> But none of that matters to the W3C, which is joyfully
> taking Microsoft's statement on its face value. "It's a
> very strong statement of support," said Rohit Khare, a
> technical staff member at the W3C. "This is a landmark
> in the credibility of our efforts."
One adverb can do you in... at least it wasn't 'gleefully'!
Now, let's see if this dies down, or if InfoWorld/PCWeek raise the ante.
Internally, here's where we got our message out, subtly:
> Microsoft's change in attitude may be a little late
> anyway. With the exception of the creation of style
> sheets, much of the debate about standards has moved on
> from HTML to issues surrounding programmable content,
> such as Java applets and ActiveX controls. And maybe
> Microsoft itself got tired of trying to keep up with
> Netscape's extensions.
Anything we can do to raise the competitive bar above HTML allows us freedom
to cooperate in a nonpolarized environment for the greater good.
The big guy vows to play by the rules
[Insert cute picture of Bill Gates with a halo]
By Nick Wingfield
July 19, 1996, 5:15 p.m. PST
In an bid to paint itself as the good guy in an Internet standards war,
_Microsoft_ today issued a _pledge_ to diligently respect the Hypertext Markup
The "Microsoft Pledge on HTML Standards" is a wholehearted dig at rival
_Netscape Communications_, which has promoted a number of controversial
extensions to the standard. But the document also reads as a mea culpa for
Microsoft's own proprietary HTML work, which it has done in the name of
"embracing and extending" Internet standards.
"Previously proprietary HTML extensions from Microsoft and other vendors have
confused the market, hampered interoperability and been ill-conceived with
respect to the design principles underlying HTML (and its SGML parent)," the
HTML is a standardized language for creating documents viewed from Web
browsers. Tim Berners-Lee was the original developer of the HTML specification
and is now its custodian as the head of the _World Wide Web Consortium_.
As companies such as Microsoft and Netscape have struggled to differentiate
themselves in a technology market founded on this open standard, vendors have
increasingly defined the direction of HTML by independently adding unique
extensions to the language, such as Netscape's "blinking text" or Microsoft's
"Netscape has the headstart-open-policy where they get to take the [HTML]
specification where they want to take it," said Jerry Michalski, managing
editor of industry newsletter _Release 1.0_. "When they publish tools is when
they publish the spec, but that gives them a lovely window of opportunity."
The scenario is akin to what happened to Unix, another "open" standard.
Although the basic Unix code is open, each major computer vendor created its
own version of the operating system that would run only on its own machines,
thereby forcing application vendors to write modified versions of the software
for each Unix version--all the time while proudly raising the open standards
Microsoft and Netscape have in the past vigorously defended their extensions,
insisting that they must innovate to survive in a fast-moving industry. And
anyway, they add, all of our extensions are submitted to the W3C.
But today's statement from Microsoft is a rare public admission that users
who have complained are right: its extensions have created interoperability
problems because sites optimized for one browser don't function correctly when
viewed with another.
In the statement, Microsoft agrees not to ship any HTML extensions without
first submitting them to the W3C and to implement all of the W3C's
specifications for the language. "Microsoft agrees to hold itself to these
standards," the statement reads. "Will all of the other Web browser vendors,
including Netscape, also agree to this conduct of behavior?"
Not everyone is convinced of the software giant's sincerity.
"We're not seeing Microsoft knuckle under the standards rule. Nobody wants to
put the fate of their standard in the hands of standards body. That will
never happen. [Microsoft] is trying to appear that they're more upstanding and
respectable," said Josh Bernoff, senior analyst at _Forrester Research_. "The
difference between this and what Netscape does is not particularly
Microsoft's change in attitude may be a little late anyway. With the
exception of the creation of style sheets, much of the debate about standards
has moved on from HTML to issues surrounding programmable content, such as
Java applets and ActiveX controls. And maybe Microsoft itself got tired of
trying to keep up with Netscape's extensions.
But none of that matters to the W3C, which is joyfully taking Microsoft's
statement on its face value. "It's a very strong statement of support," said
Rohit Khare, a technical staff member at the W3C. "This is a landmark in the
credibility of our efforts."