Microsoft, IE and the Web Standards Project


There is a long thread over at thinkvitamin.com in the comments of an interview with Molly Holzschlag.  I’ll avoid monologueing on whether one should consider web standards a battle or not, and just weigh in on the comments threads.


 


Malarkey said “whether or not Microsoft chooses to adopt the standards war cry for ethical or business reasons is not a matter worth discussing.”   Though this was misinterpreted by others in the comments and I applaud Malarkey’s Nietzsche-esque reasoning, I actually disagree.


 


From ten years of experience in championing standards and web development inside Microsoft, I think it’s actually critically important that the reasons for supporting standards in our products – particularly IE – be business ones.  Business reasons stand the test of time.  Pure altruistic “ethical” reasons are hard to defend to shareholders.  I personally believe there is a business case for implementing standards, and I consider it my job, among other things, to make that case internally.


 


I found the idea of Molly, Malarkey and the Web Standards Project selling out first snortingly funny, and then fairly offensive.  I would guess that anyone who has met Molly in person would know better than to think that she could be bought.  Of course, anyone who knew me at all would understand the same, but I don’t expect many of you to understand that (though at least one does – thanks Jon).  I’ll apologize in advance for some of my tone in this post; sooner or later, the frustration is bound to get to me.  Understand that this post contains my personal opinions, and is neither the voice of Microsoft nor reviewed or approved by anyone I work for.  I’ll take that opportunity to be a bit snarkier than I usually would be.


 


Somehow, a lot of you seem to equate bitching and moaning with actually accomplishing something.  Sad, really, because it’s the opposite of true.


 


Justin Reese says, “I applaud the efforts of the WaSP, but since this alliance with MS, it seems that diplomacy has rendered their language somewhat impotent. If that’s what finally brought IE7 up to where it is now, I apologize and yay diplomacy. But otherwise, let’s kick some ass and get MS up to speed.”


 


The Web Standards Project finally realized that working with Microsoft would probably be more productive if they worked with them rather than just sniping at them (which, by the way, is pretty effectively ignored).  Congratulations, you too can change the world if you apply pressure in the right way.  I applaud their change of tone, because it makes it a lot easier for me to apply their arguments as pressure internally; they’re obviously representing a real set of customers, and rationally thinking about the best things for those customers.  I appreciate the hard work that Molly, Andy, DL and others have put in to represent web developers and work with us here at Microsoft to make the world better.  Threads like this one infuriate me because they are doing the right thing for you, and you’re giving them guff.


 


Dallas asks: “So why is WaSP wasting its valuable time with a company that has absolutely no intention of supporting standards?”


 


Perhaps because your rhetoric is completely incorrect and misleading, and we DO have every intention of supporting standards, and have been proving that.  I think IE7 makes a solid step in the right direction, and shows that we are investing there.  We made NO proprietary additions to the platform, and spent all our time fixing standards bugs and implementing standards features in the platform, in IE7.  If you are a great developer and want to help make the world better by implementing standards, fabulous – we’re still hiring.  Drop me a line.


 


Dallas also said “All WaSP do is defend IE these days, and yet where are the web communities development assurances? We still have none…” and “…unless there is a pledge from MS to support standards outright…”


 


What pledge are you looking for, exactly?  That we won’t implement anything that isn’t a W3C Recommendation?  Huh, no one else has done that.  That we will implement EVERYTHING that IS a W3C Recommendation?  Well, no one else has done that either.  (I seem to recall a CSS 2.0 challenge I made years ago that no one has collected on.  The first full implementation of CSS 2.0 with no bugs I can find gets to collect.  Note the laxity in definition of full and compliant.)  That we will comply with standards?  Well, I’m trying to, and random “acid tests” get publicized that aren’t compliance tests at all, but that’s how the community treats them – yet I’ll still maintain that fixing the three-pixel jog and overflow problems was a lot more important than adding data URL support in IE7.  Sorry, that one just slipped out.


 


Dallas, you also said “where are the web developers’ assurances that MS won’t continue to restrain web technologies in general to gain business advantages, like they have for the last 5 years?” – I can’t come up with any response to that asinine question that doesn’t include an obscenity.  I tried a couple of times.  Perhaps you should look back in your web history books into who shipped the first mass-market CSS implementation, and consider the full balance.  Perhaps you should think about who invented the XMLHTTPRequest object.


 


I’m sorry Microsoft took an apparent vacation for a few years.  Mea culpa.  Mea maxima culpa.  Go watch Bill Gates’ and Dean Hachamovitch’s keynote addresses from the MIX06 conference, maybe their apologies will mean more.  You can continue to stew in that if you want.  I’m not asking that people forget that vacation – I don’t expect them to.  I’ve moved on, and I’m trying to do the right thing now.  There’s a difference between stewing in the past, and figuring out where to go from here.


 


Dallas: “It’s becoming progressively clearer that MS’s recent efforts in the areas of standards compliance are there to mitigate the voices of angry detractors, and stymie the flow of users away from IE. Not actually to support standards.”  WHAT??!?!?!?!?!?!  I translate this as “Microsoft is just supporting standards because that’s what people want.  They’re not actually supporting standards.”   HUH?!?!?!?!?!?!?


 


Pete says, “Now, where is the sense in them suddenly changing tack and creating software that is the same as everyone else… Where has their potential for innovation (within their own framework) gone?”


 


Are Opera, Safari and Mozilla exactly the same software?  Do they innovate?  Does the world not change, and should Microsoft not change with it?  


 


Pete says, “It’s [Microsoft’s] plan, their goal, to tie everything up so it can be integrated with the OS. It’s convergence.”  I think the “OS” in that sentence is a red herring.  Yes, I want everything to integrate together.  I love mashups (I co-wrote an internal whitepaper on the topic with Scott Isaacs of Live fame last year).  Doesn’t everyone want this level of integration?  Your error is in not understanding that we get that not everything is Microsoft services, let alone software.  Pete also says “[Microsoft] want[s] everyone to use MS software for everything they might ever want to do.”  Well, duh – of course I’d PREFER you use Microsoft software (and services) rather than our competitors’ software or services.  I’m a Microsoft shareholder.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand some mashups are going to use Google Maps rather than Virtual Earth, or that I have any vested interest in making that any less easy.  In fact, I think not enabling that integration would be irresponsible to our own shareholders (see “there is a business case for standards,” paragraph 2).


 


Dallas also says “It didn’t take WaSP to let the IE team know that web developers really want like :hover on any block element, or alpha in PNGs, because the web developer community as a whole already let them know those things.”  Quite right, it didn’t – but having the Web Standards Project act (in contrast to the past, I’d mention) as a rational representative of the web developer community that we can ask for advice has actually helped quite a bit in setting priorities.  You know, priorities – those things you have to deal with when you can’t bend space and time and get everything you want, today.  Again – we’re hiring.


 


Justin Reese asks, “It doesn’t matter to me if every single member of the IE team is a standards-tooting W3C member; do those people have the power and freedom within MS to enact change? … Will MS allow IE7 to stagnate like IE6 did, or will they release point releases that improve the standards compliance like, well, every other browser maker does?”


 


Yes, I have the power to enact change.  Yes, I will continue to improve standards support and compliance in IE, and make the web better.  That’s my job, my charter, my vision, and my passion.  The day it isn’t, I’ll quit.  The day the development of the standards-based platform in IE goes on a back burner again, I’ll quit.  My management up to and including Bill Gates has said we are back in the saddle with IE, so I have a job to get back to.


 


-Chris Wilson



Comments (111)

  1. Good posting.

    I think what would defuse a lot of the current debate over whether MS really has a genuine commitment to implementing standards beyond IE7 is to publish some sort of roadmap, setting out what you plan to work on next.

    It would be interesting to know how much refactoring of the engine remains to be done to remove all the problematic stuff like hasLayout and other hackiness to get a workable and more solid release that is IE7. Clearly the removal of the PIE bugs indicates a *lot* of refactoring work, but the engine is clearly far from perfect still as there are odd little problems here and there.

    We keep hearing how the next two versions of IE are currently under development, so there is presumably some idea of what’s going in there. Publishing an indication of what’s going to be worked on next would difuse a lot of the debate.

  2. Ryan Carson says:

    Hi Chris,

    I just wanted to thank you for taking time to respond to the comments on Molly’s feature.

    As an editor at Vitamin, I want to let you know that we’re really encouraged by the progress that IE is making towards Standards.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Ryan

  3. Tyson says:

    A lot of us web developers are (rightfully) skeptical of most anything that comes out of Microsoft. While I, personally, have some big issues with how Microsoft conducts itself as a company, I’m heartened to see the IE 7 team fighting the good fight and moving in the right direction. However, realize that IE 5 and 6 burned a *lot* of bridges to the web development community that’s going to take a whole lot more than a bug-fix release to mend.

    So I wouldn’t expect a glowing reception from the community anytime soon. The best you guys will be able to do is to prove yourselves worthy of adoration from a cynical and stubborn group of designers.

    That said, I still don’t see why the general IE 7 team’s positon on the incomplete support of CSS 2 and 3 seems to be "but no one else does!" That’s a total cop out. The IE team could take some serious initiative in this area and be the industry leader in the amazing capabilities that CSS 2 and 3 can give to web designers. Does IE have to wait for everyone else to implement something before it catches up a few years later? I sure hope not.

    The coming years will be your guys’ chance to effect some real change — some positive change — on the internet. You guys have a real chance to do something for the betterment of the entire internet.

    Or, I’m sorry, are shareholders more important than the future of the internet?

    (Sorry for the tone, but I’m one of the frustrated, overworked, and cynical web developers that spends 20% of his billable time on IE issues. No offense intended!)

  4. Jason says:

    Well, this is all very nice and all, but the problem still remails: IE is not standards compliant. How long has it been since a new release of IE? How many years? And in that vast amount of time, how painful has it been for developers?

    IE has caused quite a bit of pain and MS has basically ignored the development community (not to mention they keep fostering non-standards with many of their components (ATLAS and ASP.net ))…

    All of these problems could have been fixed with a diligent update of IE. But, truth be told, we all know why this was not done; MS hoped that everyone would just bend to them. Since this hasn’t happened, MS is just now talking "standards", but it really wishes people were just sheep.

  5. cwilso says:

    Thomas: We’ve been discussing how to roll out a roadmap, and avoid the pitfalls of that public approach.  You’ve given me some ideas, though.

    Ryan: No problem at all.  Nice interview.

    Tyson: I’m not looking for a glowing reception, nor do I really need adoration.  Your comment about IE5 and IE6 burning a lot of bridges frustrates me, however.  Was IE5 not the most standards-compliant in its day?  Was not IE6, for that matter?  (Actually, Mac IE 5 was probably the winner there.)  We were certainly way ahead of Netscape Navigator.

    I think Microsoft as a company burned one very important bridge – we haven’t delivered non-security upgrades to our web standards platform since August 24th, 2001  (IE6 ship date).  We deserve your collective ire for that – but please don’t expect me to agree that IE5 and IE6 were only dragged kicking and screaming into standards.

    Jason:  That means it has been 4 years, 8 months, and approximately 18 days since our standards support has been updated (we did do a lot of work in the XPSP2 release of IE – but don’t get me started there).  In short, though, you are stewing in where we’ve been; I’m not biting, because I need to focus on where we can go.

  6. Jesse says:

    Great post and while I can understand where you’re coming from with the anger and frustration.  It’s been said before but I applaud you for fighting the good fight.  Cheers!

    However.

    In comparison to the many years the entire web community has spent frustrated, pissed off, mad, etc. due to IE’s all encompassing problems out weighs any amount of frustration, anger or pain from the IE 7 development team.  I’m sorry, but the best response you’ll get from us is most likely a weak acknowledgement that doesn’t contain explicatives.

    That will be your recognition.  Take it or leave it, I don’t care and I doubt the rest of the web development community will either.  I refuse to throw you a parade for everything IE has put us through.

  7. I have just posted this back at Vitamin but I will repost here too:

    The problem of standards on the Internet is in someways comparable to the development of medicine and medical practice; Dallas is the classic angry relative of a patient, yelling at the doctor that is trying to help. Maybe Dallas will calm down and shake the doctor’s hand when he realises that things are being done to make things better.

    When you have something like technology or medicine things continually change and people eventually learn from their mistakes and start to make improvements for the good of everybody but it is a messy and painful process that takes time so to some degree Dallas’s rant is understandable but it doesn’t mean the doctor should put with it because they (Chris Wilson) have feelings too.

    WASP is like a patient support group with leaders and experts who can advise and converse with both patients and the medical profession. What good would a medical support group be if all it did were criticise and moan? That only frightens the people they are supposed to be supporting. They need to work with the doctors to let them know what patients’ want, need and like.

    Sorry to labour that analogy but hopefully you get what I mean.

    We all want the web to be perfect but with so many variables, interests and other things to consider that is going to be some way off (if ever) but with products like Firefox and IE7 they are a step in the right direction and that is much better than standing still and arguing with each other.

  8. Simon says:

    Always good to hear the "Other" side of an argument, although I hate to admit that’s probably exactly what the response to this will be… There is, it seems, a community within the community, and I’ve been guilty myself in the past, that simply put will never accept MS as anything but the anti-christ of anything they do, particulary on the internet.

    I applaude that MS are addressing the issues and making a valient attemt to move forward (or should that be "catch up"?… sorry, couldn’t help it, that one just slipped out 😉

    I myself am looking forward to IE7 although I’m sure in the short term it will make life harder.

    While Tyson is right, we do spend a lot of our time addressing issues within IE, we should not forget that IE has, in the past, facilitated a considerable amount of forward momentum in the web arena without which we may not have been where we are today… and for that perhaps they should be forgiven their error in judgement in taking the extended holiday that was/is IE 6.

    They have acknowledged they made a mistake and action is being taken… it’s time to move on.

  9. ucantblamem says:

    Jason, did u read the article? In the words of Garth (Waynes world) "Stop torturing yourself dude, LIVE IN THE NOW!!"

    I am a web designer also frustrated by IE 6, but just as Chris said in THIS article – there’s no point bitching about the past, we need to move forward and look to the future.

    I’m a firefox user, have been and probably will be for a long time, but I’m really liking the progress the IE team has been making. IE 7 is looking pretty good (can’t wait for it to phase-out IE 6) and I’ve even heard rumor of some very cool stuff being looked at for IE 8.

    Chris, keep up the good work mate – you’re doing great!!! 😉

  10. Tyson says:

    cwilso: The "bridges" I was talking about were in reference to exactly what you just mentioned: MS never released any fixes for the CSS/DOM/HTML/XHTML bugs. That’s exactly why Firefox has gained such a foothold against IE – it’s much more nimble than MS and can issue bug fixes within a matter of weeks. With IE – who knows how long. (Is there any official comment yet on whether or not IE 7 will get patched for bugs?)

    I’m kind of coming from the position that I feel Microsoft has a responsibility to make good on the past wrongs. Is it wrong to ask for a company to be a responsible member of the communities it partakes in? I sure hope not.

    Like I said, I’m hopefull for the future of IE 7, but based on my ten years of dealing with Microsoft browsers, I remain skeptical.

    So, I guess I’d be a lot more reassured (many other people, as well) if I could know the answers to the following:

    1. When bugs are found in IE 7, how soon can we expect them to be fixed and a patch disseminated to current IE 7 users? Weeks? Never?

    2. Will IE 7.x versions improve upon standards compliance and expand support for CSS 2 and 3? (i.e. is this in the roadmap?)

    Again, pardon my cynicism and angry tone, but it’s pretty hard to be Mr. Sugary Sweet after dealing with IE 6 for so many years :-/

  11. Chris Wible says:

    I have to admit, like many others, I’ve damned Microsoft time and time again for a great number of reasons – 90% of which are based on my feelings for Internet Explorer.

    One thing you could take from this post would be that, were it not for the way Explorer has mangled my designs over the years, I would otherwise be a happy Microsoft customer. As I see it, we (users) will always hate whoever is on top – the one giving us the software we use to manage our lives: "I hate Microsoft because of that F-ing paperclip" and so on. As long as MS is an integral part of my life I will always point occasional fingers at them. But it’d be the same if it was someone else.

    That said, for years I’ve been hoping MS would "get it right" – I define "get it right" as "do it the way I want! ME." I’d love a fully integrated system that did everything the way that I want – but business dictates that the lowest common denominator weighs more than I do so I have to deal with the paperclips every now and then.

    Which brings me to the new IE revision and my feelings toward it. I can’t bring myself to install it. I’m going to wait until the official release – I try to make my environment as close to my users’ as possible (or at least have the option – I use Firefox by choice and IE for testing). Honestly, I hope IE7 is wonderful. I’d love to see it make the grade – but I’m so laden with skeptisism that it’ll be hard for me to give it an honest chance – as I imagine holds true for my peers.

    My point, if there is one among all this rambling, is reading this post is the first time I’ve heard a voice from MS that I could empathise with. You’ve got your work cut out for you – the web development community (by and large) wants you to fail.

    I’m going to give IE7 a chance, for one week… if only it wouldn’t replace IE6: 85% of users use that and I need to test (and I’m not doing some stand alone hack) – I want to be able to run multiple versions of browsers.

    Ok, I’m done.

  12. Klaus says:

    Chris, Great post – some nice reality injected into what has allways been a debate loaded by self intrests and MS vs the rest bashing.

    I love the Beta releases and wait with much anticipation for the final release.

    My only gripe… IE 5, 5.5 and 6 won’t disappear overnight, indeed it’s likely I’ll still be supporting these for the next few years. Rather than loading up Virtual PC or having dedicated testing PC’s will there please be some way for me to run IE7 and IE6 etc on the same PC and run them at the same time?

  13. I do applaud all that is being done towards better standards support in IE7.  Thank You.  I also thank IE of versions past for the part they played in getting us where we are today.

    I hope IE7 continues to improve, so that it at least catches up.  Right now there is still a lot that needs to be addressed.  It would be a real shame if it still ended up being a frustration to web developers after all the wait.

    Cheers.

  14. Sam Anz says:

    Yeah, like Klaus said, we’d reallllly appreciate some stand-alone support…

  15. Chris says:

    I’m not the biggest MS fan by all means, though one has to remember that even if MS produces a better IE, we as web developers still have to wait for all users, which for IE is still the vast majority to upgrade their BROWSERS!!!

    Basically MS IE Team keep working on improving IE and web developers, you should already have frameworks in place, XHMTL and CSS and most probably using JS frameworks like protoype and/ or dojo that you’ve extensively tested to build your sites.

    This is the career you’ve chosen, make it work or get out. That’s the short and long. It’s not like things will ever be perfect, what’s gonna happen when certain browsers start implementing CSS3? Same thing again!!!

  16. Well said, Chris.  I feel I should respond to this, though:

    "Somehow, a lot of you seem to equate bitching and moaning with actually accomplishing something.  Sad, really, because it’s the opposite of true."

    While I agree that bitching and moaning are far less helpful than actually getting stuff done, sometimes bitching and moaning are all you have.

    I don’t know how to write Windows software, nor am I a good software tester, so I’m not the person to help make IE better.  I suspect this applies to most in the web design community.  The most valuable thing we can give is feedback, and that’s something I’ve done through the few organized channels that have been set up.

    So until very recently (when communication channels opened between WaSP and the public, and between the IE team and the public), there wasn’t anything to do *except* bitch and moan.  I can’t write code for Gecko or WebKit either, but I can contribute in other ways, and so I do.  Because that way I feel like I have some modicum of control over the path the web is taking.

    Does IE get too much criticism? Depends. When people bitch and moan about Microsoft, they’re not talking about you, or anyone else on the dev team.  They’re talking about those who felt it was wise to put the team on "hiatus" for four years while there was yet work to be done. That’s the part you own up to, even though I doubt it was your decision, and that’s mighty big of you.

    I am satisfied with the progress that has been made in IE7, considering the time constraints, and I feel that Microsoft and WaSP did a good job of prioritizing. I eagerly look forward to the day that IE does not make my job harder — whereas a year ago I was skeptical that day would ever come.

    I have no doubt that the IE team is committed to further improvements to their browser (hint: JavaScript), but I do have doubts that others higher up at Microsoft see the value in releasing further versions on a consistent schedule. That’s the part that the web community can’t control, the part that new hires can’t control, the part that not even *you* are in complete control of.

    Whether those doubts are baseless remains to be seen.  But it seems to be part of *why* we stoop to bitching and moaning. Not an excuse, perhaps, but at least an explanation.

  17. Aurynn says:

    Well, at least we get to look forwards to new and more interesting rendering bugs that IE7 will be creating. Horray.

    I, for one, just adore endlessly banging my head on the monitor trying to get IE6 to look halfway decent.

    Oh, and now IE7 takes over the system when we install it?

    Sigh..

    Here’s hoping OSX 10.5 comes with a virtualizer configured well enough to run IE6 and IE7 in parallel.

  18. Dan Milward says:

    I like what Tyson said, I did not find it offensive, for me it came across as though Tyson was merely saying "come on prove it" and as with most things in life the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

    Chris; If you are still reading this post and have any pull please say you’ll do your best… no wait… please sneak something in that means we can definitely have IE6 & IE7 run on the same computer, Klaus is right. I’m sick of having old PC’s lying around just for freaking testing on. Just think you’ll be doing something good for the environment as well, we will be able to start recycling them 😀

    This has been a nice read…. oh yeah, one more thing, I love the anti aliased fonts in V7, you can give somebody a big hug from me for that one (she better be cute!). I hope firefox do it at some stage…

  19. Thanks Chris for this post.  I agree with the person who said they could empathize with you.  I also agree with the person that said some type of roadmap on the "next two versions" would be a good faith gesture to help diffuse (de-fuse?) some of the ire.  

    One question though:  I’ve heard the line about Internet Explorer being an "integrated platform" and that it was "impossible" to have a stand-alone version for multiple installs.  I still don’t get why.  

    So IE dynamically links in 6 (or 26) different DLLs for various purposes.  Why can’t the IE7 version install all the correct versions of DLLs that it needs in its local directory and run with the DLLs there in its own sandbox?  

    Why not create a special version of IE7 for the web developer community such that the build links to local DLLs only that are deployed with the install?  You must be deploying these new DLLs anyway, right?  What would that require – a change in the unique registry ID for each DLL?  This special developer version would not have to be something that the masses get.  

    How much disk space would this take?  The install for Firefox and Opera are something on the order of 5 MB.

  20. Tyler Smith says:

    I seem to remember a time when we all collectively cursed about Netscape 4.7x and praised Internet Explorer 6 for its relatively consistent rendering and support for CSS. It’s only been within the last two years or so that we’ve been exposed to an improved, mass-market-ready alternative in Firefox and grown weary of the bugs in IE 6.

    There seems to be a lot of pent up anger from the web design community related to Microsoft as a whole, and the stagnation of IE6 development in particular; I for one see IE7 as a net gain in overall support for Web Standards and the Internet as a whole. Having someone this passionate about standards and a solid end-product within Microsoft is a boon, regardless of the past history of IE.

    The way forward is clear: the web browser is back in focus at Microsoft, and it sounds like Chris and company are fastidiously dedicated to its continuing progress. That’s a good thing people.

  21. Guy says:

    Ok so you say you are passionate champion of standards support. Explain this then:

    http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=referer

  22. Jeff says:

    Please just re-brand Firefox with some IE icons, figure out how to get "unsecure ActiveX" and "closed-source ASP" working with it and then you should do as Guy pointed out and walk the talk:

    http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=referer

    How can we take this blog entry seriously?

  23. Jeff says:

    Just for any of you that don’t know… this page FAILED validation horribly:

    RESULT: Failed validation, 137 errors

    Most of the errors are Microsoft proprietary "business case" code.  I strongly suggest people VIEW SOURCE on this page and then decide about Micorsoft’s "business case". Looks like MS Word HTML has been dropped in or something.

    I am sure your shareholders don’t really care about standards, but web developers do.

    Back to the drawing board please.

  24. Rosyna says:

    The biggest issue remains the past and how past actions reflect on the future. IE has been at a complete standstill rendering wise for almost 5 years (it’s unwise to count intentions). Once Microsoft gained complete control of the browser market, the entire IE team was sent elsewhere. Then as soon as other browsers (Firefox) started gaining ground, MS reacted. The timing of this reaction implies MS only reacted when their control was threatened. After all, it makes very good business sense to force people to use your product and deliver an inferior experience if someone is using another vendor’s product with your software.

    There’s no indication whatsoever that MS won’t do the same thing with IE7. Make enough breaking changes and regressions in it (intentional or not) to force new workarounds that break worse in other browsers and people will then all use IE7 to get the "intended experience". This is much like the current situation with IE6.

    And I can’t help but think people are going to grossly misinterpret your statements about IE’s contributions in the past and compare it to a company bragging in 2005 about having the most powerful computer in 1980 but not updating it since 1980. When the world around that computer evolves, that computer just becomes completely unusable for day to day tasks. When something is at a standstill, it isn’t moving. This doesn’t change no matter how fast the object was moving before it stopped.

  25. Tim W. says:

    Couldn’t Microsoft release the new IE7 within the Windows Update procedure? That would be a sure fire way to speed up user adoption (and keep web developers from having to support IE6 for five more years).

  26. PatriotB says:

    Dan: "oh yeah, one more thing, I love the anti aliased fonts in V7, you can give somebody a big hug from me for that one (she better be cute!). I hope firefox do it at some stage…"

    They turned ClearType on by default for within the HTML window.  If you have ClearType turned on at the OS level, you’re already seeing this benefit.  (Interestingly, there have been lots of complaints about this change on the main IE blog.)  And I think it was a guy named Peter who was in charge of the decision, not a "she".

    If ClearType is turned on for the OS, Firefox automatically uses it as well.  The Firefox programmers could easily add a feature to have it always use ClearType; Windows’ text display functions allow the program to turn on ClearType for their own text display.

  27. PatriotB says:

    Grr, I had a response to three peoples’ comments all ready to go, and got the dreaded "Cannot find server" when posting it, so let me try again…

    Guy/Jeff – You are aware that the IE team doesn’t write the blog server software?  In fact, as far as I know, blogs.msdn.com runs on Community Server, which is not even made by Microsoft.

    Ok, I know that "passing the buck" isn’t a good response, but seriously, I’d rather have the IE team working on implementing the browser, not on developing blog software or web sites.  They’re just taking advantage of a tool that is used throughout the MSDN blogs.

    And Jeff, "closed-source ASP" has nothing to do with the browser, it’s all server-side and is browser agnostic.  Also, regarding "MS Word HTML dropped in"–maybe Chris wrote the entry in Word? Maybe there’s a way to publish a blog to Community Server from Word?  I’d rather have Chris write his entry in whatever the most efficient way is for him, so he can get back to work, rather than meticulously coding his blog postings by hand to be 100% compliant.

    Tim – MS hasn’t announced details yet, but you can bet that IE7 will be available on Windows Update.  What isn’t known yet is whether it’ll be in the "critical" or "optional" section.  Will users get it using the "default" click-through that mose WU users use, or will they have to go and look for it?

    Jeff Schiller – Side by side would be great.  But there’s a lot to consider, including a few non-technical things:

    – What about 3rd party apps?  Do they stick with the OS-included version (IE6) or do they automatically use the latest installed version (IE7)?

    – Users need to keep both IE versions patched.  If a security bug comes up that just affects IE6, not 7, the user would still need to patch.  And, when it affects both, patch twice.

    The audience for side-by-side is quite small, and not intended for average users.  It would be nice, but is it worth the cost?  I’m not sure how much developer time it would take to implement and support side-by-side; there are probably more imporant things to do.  If it came down to "support side-by-side" or "support CSS3", the latter had better win.

    And then there is history: Except for IE5, which had some sort of IE4.01 compatibility mode (details of which I don’t remember), every version of IE has always been this way, where it replaces the previous version.

  28. Kai says:

    Hey Chris,

     i can feel your pain about users complaining about everything you do, and if you do what they want, you do it for the wrong reason. Being a software developer myself i’ve been through the same time and again.

    Keep up the work on IE7! I’ve done my share of bitching and moaning about IE6 , but I will admit it is much better than people like to make it look, and IE7 looks like it will be a big improvement on it.

    Just one thing: i completely agree with all the posters above who want a way to run it in parallel to older IEs. You know it will take a long time before IE6 is gone, so it is essential for every web developer to have easy access to IE6 and IE7. And using another computer does not count as easy …

  29. Kai says:

    In reply to PatriotB:

    I agree with most of what you say, except for

    ‘If it came down to "support side-by-side" or "support CSS3", the latter had better win. ‘

    These two are not exclusive issues for me. If I design a site with nice CSS3 (not that i do much design anymore), i will want to see how it looks in IE6. I have to know if it is at least usable there, and create an IE6 specific CSS / change my CSS to work in IE6 if it isn’t. Side-by-side support would make this so much easier i regard it as an essential.

    Of course, web designers are only a small part of the customer base, so business sense probably dictates not to invest too much in this feature. In that case, i can understand the decision to leave out that feature. Doesn’t mean i have to like it …

    -Kai

  30. Dave Scriven says:

    Take a walk over to flickr and validate the home page? Shall we stop using that because it *has* to be a pile of rubbish. Surely? It doesn’t validate so it’s content and functionality should just be dismissed. Numpties.

    I wish you had posted this a long time ago. The IE team has had to put up with all this s&@t for so long. The last thing a developer needs is all that, especially when nothing could have done anything about it.

    Good work on IE Chris (and team). It’s my default browser now (who would have ever thought that? ;)) Yeah there are issues but I’m willing to put up with the small things for now.

  31. Matt says:

    > "I translate this as “Microsoft is just supporting standards because that’s what people want.  They’re not actually supporting standards.”   HUH?!?!?!?!?!?!?"

    I’d translate it as "Microsoft are supporting standards because they want people to use IE rather than anything else.  They’re not supporting standards for the sake of standards and interoperability", which makes perfect sense and is a fair reflection of previous behaviour.

    > "Well, duh – of course I’d PREFER you use Microsoft software (and services) rather than our competitors’ software or services.  I’m a Microsoft shareholder."

    Of course, this is where the culture of Microsoft shows it’s true colours in caring only for it’s margin and bottom line, and not for it’s customers.

    Perhaps I’m of a different breed, but if a client comes to me looking for a solution and that solution is best served by some other provider, product or service, then I’m happy (and willing) to point them in that direction.  No, this particular requirement won’t pay the bills at the end of the day, but I’ll feel better for it, and (I hope) it gives the customer a feeling of being listened to, rather than sold at.

    I’ve done exactly this a number of times, and have had every single customer come back to me with something that I believed would be best served by us, and they’ve left happy and I’ve been paid.  Can MS say the same?  How many times have I heard "I wish we could get rid of Exchange/Office/IE/etc., but we’re just too locked in!" from clients?  Too many to just be anomalies.  Of course, this goes for other vendors too, not just Microsoft.

    Microsoft’s software is of varying quality (and not all of it high), and anyone who claims that all (or even any) Microsoft software is ‘best of breed’ is either deluded, or selling it.  "Ubiquity" isn’t synonymous with "excellence".

  32. bruce lawson says:

    Good for you Chris. I repeat my <a href="http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/index.php/2006/three-cheers-for-internet-explorer/">offer of  the special evil chicken that I cooked for Molly</a>. I’m glad you’ve got such passion.

    To those  commentators who seems to suggest that Chris’ efforts are worthless because he has validation errors in this post, I say: get a sense of perspective.

    As a WaSP task forcer, of course I believe standards are vital to the future of the Web. But are the validation errors in this post really more important than Chris’ work on I.E.? Of course not. Constructive criticism is always useful. Reductive sniping is never useful.

  33. Thomas Tallyce says:

    > When bugs are found in IE 7, how soon can we expect them to be fixed and a patch disseminated to current IE 7 users? Weeks? Never?

    Chris – it would be interesting to hear whether patches to swap up new versions of MSHTML.dll is feasible. In other words, is there really much stuff relating to the standards side of things that doesn’t go in this DLL?

    Presumably the API which the rest of IE and other apps use to call it is stable, such that swapping this out ought to be possible, thus upgrading the rendering side to improve compliance without affecting other aspects.

    @ Tyson

    > However, realize that IE 5 and 6 burned a *lot* of bridges to the web development community that’s going to take a whole lot more than a bug-fix release to mend.

    I think that’s a little unfair. At the time, IE5 and, to a lesser extent IE6, were trailblazing in terms of standards. IE5 implemented a huge pile of stuff that all of us now rely on heavily but at the time there was little external pressure to see implemented – yet it happened. What bridges have been burned relate to stagnation after IE6, and Chris’ post addresses that question.

    > why Firefox has gained such a foothold against IE – it’s much more nimble than MS and can issue bug fixes within a matter of weeks.

    Again, I think is a little unfair.

    As I understand it, what we think of as IE is basically a GUI wrapper to the rendering (and other components). Much other software uses that rendering component through its API presumably. Microsoft has a *much* bigger testing matrix because of this – whereas Firefox’s engine isn’t being used outside it to any great extent. That’s not an excuse – it’s just a fact that can’t be ignored.

    That said, I’m far from convinced that upgrading the rendering component to support CSS2/3 etc and fix layout bugs would definitely affect such applications. Presumably the API has to be stable, so the component itself ought to be reasonably isolated in terms of not affecting external behaviour by other calling apps. Effectively, then, CSS that works in the IE GUI shell I guess ought to mean that other apps shouldn’t see stuff breaking.

  34. Nathan Rutman says:

    Chris,

    Good post, man.  Keep speaking/spreading/implementing that message.

    The problem is that you have to battle backlash from the past 5 years or so.  I think you’d agree that in those years MS kinda screwed over the web community (otherwise, you and Bill, and everyone else wouldn’t be apologizing).  And coming from a user perspective, history has taught us that apologies are cheap in a land where virtually anyone will say virtually anything to get public support (take a look at everything from politics to mass-marketing).  So to us, it can feel like we’re the fly that finally got he horse to shake it’s tail.  The horse doesn’t really want to shake its tail, but it’s tired of getting bitten.  In order words, it can feel like Microsoft is "putting up" with standards instead of really embracing them.

    Of course the positive spin on the situation is that since relatively few people seriously expect Microsoft to be "all about" doing IE the right way, you are being presented with a golden opportunity to hit a home run.  You can release browser software over the next few years that shuts up the adversaries and regains some prestige to the Microsoft name (which it could use these days).  Congratulations, you’re the underdog.  "Wow" us!

    -Nate

  35. Jenn says:

    As a web dev, my only main beef with IE has been the stoppage of updates to IE6, which I think is what you’re referring to by "mea culpa." Obviously web standards are still in a state of change and flux, but IE has been stagnant. I just hope you guys can catch up eventually, since you’re so far behind now that you have to prioritize-out support for some pretty major things. Talk about sleeping on the job…

  36. Anthony says:

    PatriotB, you said, "Guy/Jeff – You are aware that the IE team doesn’t write the blog server software?  In fact, as far as I know, blogs.msdn.com runs on Community Server, which is not even made by Microsoft."

    But since community server is written in asp.net 1.1 and it uses ids that start with _ [underscores], which are not validating, that is a problem.  It may not be IE/Chris’ problem but it is a microsoft problem.

    And I agree with what you said that, "…I’d rather have the IE team working on implementing the browser, not on developing blog software or web sites.  They’re just taking advantage of a tool that is used throughout the MSDN blogs…"

    But again how can Microsoft talk about being pro web standards when their own development language asp.net has problems validating by default?

    That being said I know standards aren’t the end-all-be-all.

  37. Guy says:

    Oh please.

    First of all I’m sure the IE team isn’t responsible for blogs.msdn.com.

    The point is if you are going to talk-the-talk by claiming to have "ten years of experience in championing standards" and being "passionate" about standards then you need to walk-the-walk. Publishing your own valid markup is a very, very easy step in this direction. Millions of bloggers do it everyday. Bloggers who don’t even claim to be championing standards.

    Can you imagine reading the blog of anyone else making these lofty claims only to discover their *personal* web log is a hideous mess of mangled markup? You’d laugh in their face.

    It’s one thing MS talking about commitment to standards but at the end of the day it’s the result that counts. Based on total track-record my money is on them missing the mark again.

  38. Keri Henare says:

    People are always going to hate Microsoft.  Not because they have a reason to, but because they want to.  Some people need a ‘big bad’ to blame all their problems on, for the computer minded that often seems to be Microsoft.

    That said, Steve Balmer really doesn’t help Microsoft’s image.   So I can name one person who’s a serious issue at Microsoft.  But everyone else that I know of and everyone that I’ve met from Microsoft have been really nice people.

    On the more specific topic of web-standards.  I don’t care if Microsoft are focusing on standards for passion or because someone promised them 100% market share for browsers.  From what we’ve all seen, what needs to be done is getting done.  If I’m able to better support my end users I really don’t care how it’s done.

  39. dan milward says:

    They must not, they can not, auto update to IE7, that would be bad… imagine all the websites around the world that have been built by "sudo" developers (typically .net developers who haven’t bothered testing in anything apart from IE) that would fail to look good / render on not only firefox but IE as well… and it would all happen overnight!

    That was just for fun by the way…. No hard feelings right…

  40. cwilso says:

    Tyson asked "1. When bugs are found in IE 7, how soon can we expect them to be fixed and a patch disseminated to current IE 7 users? Weeks? Never? "

    We will be continuing to work on IE, and planning major releases approximately every year.  To answer a related question from Thomas Tallyce at the same time "[are] patches to swap up new versions of MSHTML.dll is feasible?" – no, we would cause a massive explosion of the test matrix for web developers as well as ourselves if we upgraded the rendering engine continuously.

    Tyson also asked "2. Will IE 7.x versions improve upon standards compliance and expand support for CSS 2 and 3? (i.e. is this in the roadmap?)"

    Yes.  Period.

    Klaus, et al – we’ve heard the request for running IE6 on the same machine as IE7.  We’re looking in to a solution here, but it is technically difficult if not impossible to have all of multiple versions of IE running without virtualizing the hardware (which is what VirtualPC does).  I’m confident we’ll come up with something that makes this situation better for web developers.

    Several people bitched and moaned that my blog can’t be taken seriously until it passes  http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=referer with no errors.  As PatriotB said… I just use the MSDN blogs software.  I’d rather spend my time working on the browser.  Sorry, I probably copied and pasted between the text box and word or email, which apparently inserted some mso- stuff.  Bummer.  I don’t care.  It works in every browser I’ve heard of.  Sorry.  If that means you can’t take me seriously, then please take my blog out of your feedlist.

    Tim W. asked "Couldn’t Microsoft release the new IE7 within the Windows Update procedure?"   PatriotB also drilled in on the key issue here – whether it’s critical or optional.  Sorry, I don’t have more detail there yet.  It will certainly be in WU.

    Matt said: "Microsoft are supporting standards because they want people to use IE rather than anything else.  They’re not supporting standards for the sake of standards and interoperability."  Fine.  I like standards and interoperability.  I also like people using IE.  If that makes me evil, well, paint some horns on my picture.

    Matt also said " (Well, duh – of course I’d PREFER you use Microsoft software (and services) rather than our competitors’ software or services.  I’m a Microsoft shareholder.)  Of course, this is where the culture of Microsoft shows it’s true colours in caring only for it’s margin and bottom line, and not for it’s customers."

    Don’t be a schmuck.  As I clearly stated, I think we need to have business-supported reasons for implementing standards, or we are being irresponsible to our shareholders.  From a pragmatic perspective, I also want my company to be successful.  Or perhaps you didn’t continue reading my post after that line.  At any rate, I don’t know where you think that equates in to not caring for our customers – in fact, the only way I see to improve our bottom line is making our customers happy.

    Matt also said "Microsoft’s software is of varying quality (and not all of it high), and anyone who claims that all (or even any) Microsoft software is ‘best of breed’ is either deluded, or selling it."  Sorry, I was with you until you said "(or even any)".

    Bruce Lawson – thanks for the (reiterated) offer.  I’ll definitely take you up the next time I’m in Birmingham.

  41. Tyson says:

    I said: "1. When bugs are found in IE 7, how soon can we expect them to be fixed and a patch disseminated to current IE 7 users?"

    Cwilso said "We will be continuing to work on IE, and planning major releases approximately every year."

    I said "2. Will IE 7.x versions improve upon standards compliance and expand support for CSS 2 and 3?"

    Cwilso said: "Yes.  Period."

    Awesome – thanks for the straight answers. I look forward to watching IE 6 dwindle and IE 7 take it’s place. (Or, err, Firefox take IE 6’s place 🙂

    Best of luck in the coming transitions and dev cycles.

  42. Unfortunately, you can’t please alll of the people all of the time and as the biggest Gorilla on the block, Microsoft will always be the biggest target.  At this point I’d like to point out that I use a Mac and really don’t like Windows so I’m definitely not biased in an MS – direction.  I think a lot of the abuse (and some of it is abusive) is borne of years of frustration at having to deal with IE6’s failings and the way its held back web development – it really does suck.  That said, lets not throw the baby out with the bath-water.

    The fact is, ANY improvement over IE6 is a good thing and from what I see, there is a huge improvement in IE7.  Sure, there’s some things which need improvement but I’m sure that will be an ongoing thing and by the sound of the post, Chris and his team are committed to that.

    The detractors should also remember that with the pace of change on the web, full compliance with web standards is a moving target.  We should all take a leaf out of WASP’s book and get behind the IE7 team.  After all, you catch more flies with honey.  Lest we spend the next 10 years hacking and working around the stuff that doesn’t get fixed.

    There’s an opportunity in IE7 for MS to lead again but it won’t happen without advice and support from the people who use it.

  43. Sheesh, Chris,

    I had no idea so many people read your damn blog. Guess I’ll have to take back all the stuff I said in your performance review about you being irrelevant to anyone outside of WaSP…

    🙂

  44. cwilso says:

    Yeah, Tony, but the part about not playing well with others can apparently stay in…

    -C

  45. Pete says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m the "Pete" you refer to in your post.

    Please understand that my comment at Vitamin was not meant to be an attack on the work that you and many others are doing at Microsoft. It was rather meant to be an effort to offer an alternative perspective to those that were saying MS should change immediately and were unwilling to do so. My intention was to try and show that a business such as Microsoft could not change overnight, and nor should they. Microsoft has, whatever people say, done massive service to the world of personal computing. Sure, there are people, myself included, that don’t like everything they do but there are many more that find Microsoft products invaluable.

    When reading back I will admit that it doesn’t come across in quite the way I had intended though. Particularly the following:

    "Now, where is the sense in them suddenly changing tack and creating software that is the same as everyone else… Where has their potential for innovation (within their own framework) gone?"

    That was meant to be a statement in support of MS! I was trying to say that Microsoft’s ability to innovate relies somewhat on the nature of their business model, i.e. the wish to keep things "in house" as it were. If MS were to suddenly switch to using another engine (as was suggested by another comment in thread) then they may well be kneecapping themselves. They would be throwing out a great number of features that I am sure many users find, well, useful.

    MS will, one day, build a standards compliant browser but I think anyone would be foolish to believe it can happen overnight. We (as web professionals) must be patient and happy that at least steps are being taken in the "right" direction. It’s rare that I find an issue with IE that is oh so hard to get around with a bit of thought. IE’s CSS support is just not the unsurmountable problem that some seem to think it is.

    Apologies if you were irked by my post. Keep up the good work.

  46. Ryan says:

    <em>"rather than just sniping at them (which, by the way, is pretty effectively ignored)."</em>

    You’re right it is, now what were you saying again?

  47. derevaun says:

    Nice reading, but at the end of the page I don’t care about what Microsoft did for how long, or what Chris hopes will improve now. I just care about how long it will be before IE/Win browsers don’t impede the design process.

    That’s still too long, and the web is still likely to change faster than a company the size of Microsoft can.

  48. Isofarro says:

    Chris, thanks for the awesome job you are doing on Internet Explorer 7. The betas are looking very promising. Although I’m probably not going to be switching from Firefox, its great to hear that my job as a web developer is going to be a bit easier now that there is a better standards compliant version of IE available.

    Since you are at @media 2006 next month, allow me to buy you a beverage of your choice one evening.

  49. danmilward says:

    Chris; you get more free drink offers then a sexy broad down vivian street (that’s our dodgy street in downtown wellington, new zealand). I don’t drink so if you’re ever down this part of the world I wont be buying you a beer but I’d happily take you out for lunch… but because I’m saving we’d have to do it dutch 😉

    As a business owner, I hate having to pay my dearly beloved coders to do essentially the same thing twice. So any improvements to make IE7 more standards compliant are welcome ones. I couldn’t care a less if Microsoft loose the 8 ball again as long, they are the only ones who will loose any face. As long as they release patches and fixes more regularly this time round and keep it complaint I wont loose any sleep.

    I will use whatever is better at the end of the day. Better = whatever stops the most popups/ads/pron/virus/has best tabs/etc…

    Oh god I better do some work!!!!

  50. Aurynn Shaw says:

    Just reading this over again, and thinking, why on Earth are you guys wasting your time by trying to bring MSHTML back up to spec?

    Just use Gecko. Or KHTML. You would instantly make every single web developer here bitching at you deliriously happy. I mean, FINALLY, a browser from MS that doesn’t bite. It will be glorious.

    Why? Why can’t you do this? Why are we going to have to keep suffering with "Write site in real browser, shoehorn back into IE"?

  51. Rob says:

    Chris,

    You talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.  If you could fix it, you would, but you don’t.

    IE is a cancer on the web and should be eradicated.

  52. Antonio says:

    Thanks for this post. It is very interesting to know your POV. And I agree it’s pointless to rant about what could have been done, and that it’s much better to focus on what Microsoft can do from now on.

    The other side of the coin is: Why do I have in my desktop two browsers that do things with CSS *today* that IE7 won’t do when it ships out, a few months down the road yet? I’m not talking about utopic standards or compliance tests, but about current technology.

    What pledge am I looking for, exactly? How about a browser that do *at least* what other modern browsers can do? Not more, but certainly not less.

  53. I have quite many times been an IE "basher" here and there. But this what I believe to be an intimate post does make feel a bit ashamed 🙂

    Now: IE7 or IE6 standalone is what people need. It is too cruel to ask small developers to constitute a second computer just to check out IE6 and IE7.

    And I am still saddened by the lack of ::after ::before and generated content. :

    I hope updates to IE7 will be frequent, and CSS related fixes could be integrated into security patches and so on. Cheers..

  54. Sadu says:

    Sure, perhaps we are being a little picky about the validation issue, but here’s the thing….

    You say "It works in every browser I’ve heard of. "

    No offence, but this blog has little to no design flair. And that’s totally fine, we are here for the content, not pretty pictures.

    Now, put yourself in the shoes of the developers out there and try and come up with something that is visually appealing, not too slow to download, usable and accessible, standards compliant, and works across all major browsers and you might start to have some idea of what we are all going on about.

    When we develop sites for the real world and can’t be bothered making it work in IE, we can’t just say to the client "bummer I don’t care". We have to spend time out of our budget to make it work.

    I would certainly feel better if you took the 20 mins required to install WordPress, and everyone here would shut up about the site not validating 🙂

    I understand the team is bending over backwards to fix IE. I appreciate XMLHTTPRequest, thank you MS.

    But currently it sounds like you are overworked, underpaid, having to take a lot of crap from annoyed developers from something that’s not your fault and even after all this it sounds like IE7 isn’t going to be the holy grail of standards support.

    So I agree with the above poster, if your resources are limited because the shareholders say so, just use Gecko and spend your time adding new features and innovations instead of thanklessly fixing the mistakes of the past.

  55. Pat Kohler says:

    I have not read through the comments. So, if this is a repeat of something about it is my apologies.

    Something that may be worth noting for the shareholders is that I have read, and personally practice, a routine that I develop for Firefox first, Opera second, and then I fix everything in Internet Explorer.

    That is something to consider.

  56. There’s a great post that I missed last week from Chris Wilson (my boss) discussing the engagement of…

  57. There has been a number of interesting threads going on around this subject, particularly as it concerns…

  58. David Conrad says:

    Chris, I was a Microsoft-basher who has been mostly won back by the great things Anders is doing with C#, C# Express, VS 2005, F# and IronPython, C-Omega, LINQ, SQL Server 2005 and Express, and, yes, IE7. Oh, and Raymond Chen’s blog, the IE blog, and a lot of other MS bloggers. It’s all really impressive stuff. I love the transparent PNG support, the CSS fixes, and the native XMLHttpRequest object. I think you guys made the right decision on the * html hack.

    But I’m a Firefox user, and I can’t imagine switching back any time soon. IE5 and IE6 really were innovative for their time. It took years of benign neglect for MS to alienate the web community. Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day. You want to convince us you won’t let IE die on the vine again, take your time. Convince us next year. And the year after that. You want our trust? Earn it.

    We do have MS to thank for AJAX, though. XMLHttpRequest is the greatest thing to happen to the web in a long time, and what the IE team accomplished with — oh, wait, that was the Outlook Web Access team that invented that. Never mind.

  59. Jon Galloway says:

    Whew! There’s a lot of love in this comment div…

    Hey, you made a tiny offhand snipe at the data:url. I understand it’s lower priority than some of the issues you folks have been working on for IE7, but I’m wondering if you’ve got more to say there. You know, if just a little more happened to "slip out". 😉

    I can see the data:url becoming a lot more useful now that the world’s noticed the XMLHttpRequest.

    Also, that roadmap thing is a biggie. I talked to Dave Massey at Mix06 and he explained to me that a roadmap is a touchy thing when it comes from Microsoft since companies will stake their future on it. Is there a way to release a more "off the record" sort of roadmap? You know, like those Word doc’s with the beautiful "DRAFT" watermark?

  60. tshand says:

    I read with interest you post Chris. I applaud your passion, and fighting words. Sure your obviously sick of the endless barrage of MS bashing coming your way for not keeping up with the play. If what you say is true then I look forward to  a development environment where I dont have to spend 50% extra time (and time is money isn’t it, you can tell your shareholders), fixing non-standard irregularities

    I agree that Microsofts biggest mistake was not to provide non-security updates for so long. A part of me still does wonder that if Firefox and other more compliant browsers had not surpassed Microsoft on this front, then would MS be investing in a redevelopment of IE now??. Surely your shareholders would see that as a waste of resources and money. I find it postive that Microsoft is now bending to public pressure (from the development community anyway).

    I can say categorically that if IE7 does not equal or surpass Firefox etc in ease of use for development, then I will no longer be developing for the platform and I hope other developers follow the same path. In a perfect world, the development community and not the end user will dictate the popularity of the browser. A shiny new interface (which in the ie Beta ((and i understand BETA)) is clunky and confusing in my opinion)) will cause user increase, but if websites look terrible in it, then the death of the platform will result.

    So developers and users have thrown down the gauntlet Chris, you sound passionate about making it through in one piece, only time will tell.

    As a final note I had to laugh when you said "It works in every browser I’ve heard of. ". This is a cop out.

    Followed by….

    "Bummer.  I don’t care."

    Preceed by…..

    "Yes, I will continue to improve standards support and compliance in IE, and make the web better.  That’s my job, my charter, my vision, and my passion.  The day it isn’t, I’ll quit."

    The writing may be on the wall on that one Chris. Granted you didn’t write the blog software, but every little thing helps

    It only works because some poor sod has had to MAKE it work. Most I know know not to copy anything from MS word into and sort of web platform, i suggest you do the same. Ive had to waste "precious" bandwidth downloading all the extra stuff. Maybe MS could pay for my internet bill!!!!. Instead of offering you a beer, Ill be sending a bill for the thousands of dollars in extra development time. Ill then buy myself a beer. I deserve it. You are yet to earn one. IF IE7 is worth it, then and only then a drink is on offer.

    I better get back to "fixing" my code.

  61. Ryan Parman says:

    Chris, although not an IE fan, I must say that I respect the stance you’re taking.  Yes, nearly the entire web standards community hates IE5/6, but IE7 looks to be better about some of the more annoying issues.

    To Quote:

    "Yes, I have the power to enact change.  Yes, I will continue to improve standards support and compliance in IE, and make the web better.  That’s my job, my charter, my vision, and my passion.  The day it isn’t, I’ll quit.  The day the development of the standards-based platform in IE goes on a back burner again, I’ll quit.  My management up to and including Bill Gates has said we are back in the saddle with IE, so I have a job to get back to."

    As long as this continues to be your mantra for IE, then you have my support.  Pushing forward is the only thing that can be done at this point, and I applaud your desire to do that for the IE platform.  Good luck.

    And for all of us who need multiple IE’s, I’ve been using a fully-installed IE7 Beta 2, with the IE6 Eolas standalone (from Microsoft) successfully for a little while now, and it seems to work well.

    http://browsers.evolt.org/download.php?/ie/32bit/standalone/ie6eolas_nt.zip

  62. Gill says:

    I’m delighted that MS are making the effort to sort out IE. It’s belated but at least it’s on the way. Yes, I’m one of the MS moaners, not just because of the irritating bugs in the browser but also because of the idiot who decided to put a "save as html" button into all the Office products. Stripping out MS proprietary code when a client has got their site in a right pig’s ear is pretty much the bane of my existence.

    I’m wondering how much easier it would be to sort out IE if the team weren’t having to deal with compliance as well as the horrendous Office markup.

    I have come on here mainly to plead for the ability to be able to test in both IE6 and IE7. It’s vital. I have spare machines but why the heck should I have to? If it’s not possible to run them in tandem can MS at least set up some sort of online sandbox?

  63. Owen says:

    Yay standards!

    I know that myself and a lot of my friends are greatly looking forward to IE7’s release, and hoping that its adoption is widespread. Being able to use position:fixed, :hover, etc. will be a huge boon.

    I greatly look forward to continuing improvements in future releases, and it sounds like you and your team are up to the task.

  64. Alex Taylor says:

    Wow, the "web developing community" appears to be full of cynics! There are also an awful lot of people who find themselves incapable of reading a complete post.

    Some people seem to be under the impressions (despite your statements otherwise) that you *can* bend time and space to get things done spouting trivial things like the fact that the MSDN blogs don’t validate!

    I’m sure if they weren’t being so narrow minded they’d rather such-and-such rendering bug was obliterated instead of the code for the blog software you use fitting perfectly with the W3C specifications. No-brainer I thought!

    Big thanks to you guys for getting stuck in to a project which was always going to end up with people throwing eggs and tomatoes at you.

    As far as I can see, once IE7 goes Final, there is a real chance at getting users to upgrade, the naive ones via Windows Update and the sticklers who wouldn’t switch to a non-Microsoft browser can now have the weight pushed onto them to upgrade to the latest offering.

    As always this is a goal and by no means going to happen overnight, but hopefully the switch from IE5/6 to IE7 will be able to have more momentum than some other upgrade cycles and as such, web developers can start shelfing IE5 support sooner rather than later.

  65. Sadu says:

    Alex – MS doesn’t have to bend time to get it done. They just need to put more resource and priority into getting it done.

    Would another 100 developers help make it happen quicker? Yeah, I think so. Perhaps if development had been continuous, then there wouldn’t be so much to catch up on.

    Bummer, I don’t care.

    If IE7 is a good product, then the web development community will support it.  If it’s supported after release, and valid concerns are taken on board, then the web development  community will support it.

    IE just doesn’t have the credibility to win over web developers at the moment, based on promises. If IE7 is just going to be a Windows ME style makeover of IE6 then it’s not going to win over any respect from this direction.

  66. Tim Eager says:

    Chris, keep up the good work!  I’m using IE7 now, and it works beautifully [esp. for a beta].  It’s sad that so few posters seem to recognize basic facts of economic life: Whether it employs 1 person or 100,000 people, every company prioritizes its work, because not everything can be done at once (economists call it the allocation of scarce resources).

    From a more programmer-oriented perspective, nearly every poster articulated a littany of issues that they want fixed before you release IE7, while in the same breath they lambasted MS for waiting so long to release a new version!  Would they rather deal with ALL of the IE6 issues for another 3 years so you can fix everything?  

    While I agree MS dropped the baton by not updating IE6, we’re about 4 laps into a 10 lap race, an IE might have gone from leading by over half a lap to trailing by a quarter.  The race is far from over, and it certainly isn’t a sprint.

    My biggest IE7 complaint so far actually points back at the general web dev population:  Please, PLEASE, PLEASE(!!!), for the love of god, stop coding your latest-version pages with "equals" tests (as in "browser version = ie6sp1") and start using "greater than or equal to"!!!  For you to complain about all the hacks forced on you by IE, but then cripple yourself in this way is simply maddening.  It’s insane that I’ve had to registry-hack my IE7 to look like IE6 to view simple pages that include a version test.  I realize many of you did it right, but I’ve visited too many large companies’ web sites to believe that it is only a smattering of devs.

    I have a more fundamental disagreement with the people who, in a fetish-like manner, view web standards as an end unto themselves.  Are they important?  Absolutely.  Could the web survive without them if they disappeared entirely?  Sure.  And here’s why I’m not nuts:

    Every technology has some potential critical mass of adoption that will allow it to survive.  Various technologies duke it out all the time, and there are always winners and losers (sometimes both at the same time).  Remember the cliche of VHS vs. Beta?  VHS was always assumed to be the unrivaled winner in the format wars, but how many professionals use (or ever used) VHS in any significant level?  My points are twofold:

    1) Markets will sort out winners or losers (and almost every opportunity for choice is a market on some level – it doesn’t have to involve money).  They aren’t as efficient as standards committees from a time perspective, but markets are infinitely more efficient at finding the technologies that people actually want to use.  

    2) Different standards can work for different uses, not all of which will be recognised by a global committee.  Furthermore, blind adherence to standards precludes a great deal of innovation.  If today’s standards are good enough, why bother to do anything new?

    Ultimately, people vote by their actions, and, as a rule, people are damn lazy.  Many (if not most) people who call themselves Web devs will take the easy way out if given a chance (some will consider what is easier over the long vs. short term, but many won’t).  And the web, in its current form, will never truly be a standards-based environment.

    What does that mean?  If coding to a standard will take more time than coding something non-compliant (but still functional in today’s browsers), the shorter way wins.  Browsers can’t force devs to follow standards, because it will break too many existing web pages, and not all devs will follow the standards unless they have no choice.

    Every decision-making entity (person, organization, corporation) makes decisions based on their own self-interest.  For Microsoft, this means enhancing shareholder value (because the shareholders own the company, and therefore ARE the company, for better or worse).  For most posters on this blog, they bitch about things they can’t control because they might ultimately benefit.  For 90% of web users, they choose the browser that meets their needs with a minimum of effort (also why linux will probably never overtake Windows, but that’s a whole other topic).

    In short, ask for what you want, but don’t get pissed if MS looks out for their own interests, not yours.

    Chris, if you’re still reading this, I’m curious: did anyone take you up on the job offer?  Just thinking about the "all talk" claims from earlier… 🙂

  67. cwilso says:

    @Tim Eager – no, no one did take me up on my offer.  As ever – talk is cheap.  🙂

  68. rape videos says:

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  69. For the record, I’ve uninstalled IE 7.0b for now. I’ve used IE as my main browser for the past 10 years mostly, except for a couple brief stints of usually around 6-8 months of really liking Netscape along the way. For the past year+ however I’ve found FireFox to be a much more productive environment than IE, and frankly I’m addicted to the tabs, and a couple of the extensions.

    I’d like to qualify my opinion/statements a bit by introducing a small amount of background information. I’ve been involved in the hi-tech industry for over 15 years. During the years of 1997-2002 I owned and operated a consulting company and was at that time an MCSP (personally held MCSD and MCP/I certifications). I’ve spent an enormous amount of my professional life promoting and evangelizing various MS Server platforms, development environments, technologies and other products. What I’m getting at is that I’m not an "anti-MS tree-hugger".

    I do also have an equal or greater amount of experience and expertise in alternative environments and technologies such as "LAMP" etc.

    During the 1996-7 period of time I was heavily involved with a number of the largest commercial web hosting companies of the day. At that time I pushed hard for the companies I was working with to be amongst the first to deploy and offer IIS based virtual hosting.

    I’ve worked closely with the highest levels of management at a number of the largest and most recognized enterprise clients in the country, including Microsoft, on a large number of different projects. These activities included things based on the MS platforms as well as Unix. I have launched and been involved with a number of successful startup situations where we utilized both MS platforms and Unix or LAMP based environments.

    What’s my point ?

    Since 2001/02 I’ve shifted my entire focus to standards based development and practices. For what it’s worth, I believe it is a tremendous step in the right direction for MS to embrace completely the concept of a "standards compliant" IE. It also appears that through the development and delivery of products like the "Expression Web Design" platform, at least the concept of standards "capable" is finally hitting home in Redmond.

    I have personally all but abandoned most of my MS related consulting activities, in favor of supporting and contributing to various open source communities, and promoting those that adhere to and embrace standards with all clients.

    I don’t have an "anti" MS agenda, however I do feel somewhat strongly that in general, the continual process of jettisoning platform after platform, as opposed to sticking with something and really improving on it and supporting it for the long term has been a big let down to many individuals and businesses who have invested large amounts of time and energy, as well as their trust in various MS marketing statements.

    In general (in other words, not specific to MS) I’m quite familiar with the difference between what the marketing folks have to say and the product that is delivered eventually. Unfortunately, as many of us are aware, there is a large disparity between the two.

    In reading over all of the previous posts above, folks can quote from "Crossing the Chasm" and make claims like "standards don’t matter" all they want. The fact is that any serious developer with any real amount of experience in this industry should recognize the fact that the ability to develop something that works cleanly one time and is openly accessible is sound business practice and makes better financial sense than developing around browser quirks.

    It’s clear that there are a fair number of folks who are really just either being unrealistic in terms of what’s practical for a commercial software vendor to implement and what’s not, or they simply fail to recognize the fact that as a commercial software vendor,  the core value to shareholders lies in the often proprietary intellectual property they develop. So to expect or demand that a "free" product such as IE meet requirements based on the opinions of folks who often are completely inexperienced (no matter how many css books they’ve written) in real world enterprise IT operations or product development doesn’t make any business sense at all.

    Web and Web based application developers need to step up to the plate and take some level of responsibility for their work product. Put in the small amount of extra effort required to develop something that’s both standards compliant and cross browser compatible instead of worrying about what and how commercial vendors develop their products. Heck, if it’s that important to you, go start up your own "completely standards compliant" open source browser project and see how easy it is to actually accomplish.

    The point is, it’s pretty popular to pick on a particular product or vendor (or browser in this case), however I find it ironic that often the same folks doing all the complaining seem to almost refuse to put any effort in to actually solve the problem, when it comes to their actual work product.

    I’d also like to say that at this point in time, it’s pretty short sighted and irresponsible for anyone serious about this business NOT to be focusing on churning out standards compliant, valid, accessible code. Period.

    The potential and possibilities created by rich interactive web based applications which are built around standards instead of proprietary technologies are so compelling, to ignore the concept of standards compliance and valid code will unquestionably leave those folks who choose the proprietary "spaghetti" code approach will be in for a rude (and expensive) awakening.

    This is not a platform or language specific issue. It doesn’t matter if you’re developing Unix based php applications or .NET based C# or VB/ASP based applications. The point is, you as the developer have full control over WHAT you deliver to the browser. It’s your responsibility to your employer or clients to deliver clean, valid, accessible code.

    Personally, I’d rather see a browser that doesn’t "forgive" poor coding much more than "complete" standards compatibility. The larger issues as far as browsers are concerned lie in two key areas. First, in that currently rather than "reject" improperly coded documents they all forgive your coding errors and by doing so contribute to the global error ridden mess. Secondly, the error "forgiveness factor" provides no incentive for developers to change the way they do things or learn anything, rather promoting an environment where poorly written, error laden code and developers can thrive.

  70. A short followup to my prior post. In a recent post on my own site (a month or so ago http://hradil.us/2006/06/22/firefox-or-ie/) I discussed the fact that I dumped IE 7.0b temporarily due to some quirks that were a "blocker" as far as I was concerned at the time.

    I’m happy to report that I’ve installed the latest 7.0b and it’s coming along quite nicely. Many (most that I’ve checked so far) of the quirks which bothered me most have been resolved, and it’s rendering pages as expected, based on the code it receives.

    Thumbs up….chris

  71. Joe says:

    Does IE still ignore mime types and rely on content-disposition headers and first period path extensions for determining the content type?  That one put a real bee in the bonnet.

  72. Erland Flaten says:

    I am happy that the top bosses in MS finaly let some of their talented workers make a desent browser. Thats a shift in attitude that cant be underestimated. Still there is a lot of things to do, so please keep up the good work.

    6 months ago I was explaining to a TV boss about hove I had to spend money in developer hours to fix bugs and whatkind of bugs it was. He was speechles. TV people dont have that kind of problems (Not Yet. wait for HD and on demand..)

    When I order developer hours I want to spend them on businesslogic and not pushing pixels aroud, looking for lost margins, floating images etc.

    Chris, I hope you sucseed so windows in the future will be reliable as a plattform doing things on the web.

    Whish I could help you in some ways. At least I will dowload the beta right now 🙂

    Erland. Lillehammer, Norway.

  73. Mitch 74 says:

    I’m a small-time Web developer, and hand-coder (I don’t use WYSIWYG editors at all); having started learning HTML recently, I decided to try my hand at programming a website supporting the latest W3C standards, such as:

    – XHTML 1.1

    – CSS 2.1

    And of course I tried the results under various browsers As such, I’d like to give some nuances to some of your answers:

    IE5 has been out for QUITE a long time, but the problems I’ll mention date back to it and still haven’t been solved (no, not even in IE7):

    – no XHTML support. At all. While version 1.1 has been ratified in 2002, 1.0 was out in 1999… Worse, while IE includes an XML engine, making use of it (by calling appropriate mimetypes) switches the rendering engine to Quirks mode in IE6/7… It’s been said that XHTML should be natively supported in coming versions, but right now preliminary support could be provided by updating IE’s XML parser, locking said parser’s output in Strict mode and adding application/xhtml+xml to its supported mimetypes.

    – incomplete CSS 2.0 support, we still lack :before and :after pseudoclasses (which are damn useful), image embedding, proper <object> support… check http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/wrongWithIE/ for a nice summary.

    Now, I resent the ‘Firefox engine hasn’t been integrated much outside’: it’s plain wrong. Said engine is called Gecko, has XHTML 1.1 + CSS 2.0 support since 2002, is integrated in Netscape 7+, Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey, Camino, Thunderbird, Gnome web browser, the OpenOffice.org office suite – to name the most prevalent ones. It’s compliance isn’t complete, but quite a lot ahead of IE7’s. I had to point it out. Its code is open, you can at least analyse it to get an idea on how to properly implement several things…

    KHTML/Webcore has lower XHTML support than Gecko’s, but some of its CSS support is better. It also correctly uses the HTTP Header’s mimetype specs correctly. It is part of KDE’s Konqueror web browser and Apple’s Safari. Code is open, too.

    I think the two examples above are the main reason why many don’t see IE7 as such as great stride forward, and not even as a way to catch up: they are freely available, completely open, and one of the biggest software companies in the world seems unable to even learn from two volunteer-supported projects…

    For example, it would be nice if IE reported support for text/html q=1, image/gif, image/jpeg, image/png, text/xml q=0.5 etc. and mentioned application/xhtml+xml q=0, instead of/while reporting ‘*/*’ support… That would remove one of the BIGGEST complaints about IE: browser detection must be done using conditional comments in HTML (or using JS), while other browsers just tell what they can do, and the server provides the ad hoc content…

  74. Jonah Dempcy says:

    Great post! I commend your efforts and although I will never use Internet Explorer (and I feel that IE7 has ripped off better, free, open source alternatives without giving them credit) I am 100% supportive of your stance towards bringing IE up to speed in the world of web standards.

    Thanks for being so candid and open about your opinions. I appreciate your honesty and commend your efforts!

    -Jonah

  75. gamonie says:

    I haven’t gotten much done these days. So it goes. What can I say? I’ve just been letting everything pass me by. Basically not much going on lately, but it’s not important. I’ve basically been doing nothing worth mentioning.

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  77. Webdesign says:

    Chris,

    Good post, man.  Keep speaking/spreading/implementing that message.

    The problem is that you have to battle backlash from the past 5 years or so.  I think you’d agree that in those years MS kinda screwed over the web community (otherwise, you and Bill, and everyone else wouldn’t be apologizing).  And coming from a user perspective, history has taught us that apologies are cheap in a land where virtually anyone will say virtually anything to get public support (take a look at everything from politics to mass-marketing).  So to us, it can feel like we’re the fly that finally got he horse to shake it’s tail.  The horse doesn’t really want to shake its tail, but it’s tired of getting bitten.  In order words, it can feel like Microsoft is "putting up" with standards instead of really embracing them.

    Of course the positive spin on the situation is that since relatively few people seriously expect Microsoft to be "all about" doing IE the right way, you are being presented with a golden opportunity to hit a home run.  You can release browser software over the next few years that shuts up the adversaries and regains some prestige to the Microsoft name (which it could use these days).  Congratulations, you’re the underdog.  "Wow" us!

  78. Webhosting says:

    Chris, I was a Microsoft-basher who has been mostly won back by the great things Anders is doing with C#, C# Express, VS 2005, F# and IronPython, C-Omega, LINQ, SQL Server 2005 and Express, and, yes, IE7. Oh, and Raymond Chen’s blog, the IE blog, and a lot of other MS bloggers. It’s all really impressive stuff. I love the transparent PNG support, the CSS fixes, and the native XMLHttpRequest object. I think you guys made the right decision on the * html hack.

    But I’m a Firefox user, and I can’t imagine switching back any time soon. IE5 and IE6 really were innovative for their time. It took years of benign neglect for MS to alienate the web community. Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day. You want to convince us you won’t let IE die on the vine again, take your time. Convince us next year. And the year after that. You want our trust? Earn it.

    We do have MS to thank for AJAX, though. XMLHttpRequest is the greatest thing to happen to the web in a long time, and what the IE team accomplished with — oh, wait, that was the Outlook Web Access team that invented that. Never mind.

  79. Great post and while I can understand where you’re coming from with the anger and frustration.  It’s been said before but I applaud you for fighting the good fight.  Cheers!

    However.

    In comparison to the many years the entire web community has spent frustrated, pissed off, mad, etc. due to IE’s all encompassing problems out weighs any amount of frustration, anger or pain from the IE 7 development team.  I’m sorry, but the best response you’ll get from us is most likely a weak acknowledgement that doesn’t contain explicatives.

    That will be your recognition.  Take it or leave it, I don’t care and I doubt the rest of the web development community will either.  I refuse to throw you a parade for everything IE has put us through.

  80. Tweak Vista says:

    Well, at least we get to look forwards to new and more interesting rendering bugs that IE7 will be creating. Horray.

    I, for one, just adore endlessly banging my head on the monitor trying to get IE6 to look halfway decent.

    Oh, and now IE7 takes over the system when we install it?

    Sigh..

    Here’s hoping OSX 10.5 comes with a virtualizer configured well enough to run IE6 and IE7 in parallel.

  81. LFERC says:

    Well, at least we get to look forwards to new and more interesting rendering bugs that IE7 will be creating. Horray.

    I, for one, just adore endlessly banging my head on the monitor trying to get IE6 to look halfway decent.

    Oh, and now IE7 takes over the system when we install it?

    Sigh..

    Here’s hoping OSX 10.5 comes with a virtualizer configured well enough to run IE6 and IE7 in parallel.