The IE meta standards tag – a slightly different take

I know I’m going to get flamed for this, but…

Everybody on p.m.o is ranting hard about Microsoft’s decision to include a third mode for web standards rendering. They’re all calling on Microsoft to Tell The Non-Compliant Web To Take A Hike.

What makes me chuckle is that, in one sense, the p.m.o community is telling Microsoft to act like the monopolist the community hates. The community is telling Microsoft to dictate to the Web (again) how the Web should be, to throw its massive market share around and do something that might break the Web. Bear in mind that massive market share, the ecosystem of the Web, isn’t just about the browsers. It’s also about the portals, sites we visit all the time, like CNN, NBC, MySpace, Wikipedia, etc.

You know what? Someday we’re just going to have to learn not to give a damn what Microsoft does with their browser. Let the evolution of the Web decide what’s best. Let Firefox be Firefox, let Opera be Opera, and if Microsoft doesn’t want to come to the table, fine. Then the W3C might mean something again – or the WHATWG will just replace it. (Just as long as people don’t cheat and make sneaky side agreements to install their browser as the default… oh, wait, ummm…)

On second thought, they’re just feeding authors’ addictions to bad code. I really ranted about that a few weeks ago. Let them (bit)rot. šŸ™‚

Update: A few people seem to think that I want to dictate to Microsoft how they should build their browser. I want to strongly suggest they do certain things (where’s my DOM 2 TreeWalker?), but I am not going to scream bloody murder about it.

Personally, I do think three rendering modes is a bad idea. But then again, I don’t have a website. I’m pretty sure if I did, I’d have to think long and hard about supporting Internet Explorer with more than basic HTML

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. IE’s users are rarely my target audience anyway.

Seriously, people, this blog post is about two words: Lighten up.

7 thoughts on “The IE meta standards tag – a slightly different take”

  1. Contrary to your opinion, Microsoft should *stop* acting like a monopolist. So far, they have encouraged bad HTML throgh IE6 and 7, FrontPage and propietory technology like ActiveX. Microsoft used its huge market share to disregard web standards (though IE6 wasn’t that bad when it was first released). Now, they should tell everybody to respect standards and deliver a browser that supports standards. If MS was really serious about improving things, they could eben produce software that finds and fixes bad pages (or helps fixing by proposing better code).
    The best way to promote good web standards is to reduce the market share of MSIE and get more standards-compliant browsers out there.
    Know a good one?

  2. With great power comes great responsibility.
    Do two wrongs make a right? Perhaps in IEs case they do. To make up for the dictate-then-ignore job Microsoft did with IE6-YearLifetime they should dictate that the industry must move forward. Why? Because they caused the problem and therefore they should fix it. There are that many IE6-YearLifetime sites out there because Microsoft told everyone IE6-YearLifetime was THE road for the web, in that it was the end of the road so developers could use and abuse its proprietary craphouse features and forget about the bigger picture of interoperability or future-proofing with open standards.
    In short, Microsoft presented the web with a single frozen API and the world, with the help of Microsoft’s monopoly practices, accepted it.
    They created the problem by killing off competition and therefore killing off interoperability, they should at least solve it. If that means taking a reputation hit with vendors who have locked into IE6, so be it. I’m sure Microsoft’s reputation and bank balance can take the hit.
    On the flipside I am sure the wider standards compliant internet community would also put their money where their mouths are by volunteering to educate and hold the hands of non-standards developers in order to get them over the IE6 brick wall they have been leaning against for so long.
    To your other point about forgetting Microsoft, I could not agree more. There is one simple way to attract market share and de-prioritise Microsoft’s influence – build software that doesn’t merely mimick IE (Firefox) but blows it out of the water. Flock is a good start but the concept can be taken a lot further. Start innovating again, not iterating IE6-YearLifetime because Microsoft refused to.
    The world of web and browser developers seems to have been wading in the quagmire notion that users will not change their browser. I expect this notion has been generated by a misinterpretation of how Microsoft gained their dominance. Perhaps the IE market dominance was not simply due to users taking what they were given with Windows? Perhaps it wasn’t therefore *just* Microsoft’s Windows-middleware-bundling monopoly that created the IE dominance, but the fact there WAS NOTHING ELSE!?
    How could users refuse IE when Netscape was dead due to a lack of a non user-pays business model?
    From the time Netscape gave up in 1998, until the first feathers of Firefox started forming, in 2003, there was no competition for IE6 and that, as much as anything, is why IE6 got such a stupendous market share.
    We have an established competitor now in Firefox and we have some alternatives in Opera and Safari. Let’s turn up the heat and stop getting bogged down in Microsoft’s petty politics. Let’s build features that really matter.
    Where is a decent rich text edit control built into a browser, instead of all these crappy JS versions?
    Where is the Firefox Power User mode instead of the dumbed-down simplified mode?
    Innovate and leave MS begging to ride on our coat tails!

  3. Yeah, I don’t understand the fuzz either. I actually think it’s a good idea of Microsoft.

  4. Web authors should just start serving standard code, with a notice: “Best with standards-compliant browsers (display logos)”. For IE they have a choice: the same as everyone else gets (looks like dog food), or simplistic code. With simplistic code, then it looks really spiffy on other browsers.
    “Whoa! This Web site really looks nice with Firefox/Opera/Safari/Camino/K-Meleon/Konqueror/IceWeasel/SeaBiscuit/WebMonkey/Minimo/Sub-Minimo/Netscape.”

  5. Unfortunately, the web is not about portals and browsers. It is a platform. And 70%+ of that platform is IE.

  6. Someday we’re just going to have to learn not to give a damn what Microsoft does with their browser.
    Nice idea, but how? Like it or not, almost anyone building websites or web-applications has to support the dominant browser in the industry, and right now, that’s IE. The cost in both time and money is huge, but there’s just no way around it – clients simply will not accept a solution that doesn’t work on Internet Explorer.

  7. Give them choices. A client wants a complicated Web site for IE? Fine. That will cost plenty. Itemize it.
    They want a standard Web site that will be maintainable into the future, and won’t break with the next IEx? Probably cheaper. Show them what it costs and let them choose. But tell them you won’t develop for nonstandard IE only because sooner or later that will come back to bite them, and you’ll get the blame.
    (From Alex: I’ve thought about this myself, and my gut feeling says to send different versions of the website via a server-side redirection, based on the user-agent.)

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