OMG! I’m kinda on the side of Microsoft!
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-11
I’m an open-source unix-loving bigot, so it is very strange for me to urge qualified support for Microsoft when M$ is under attack in an anti-trust case.
What is happening is that Opera, with less that 1% of the Browser Hit Marketshare, has gone to the EU anti-trust groups (which have a history of justly hassling M$) complaining about bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, and Mozilla Firefox (who have over 20% of the market) have weighed in on the case.
Firefox is being unfair in my view, although not for the reasons outlined in ArsTechnica who rightly say that M$ market dominance is dropping.
If there is abuse by Microsoft, it is that IE has never yet released a production browser that correctly renders standard html – and with their market, this makes it much harder for those products that generate standard html to be viewed fairly, more than the browsers (like Firefox, which I heartily recommend) that do render standard HTML properly, but have problems dealing with the non-standard HTML generated by M$ products.
Admittedly, M$ are promising that IE8 will be much better rendering standard html, but that’s still a promise about a product that is still Beta, not production. Other browsers render standard html fine… it’s the FIRST thing they try and do.
To fix this, the EU anti-trust mob should force Microsoft to include one or two other browsers with each installation of Windows until such time as a production version of Internet Explorer is included that renders standard HTML as well as it does Microsoft non-standard HTML.
Google and Apple could also weigh in, because they know Microsoft wants to increase market share of Windows (including IE) on appliances such as mobile phones, and an IE that barfs on standard HTML promotes non-standard HTML from both Microsoft and non-Microsoft generators.
As with any broken implementation of a standard by a dominant company, this makes it nastier for everyone. It also makes life difficult indirectly for standards-compliant browsers, because they’ve got to work out the guts of the Microsoft non-standard HTML and figure out how to deal with it: this takes time and money.
And if browsers, from Microsoft or not, need to use the extra libraries to deal with standard and non-standard Microsoft html as well, well that takes up space in memory and disk… making it harder on consumers and equipment manufacturers.
So, take Microsoft to court by all means because of the dominance of Internet Explorer, but unbundling it isn’t the problem. Fixing IE (and ensuring there are alternatives bundled with Windows until then) should be the method of remediation.
The only thing is that Microsoft wouldn’t accept this approach unless there was no other alternative… because it absolutely relies on market dominance, refusal to deal properly with standards. Just look at how hard they are making it to use ISO standard Office Document Format (the equivalent of Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents, but in the format natively used by OpenOffice) with Microsoft Office? Do you see easy "OpenAs/SaveAs ODF/OpenOffice" in your version of M$-Office?
And why do governments buy and use products like Microsoft Office that HATE standards, when things that DO comply with standards come at no cost?
That’s the next fight.