Divide and conquer
Saturday, January 26, 2008 6:02:11 PM
It feels to me as if we are at the start of another browser war. The calm before the storm is certainly over, following Opera's initial opening salvo. Microsoft's proposal is bad for the other browser vendors, bad for standards and bad for accessibility. I would consider it to be anti competitive. What is worrying for me is the whole fall out of this proposal, which has fractured the community.
There is a classic military technique called divide and conquer that has been used to great effect down the years by the British. With a number of leading web standards advocates under Microsoft NDA, and the WaSP in disarray (not to mention the whole CSS WG debate) , Microsoft (whether intentionally or not) seem to be using the same tactic to their benefit. It is imperative that WaSP and the web standards movement pull together as one, stop the in fighting, and have strong leadership. I for one would love to see Molly back involved. As the saying goes, United they stand, divided they fall.
Having thought about it more, it still feels like the
meta element proposal is the web's equivalent of Microsoft driving the tanks into Poland. It must be stopped, but I'm not quite sure how yet. No one can stop MS implementing it if they do so wish. Maybe Opera's complaint wasn't so bad after all?
I'm still working through all the reasons in my head why this proposal is so bad for the web (and especially competing browser vendors), but one issue that immediately sprung to mind was that of accessibility. I fired off a e-mail to Bruce Lawson to confirm my feelings, and he agreed -
While I understand Chris Wilson's position on
Don't break the Web, and very much understand that this is an incredibly hard nut to crack (I work on similar issues every day), it feels like this proposal is more
break the web for others. There must be a better solution.
When the dust settles, will MS have Silverlight waiting in the wings, on its golden horse? A List Apart are even advertising the solution:
Create next generation Web applications with Silverlight™. Get free online training now. The Deck (the advertising network used) even states in emphases that We won’t take an ad unless we have paid for and/or used the product or service. If the web freezes development of standards by default, then perhaps Silverlight will become a much more viable alternative to the web for the many web developers that are not web standards experts and know to add the meta element or use the HTML5 doctype. Is this what MS (not necessarily Chris or the core of the IE team, who's commitment to standards I believe are genuine) secretly hope for?