Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

Since the announcement of the WaSP / Microsoft Corporation Task Force we’ve had two face to face meetings. The first was held in Portland, Oregon at WebVisions ‘05. WaSP members DL Byron and myself met with Microsoft’s liaison to the Task Force, Brian Goldfarb. In this meeting, we brainstormed potential strategies and discussed how WaSP can be of greatest assistance to Microsoft as it makes its products more standards compliant.

The second meeting took place in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday of this week, when I met again with Brian Goldfarb, whose primary role at Microsoft is Product Manager for the Web Tools team. We were joined by Chris Wilson, who readers might recognize from his many years as a developer for IE, and who is now lead Program Manager for the Web Platform in Internet Explorer.

We used our time to discuss specific activities for the WaSP / Microsoft TF in the months to come. Plans include arrangements for WaSP members to evaluate Microsoft product betas and overall strategies. We’ll also work directly with the developer teams to unveil concerns and make recommendations regarding the standards compliance in products including Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, .NET and a range of other Microsoft software and platforms where Web standards matter.

The bottom line? We’re talking, Microsoft is listening.

Not only has Microsoft offered an open door to WaSP’s criticism and ultimate assistance, but individual developers there are expressing a lot of enthusiasm about our relationship. Sitting face to face with Brian and Chris, it’s certainly clear to me that these are colleagues who not only get the importance of standards compliance, but want it badly, too.

What’s also clear is that the realities of software development cycles, company policies and security priorities all will influence the timeline of how standards are implemented and bugs repaired within the Microsoft line of products. That we all have to be patient is simply a reality, and neither faction is looking at this as a short-term stopgap, but rather a long-term commitment to the greater good.

As part of the Task Force strategy a plan to keep the Web design and development community informed at regular intervals of our activities and progress is in place. This means that there will be regular updates from both WaSP and Microsoft about our activities, milestones and successes.

My opinion of the meetings, the motivation on the part of Microsoft at large to be a more open company and the individual warmth, intelligence and interest in improving the circumstances Brian and Chris have demonstrated leaves me absolutely confident in saying that support for web standards is an issue Microsoft is paying attention to very, very seriously.

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