Microsoft has had five years to improve Internet Explorer’s ability to employ web standards for XHTML and CSS and failed. What’s their response to criticism?
An extraordinary use of Microsoft’s famed “sign language” comes to mind. So, let me tell you about my weekend with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. For Windows.
I was working on a major project with a web developer. The web site design had been finalized and we were working on the layout of pages using XHTML and CSS. Web pages these days are usually built using both standards.
XHTML and CSS are “standards” in that there are formal committees who work on the design, structure, functionality of each so that browsers will display web pages pretty much the same way.
Although varied in nature, such “standards” exist everywhere. There’s the TCP/IP standard for sending packets of data across the Internet. There are display standards so graphics and text look pretty much the same on one computer as another.
Most browsers receive the same code from a server, so they need a “standard” to display the web page as it was intended by the developer. Standards are important.
Among web developers, the standard for web page layout and design is usually XHTML and CSS. Working together, they help your browser display a web page as the designer intended.
While a formal standard for XHTML and CSS exists, browsers don’t always render pages exactly the same using the same code. But they’re close. Mostly.
For example, the page you’re viewing will look pretty much the same using Safari or Firefox or OmniWeb or Camino or Opera or iCab on the Mac. On Windows it will look pretty much the same as the Mac if you use Firefox or Opera or Mozilla or other browsers that adhere to both XHTML and CSS standards.
Except Microsoft Windows’ Internet Explorer. Then, all bets are off as to whose “standard” belongs to whom, and how the pages appear.
The project this weekend needed to be XHTML Transitional 1.0 compliant, using CSS 2.0. Frankly, that’s a breeze on a Mac because Safari and Firefox and OmniWeb et al, do a good job making sure the code we develop looks the same in each respective browser.
Since about half the visitors to this particular web site also use Windows, we had to make sure the pages look the same in Windows Internet Explorer. No matter how many times we tried, the pages would look fine in other browsers, crappy in Internet Explorer for Windows.
Why? Because Microsoft refuses to adapt to all the XHTML and CSS standards, five years after they were approved and put into use in other browsers, Mac and Windows.
Except they don’t need an excuse, do they? They’re Microsoft. They ARE the market for web browser interpretation of web pages, right?I read an article recently that version 7.0 of Internet Explorer, due some time next year in Longhorn cum Vista (new Windows) does NOT adhere fully to the standards so necessary for web site development. Why?
The only answer I could come up with is Microsoft’s ability to use a universal sign language employed by the powerful, rich, and arrogant. With 90-percent market share, Microsoft “IS” the standard, right?
They’re the standard in insecure, unreliable, over-priced, bloated software, for sure.
That 90-percent market share sounds impressive until you realize that the versions of Internet Explorer span many versions of Windows, therefore, web pages that may look OK on Internet Explorer 6.x, suck and look crappy on version 5.5.
Some pages on Windows XP Home don’t display the same as on Windows 2000, or Windows 98, or gawd forbid anyone who’s still using it, Windows ME.
It took a whole weekend of work to develop code that would validate according to XHTML and CSS standards and not look crappy on Internet Explorer for Windows.
That meant a number of compromises to the original design, which did not make the owner of the site very happy. Thank you, Bill Gates, for teaching us sign language we can all understand.
Since the standards and roadmap of XHTML and CSS have been well documented, agreed to, and published for nearly five years, Microsoft doesn’t have much of an excuse for not bringing themselves into compliance in the newest version of Internet Explorer.
Except they don’t need an excuse, do they? They’re Microsoft. They ARE the market for web browser interpretation of web pages, right? Perhaps.
It used to be difficult for a computer user to voice an opinion except with purchase decisions. If your computer “box” is crappy, you could always buy one from someone else. Because of Microsoft Windows monopoly position, computer users are faced with limited choices.
No more. Alternatives are growing, are attractive, affordable, more secure, more dependable, adhere better to standards than Microsoft’s products.
I’m mad as h-e-l-l and I’m not going to take it anymore.