The Active Network


Web Standards Project Blasts Microsoft's 'Arrogant' Break With Standards WIRE)--April 10, 2000--The Web Standards Project (WaSP) today denounced Internet Explorer 5.5 Windows Edition for abandoning Web standards Microsoft has publicly committed to supporting, and focusing on proprietary technologies which are certain to fragment the already-troubled Web space.

``We are incensed by Microsoft's arrogance, and perplexed by its schizophrenic decision to support standards on one platform while undercutting them on another,'' said Web Standards Project group leader Jeffrey Zeldman.

The group is outraged by Microsoft's decision not to support key W3C standards, notably the DOM Level 1 core and portions of the CSS1 specification, in the market-leading Windows version of its Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft's reversal will make it nearly impossible for Web developers to create documents that adhere to Web standards. At the same time, the proprietary technology that Microsoft is providing may lure some developers deeper into functionality that is supported on only one browser and one operating system - Microsoft's.

``This approach mocks the dream of 'code once, read anywhere' that has driven so much of the Web's success,'' said WaSP Steering Committee member Simon St.Laurent. ``By 'innovating' ahead of the W3C ( in areas like Cascading Style Sheets behaviors while leaving large chunks of standardized processing and styling unsupported, Microsoft risks creating even more complicated browser incompatibilities than already exist.''

``The Web community has waited for more than four years for Microsoft to fulfill their long-standing pledge to fully adhere to W3C-issued Recommendations,'' said WaSP Steering Committee member and CEO of ZOT Group Sally Khudairi. ``The collective patience of both users and developers is running out: why should anyone settle for Web pages that work on only one browser, on one platform and on a limited set of devices?''

The group pointed out that Microsoft itself helped create many of the standards it appears to be abandoning in IE5.5/Windows, and noted with bitter irony that Microsoft's newly released IE5/Macintosh Edition does a masterful job of supporting key Web standards. ``Do they want us to code for the standards-compliant Macintosh version, or the incomplete - but dominant - Windows version?'' Zeldman demanded.

``By casting aside standards, Microsoft is making it more difficult, if not impossible, to create Web pages that would be accessible on a variety of devices and platforms,'' said WaSP steering committee member Dori Smith. ``This hurts a wide variety of Web users, from the executive using a Web-enabled cell phone to a visually impaired senior citizen.''

Added Zeldman: ``Coming on the heels of Netscape's preview release, it's hard not to view this as exactly the kind of 'predatory' behavior the U.S. Justice Department laid at Microsoft's door. If Microsoft, as the dominant player, undercuts Web standards on its prevailing Windows platform, developers will be helplessly spun in Microsoft's direction, killing the dream of a Web that is accessible to everyone.''


  *   *