Microsoft don’t bully the web!

August 3, 2005

In a recent article on WindowsITPro.com by Paul Thurrott he called for a boycott of Microsoft and their Internet Explorer product. He ended his remarks on the decision by Microsoft to not make the next version of Internet Explorer completely compliant with the web standards with this:

“My advice is simple: Boycott IE. It’s a cancer on the Web that must be stopped. IE isn’t secure and isn’t standards-compliant, which makes it unworkable both for end users and Web content creators. Because of their user bases, however, Web developers are hamstrung into developing for IE at the expense of established standards that work well in all other browsers. You can turn the tide by demanding more from Microsoft and by using a better alternative Web browser. I recommend and use Mozilla Firefox, but Apple Safari (Macintosh only) and Opera 8 are both worth considering as well.”

The standards he speaks of are ones set by separate entity than Microsoft, a company that controls the market like the juggernaut they are. Because of the undeniable control of the web Microsoft in my opinion, whether they should or not, does set the standard. How can something that over 85% of the people who use the internet day in and day out not be the standard? Just by the command of their market share Microsoft is and sets the standards.

Now do I think this is right? The simple answer is no. But because of the commanding lead and almost impossibility of Microsoft not being the dominant force on the web for at least until the end of this decade, unless some unseen force changes that, Microsoft will be the standard. We as developers and consumers must accept this fact and live with it until we can change things. Since the majority of web users will not switch to a more “standards” compliant browser we must show Microsoft that we want the browser to conform in anyway it can to create a more open environment on the web for alternative browsers, but how can we accomplish this?

I have to say when I first saw Thurrott’s call for a boycott I thought that he was jumping the gun and making a fool of himself for making a war cry for a non-issue. Microsoft has set the standard so other browsers need to conform to those. But the more I thought about it the more I realized he was right. Microsoft does need to be more accepting of the standards that other browsers follow. Microsoft is the big bully in the playground we call the internet and they are trying to use their might of control over that playground so that others are forced to use them to use the playground and all it offers. By forcing websites to use the standards that Microsoft has set they have mad the web in some way incompatible with other browsers than the one they make. To truly experience the web the way you are meant to you are forced to use Internet Explorer because of the bullying that Microsoft has done.

Microsoft does though seem to be setting themselves up for a better browser. By at least attempting to comply with the standards they can without breaking the web into an unusable wasteland of broken sites they show that they are trying. The only question I ask is are they doing all they can without turning the internet into a wasteland? Hopefully they are and maybe with this new focus on standards compliance they can slowly transition to a more standard compliant browser that stops bullying sites into building a site for Internet Explorer and not the internet. Am I going as far as Thurrott to call for a boycott? No, but I am calling for developers to slowly transition from the old way of the internet relying on Internet Explorer and move onto the standards that have been accepted by the other browsers available. Maybe by doing this Microsoft will see they have been left behind and begin to transition Internet Explorer into a better browser.

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