10:49 AM on February 2, 2008


You're complaining about "bad" CSS, yet you have a CSS rule for "red"?

Uh, yeah, that loud swooshing sound you heard yesterday, about 2 in the morning?

That was JetClue soaring over your head.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:51 AM on February 3, 2008


We definitely are not going in circles, krinklyfig, we're zigging and zagging from intra to internets via our detailed knowledge of Microsoft's strategy. That said:

The browser war was about Netscape.

is catastrophically wrong. The browser war was about control. They couldn't have given a shit if it was Netscape or some other browser. The only reason it stopped when Netscape died was because there was no other threat.

Don't think it's over because you assume "no developers will develop exclusively for IE". They'll develop exclusively for IE if IE has 90% market share and is where all the money is. Those two things aren't true right now, but don't count on it staying that way forever. Windows is still a big beast, Vista be damned.
posted by bonaldi at 8:56 AM on February 3, 2008


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