Ian Hickson: ‘Mistakes, Sadness, Regret’

Ian Hickson, lead author of the excellent in-progress HTML 5 spec (and, to keep any potential biases clear, Google employee), is adamantly opposed to IE’s proposed version targeting:

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

Personally, I’m in complete agreement with Hickson. This switch would be harmful to every other rendering engine than IE. There’s a fork, where many new sites are built against cutting edge web standards, and many old sites (often corporate intranets) only work with non-standard IE behavior. Microsoft wants to have it both ways, so that IE can continue to work with new standards-based sites, but can also continue to support non-standard intranet sites with IE lock-in. The only purpose of this proposal is to help maintain IE’s lock-in with existing sites.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008