MozillaZine

Help Petition MS to Support Standards

Thursday August 12th, 1999

Eric Krock writes, "The Web Standards Project has launched a petition drive to pressure Microsoft to support HTML 4.0, CSS1, DOM1, and XML in IE. Read the press releases here and here.

... then sign your name to the petition by sending an email from this page."

With Microsoft's posturing regarding messaging standards recently, you might have forgotten that Internet Explorer is not yet standards compliant. Microsoft, in fact, has yet to commit to full standards compliance.

It took the WSP nine months, but they seem to have finally gotten around to petitioning Microsoft on this issue (as you may recall, they petitioned mozilla.org last year).

Now if they could only petition the W3C to revamp their faulty standards process. The W3C could start by creating a certification process for browsers. A standard isn't a standard if there isn't some body enforcing the standard and giving its certification. Would you buy a bike helmet that wasn't approved by a standards body? A car with seatbelts that didn't meet safety standards? A TV that wasn't certifiably able to interpret the signal coming into it?

The W3C could then follow up by creating a verifiable implementation of the standard themselves, instead of forcing the browser makers to spend countless hours and dollars working through vagaries and inconsistencies in the "finalized" spec. (I have seen indication of this at times in the mozilla forums - I'd love it if a developer would speak up and give us a concrete example or two). Seeing as there is no longer a browser "market" - other than the incidental revenues browsers can draw in from portal sites - it seems silly to force browser makers to shoulder the burden of winnowing the standards specifications.

What do you think? Is it time for more fundamental changes in the web standards process? Let us know what you think in the talkback forum.


#1 When Will it End, Or, Prima Movers they are not

by Anon

Thursday August 12th, 1999 8:07 PM

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I have to disagree with the method by which the WSP operates.

It makes me see the WSP as just a bunch of people complaining and petitioning. The innovators and the implementors (W3C, Netscape, Microsoft) are doing all the real work. Its seems like the WSP members could use their time more constructively -- perhaps by helping design Mozilla, or by testing it.

I think there are more constructive things to worry about than the W3C's "faulty standards process." Like, perhaps, what should be added to CSS3, XHTML, XML, etc; or, how the aforementioned standards should be implemented.

Further, I think the people at Netscape are likely biased against Microsoft, and have no business rallying the Internet community to pressure it to better support standards -- effectively trying to foment some grassroots campaign -- one that has been already been going on for some time throughout more knowledgable circles.

This news item says that "you may have forgotten that IE is not standards compliant." Well I certainly haven't, but if "you" have, perhaps your real motivation is not standards-compliance but instead an urge to pressure entities a lot larger and smarter than yourself (such as Microsoft).

Further, an argument that compares safety concerns for the general public to the standardization desires of a select few priveleged enough to be on the Internet is inherently flawed -- no civil trials will result from an Internet client not complying with standards, nor will the government step in and mandate that a product adhere to such standards.

I haven't bothered to even read the petition on the WSP site because past experiences reading similar documents lead me to believe that it is almost certainly a long winded, meaningless, provincial banality.

Mozilla.org implements; the W3C innovates and implements (in the abstract sense); the WSP complains, whines, petitions, and acts like an ill-fed child.

#3 When Will it End, Or, Prima Movers they are not

by Anon

Thursday August 12th, 1999 11:23 PM

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What a load of old piss wavering around in the wind. Mind your shoes.

What good are standards that cannot be followed? What good are new standards when the old are not used? What good is the web when it only works on half the browsers out there? What good is the effort to build two webs, one for each browser? What good are "innovations" that never see the light of day, or rust in the rain through lack of use? What good is asking for something better?

#9 Business Versus Desire

by Anon

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:50 AM

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What I think a lot of people are missing out on with the Mozilla broswer in general is the fact that this is all nothing new.

Microsoft will probably not ever comply with the W3C's standards. That is bad business. They know it and so does Netscape. The only reason Netscape agreed to follow the standards is, feeling their positioned threatened, going open-source would allow for a last ditch effort against a mega-billion dollar supercompany (MS). If you don't know allready, those that create the standards are the ones with true power on the internet. That's why open source is doing so well: no controlling force. Ironicly, something so uncontrolled can be relied upon more than anything else. From realaudio to mp3 to windows media player, there is money in standards. Netscape GOT to be a billion dollar company by setting up a browser. Not many newcomers remember a time when many webpages had banners on webpages encouraging their fellow net users to comply with Netscape's standards (which included, for instance, tables) as opposed to the old NCSA Mosaic.

It is well known that Microsoft has a past as the "user-friendly, prettier" developer but miss out on the guts of a program. Many an article have I seen on this from IE to NT. It's great to be a web developer for it's cool little bells and whistles but very difficult to do something really involved. Netscape and Sun (of course, now allied) both have reputations for trying to be as reliable as possible. And as functional. Both companies will probably always follow this model.

Microsoft does not have a history of listening to it's users, the developers, the internet, or some well-meaning standards project. It does what a company that pays people who work for it. It makes money. He who builds the intrastructure for the internet by building it's browser picks his salary. How's 20 billion?

Fork - <webfork@netscape.net>

#6 When Will it End, Or, Prima Movers they are not

by Ben_Goodger

Friday August 13th, 1999 4:33 AM

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"Its seems like the WSP members could use their time more constructively -- perhaps by helping design Mozilla, or by testing it."

But that's not their job. They're web developers. They are under no obligation to show allegience to any particular browser. They expect that the browsers they are given are sufficiently compatible that they can create their product (websites) in an efficient manner.

"I think there are more constructive things to worry about than the W3C's "faulty standards process." Like, perhaps, what should be added to CSS3, XHTML, XML, etc; or, how the aforementioned standards should be implemented."

W3C isn't as much about innovation as those who live on the bleeding edge, like Netscape or Microsoft developers. It did take them until HTML4.0 to include some of the stuff NN and IE have supported for years. W3C should be about defining what a standard is, and then providing some sort of authentication for products that meet their standards. Otherwise there is no point, the standards have no meaning. People who haven't suffered from standards deficiencies are beginning to think that "90% standards compliant" is enough. We should not move forward until we achieve excellence at what we have already discovered.

"Further, I think the people at Netscape are likely biased against Microsoft, and have no business rallying the Internet community to pressure it to better support standards -- effectively trying to foment some grassroots campaign -- one that has been already been going on for some time throughout more knowledgable circles. "

Of course they're biased against Microsoft. Microsoft is their competitor. Ford is biased against GM, and wouldn't hesitate to point out the faults in GM's products. But I think you're confused. Netscape isn't rallying anyone. The Web Standards Project is an independent organisation.

"Further, an argument that compares safety concerns for the general public to the standardization desires of a select few priveleged enough to be o n the Internet is inherently flawed -- no civil trials will result from an Internet client not complying with standards, nor will the government step in and mandate that a product adhere to such standards. "

How about video standards such as VHS? Or PAL/NTSC? I suffer from living in one of the few places that uses PAL, and I can't easily view foreign video cassettes on my ageing equipment. Recent equipment sold here supports both PAL and NTSC standards, so that people buying new VCRs can watch both styles of videotape. That doesn't affect my personal safety and well being (other than the emptiness provided by not being able to buy "A Clockwork Orange" locally ;)

"I haven't bothered to even read the petition on the WSP site [..]"

You've made that rather clear.

Don't forget that the WSP organized a petition against mozilla.org, and based on the support that was shown, the work that had been done on a capable but non-standards-compliant browser was ditched, and a new one created from a fully standards compliant engine. This because people spoke out.

#2 Why?

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Thursday August 12th, 1999 8:55 PM

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The fact that IE sucks in comparison to Netscape 5.0 will help bury the stupid thing. Bummer.

#4 Why?

by Anon

Thursday August 12th, 1999 11:27 PM

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A small history of the world:

Netscape 4.0 sucks in comparison to IE4/5. It's buried. Bummer.

No Mozilla. No standards compliance.

Another history:

Netscape 5 buries IE. History repeats and Netscape grows fat and bloated and non-standards compliant.

Ashes in your mouth.

Vive le competition. Vive la choice.

#5 Microsoft response

by briank

Friday August 13th, 1999 2:32 AM

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This is all very well. I'm all for Web Standards. It would make many peoples jobs alot easier. Before I sign anything though, I'd like to hear a response from Microsoft.

Do they have any staements out yet, or is there somewhere on their site , for example where they talk about standards?

-Brian

#20 Microsoft response

by hto

Monday August 16th, 1999 12:52 AM

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I don't know the the URLs/documents where they say it, but I have both heard personally from MS people and read, printed on paper that:

- MS has done user surveys and these show their users do not need/demand standards compliance so they will not bother doing it

- MS is trying to implement the standards but is faced with the same shortage of resources as any other software company

Really, that is what they have said. I seem to remember there are some official MS web pages that basically state MS is committed to implement all relevant standards. Believe what you want.

In any case, there are MS people sitting in the W3C working groups and they are doing their share in defining the standards. As for implementing them, we'll see...

#7 Signed

by badben

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:30 AM

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As for me, I have been "member" since the beginning of WSP, I think, and I signed.

I think, what WSP does is necessary and it's the perfect time to do so.

#8 Help Petition MS to Support Standards

by Anon

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:38 AM

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The WSP are a lobbying group, they are not programmers, OS developers. They have every right to promote the view of a large populace of web developers. And if that appears to be whining, it is only because some people like you are still not listening.

Why shouldn't the government intervene on the stanards certification level? Isn't that fact that the lack of browser parity is costing the industry millions a year in dual-site development costs enough for them. This is the biggest new industry in the world, it will be worth thousands of billions and so will be the wasted costs if standards aren't adopted. Can a responsible government allow this industry to be crippled by bickering over standards compliance that does -not- have to affect a companies market dominance.

Accepting standards would be no skin of Microsofts nose. Their business would not suffer from a rendering engine that adhered 100%.

Why shouldn't Microsoft adopt the core engine produced by the Mozilla project, if it turns out to be as well an engineered project as it promises to be. The chrome, the desktop, the OS would all still be MS's, but the browser would render like all others.

If Mozilla were to distance itself further from Netscape, surely this could be made less of a political loss for the behemoth.

#10 Glass Houses

by Anon

Friday August 13th, 1999 12:49 PM

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Pot and kettle.

Let's take a look in the mirror here people

#11 Yeah, no kidding

by Anon

Friday August 13th, 1999 5:50 PM

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How about that Java "standard" which is controlled by Sun.

#12 Help Petition MS to Support Standards

by zontar

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:24 PM

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I grow weary of whining by Anonymous Cowards...

#13 Help Petition MS to Support Standards

by zontar

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:40 PM

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I don't mean to condemn people who choose not to register as MozillaZine members merely because they haven't done do, far from it, so please allow me to qualify that last statement: I grow weary of people who seem to visit this site regularly and leave nothing in their wake but criticism of the Mozilla effort, the efforts of those who support it, and of Mozilla's current or potential allies.

The fact of the matter is that we can have an open Web, or we can have remade in the image of Microsoft. Microsoft even tries to change the vocabulary with which people discuss the Web to suit itself, and is largely succeeding. I am heartily sick of it. Every day I deal with people who think every programming language ought to be coded as if it were VB.

We can either strive to have some kind of open standards, or we can roll over and allow the Microsoft Way dominate our thinking. In my view, nearly anything is preferable to the latter.

And I have about run out of patience for those who would rather quibble than to address this, the real problem.

#14 No doubt -- GET A NAME n/t

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Friday August 13th, 1999 6:42 PM

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n/t

#18 Okay, I sent it

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Friday August 13th, 1999 8:38 PM

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Okay, I sent the thing, but I don't think it will work. M$ has made it evident they intend to fully integrate "Internet technologies" into their OSs for the future, and I think the branded IE is on its way out as a result -- it works against what they tried to prove in court, for one thing. In fact, I think this is whyt M$ shipped IE5 in such lousy shape. They don't care, it's all about their next OS now that AOL owns Netscape. The whole point was to waste Netscape and when they couldn't charge $40 for IE (they tried, I've seen the box), they made it free and we all know the rest.

M$ would like nothing more than to make the Internet a Windows proprietary feature, and I think they'll have to be hog-tied to support standards that work against that goal.

But I sent the letter, because it can't hurt to try, I guess.

#19 Help Petition MS to Support Standards

by zontar

Sunday August 15th, 1999 11:51 PM

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I think Tekhir and Ben_G covered just about everything I wasnted to say, so I'll just add to the greneral response to Anon of Ibid there that MSIE's XML compliance is also -- you guessed it -- nonstandard.

BTW, I also sent the letter (I've been a WSP member since Day 1, or maybe 2), although I suspect, as Kovu has noted above, that MS will probably give only slightly less than a rat's @$$ about it. But, as the old saw has it: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We'll see...

--Zontar The Mindless, Village Idiot.

#21 Help Petition MS to Support Standards

by zontar

Monday August 16th, 1999 5:24 PM

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IOW, MS has uttered the same old, tired MSCorporatePartyLine -- figures.