Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

I’m often hearing people at my place of work talk about doing things to Microsoft’s standards, and am very quick to point out that there is not a ‘Microsoft standard’ as such – there are agreed standards (or ‘recommendations’ to use the correct term) laid down by the W3C to which Microsoft and others are supposed to adhere to to. Supposed to …

The WaSP‘s original aims were to address the poor support by browsers for a raft of standards – such as CSS, HTML, the DOM – and to a large extent this has been successful. We no longer have the Browser Upgrade Campaign (although some companies still insist on using it in anger), and it’s generally agreed that the range of browsers available now offers very good support for the standards. Long gone are the days of the wildly diverging ‘interpretations’ of the standards that were shown by Netscape and Microsoft when version 4s were considered the hot new browsers. But it’s not perfect, and there’s one browser out there that has lagged behind in its support for CSS. Unfortunately that browser is the most prevalent – Internet Explorer.

In the article entitled Developers gripe about IE standards inaction yesterday, Paul Festa writes: “Web developers want to light a fire under Microsoft to get better standards support in the company’s Internet Explorer browser, but they can’t seem to spark a flame.” To many this is not news – it’s the reality of everyday web development, and try as we might it’s very difficult to get a company of this size to pay attention to our calls. Particularly when they have other problems to deal with (and reportedly another 30 patent infringement cases in the pipeline). But then you read this, and your blood starts to boil:

“While it is true that our implementation is not fully, 100 percent W3C-compliant, our development investments are driven by our customer requirements and not necessarily by standards”

So says Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager with the Windows client group. Maybe my work colleagues are correct – there are Microsoft standards, and they are written by its customers! Guys and girls, you helped draft the standards – would it be too much to ask for you to follow them too?

Earlier this year the WaSP asked Microsoft to give some evidence that they were not going to discontinue support for the standalone versions of Internet Explorer – something that they had said was the case. We also re-iterated some of the issues that were most pressing. We signed off by saying that “The WaSP – and the Web – are waiting.” It looks like we are in for a longer wait still.

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