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Microsoft U-turns on WebKit extension for Mobile IE

Goodwill turns bad

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The Microsoft team building Internet Explorer for Windows Phone 7 has U-turned on plans to add an extension from WebKit to their browser.

The company will only offer a Microsoft-specific prefix to scale text using the next CSS in its mobile phone browser, and it won't add support for the -webkit-text-size-adjust CSS selector - though the code had already turned up in the Windows Phone 7 Emulator.

Windows Phone principal program manger Joe Marini announced the reversal less than a day after he blogged that Microsoft would add the WebKit extension. The U-turn was picked up by ZDNet here.

Marini hit reverse after Microsoft's mobile IE team was slammed by commenters who accused the company of floating an "absurd" and "ill-conceived" change. Among them was World Wide Web Consortium CSS working group chairman Daniel Glazman:

"Let me state it very clearly: vendor prefixes are here for experimental purposes by the vendor represented in the prefix. I __strongly__ recommend removing *immediately* that -webkit-* property from Mobile IE."

Vendor prefixes are used by companies when they want to implement technologies or specifications that are still being pushed through the standards body and are subject to change. The idea is that a company can update its prefix if, and when, the spec changes.

If Microsoft had incorporated the WebKit prefix, developers targeting IE on Windows Phone 7 may have been left at the mercy of those building the WebKit API. If the WebKit team makes a change, it may have broken developers' pages. It would have also required IE-for-mobile developers to build their sites for both the Microsoft and WebKit prefixes.

Marini modestly thanked everybody for their feedback, adding that the idea behind adding WebKit prefixes was to make Web developers' lives "a bit easier" by not having to add "yet another" vendor-prefixed CSS property to their pages to control how text was scaled.

You can experience the full wrath of commenters at the bottom of the original blog here. ®

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