Feeds

Opera chief: Microsoft's IE 8 ‘undermines’ web standards

Silverlight a lesson in openness

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

If Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8 this week — as expected — then the company will likely be congratulated by many for doing the right thing and finally adding support for web standards to its browser.

For years, Microsoft has gone its own way online with its own IE rendering engine. That's forced web developers to either build one version of their web sites for IE and another for all those other browsers that do implement HTML and CSS in a broadly consistent way or simply to target IE and get to the others later — or never. That's distorted the market.

When IE 8 does arrive, though, whatever standards support it offers isn't going to satisfy the browser company whose complaint over lack of web standards support and bundling of IE with Windows spurred the European Union into investigating Microsoft last year. That case has now attracted the backing of browser competitors Google and Mozilla.

Opera Software chief executive Jon von Tetzchner told The Reg that while Microsoft is headed in the right direction, IE continues to undermine open standards on the web.

The fundamental problem is Microsoft's decision to allow users to continue to view billions of old pages optimized for non-compliant IE 6 and 7 that would otherwise be scrambled in IE 8.

As far as von Tetzchner is concerned, that's not just bad for companies like Opera that must continue wasting time and money simply updating sites built for IE 6 and 7 to work with their browsers. It also means that Microsoft continues to exert undue and damaging influence over the web.

"We want to see there's competition and a referee — to make sure everybody follows the rules and ensure there's competition in the market," von Tetzchner said.

Von Tetzchner has little truck with the dual rendering approach Microsoft's taken on IE, and he clearly believes Microsoft could have leveraged its size to kill the issue once and for all with IE 8.

"Microsoft has a unique position — the fact is, as soon as they have a browser out there they get massive volumes, people are going to code for them. It's only a matter of time. It's a lot more difficult for the competition," he said.

But the company's size and presence has a negative side. Von Tetzchner is worried that after Microsoft's hiatus on browser development in the early 2000s, the company is back in the game and that it can crush the competition by pumping out IE through Windows desktops.

This raises the further risk that the web becomes distorted, as innovation will be dictated at the pace Microsoft chooses to move at and on technologies that it favors. It's noteworthy that while Microsoft has adopted the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) HTML 5 and CSS 2.1 in IE 8, it has not employed Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) that has been employed by Mozilla, Google, and Opera and is also from the W3C stable.

"The risk we are seeing is Microsoft is back and now working on the browser and the fact they didn't work on the browser gave room for the competition… if Microsoft provides a better product you might see a reversal of the trend — it's a dangerous thing for the internet," he said.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Next page: EU backing

More from The Register

next story
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.