Thursday 21 July 2005

Meeting Microsoft

Since the announcement of the WaSP / Microsoft Corporation Task Force we’ve had two face to face meetings. The first was held in Portland, Oregon at WebVisions ’05. WaSP members DL Byron and myself met with Microsoft’s liaison to the Task Force, Brian Goldfarb. In this meeting, we brainstormed potential strategies and discussed how WaSP can be of greatest assistance to Microsoft as it makes its products more standards compliant.

The second meeting took place in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday of this week, when I met again with Brian Goldfarb, whose primary role at Microsoft is Product Manager for the Web Tools team. We were joined by Chris Wilson, who readers might recognize from his many years as a developer for IE, and who is now lead Program Manager for the Web Platform in Internet Explorer.

We used our time to discuss specific activities for the WaSP / Microsoft TF in the months to come. Plans include arrangements for WaSP members to evaluate Microsoft product betas and overall strategies. We’ll also work directly with the developer teams to unveil concerns and make recommendations regarding the standards compliance in products including Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, .NET and a range of other Microsoft software and platforms where Web standards matter.

The bottom line? We’re talking, Microsoft is listening.

Not only has Microsoft offered an open door to WaSP’s criticism and ultimate assistance, but individual developers there are expressing a lot of enthusiasm about our relationship. Sitting face to face with Brian and Chris, it’s certainly clear to me that these are colleagues who not only get the importance of standards compliance, but want it badly, too.

What’s also clear is that the realities of software development cycles, company policies and security priorities all will influence the timeline of how standards are implemented and bugs repaired within the Microsoft line of products. That we all have to be patient is simply a reality, and neither faction is looking at this as a short-term stopgap, but rather a long-term commitment to the greater good.

As part of the Task Force strategy a plan to keep the Web design and development community informed at regular intervals of our activities and progress is in place. This means that there will be regular updates from both WaSP and Microsoft about our activities, milestones and successes.

My opinion of the meetings, the motivation on the part of Microsoft at large to be a more open company and the individual warmth, intelligence and interest in improving the circumstances Brian and Chris have demonstrated leaves me absolutely confident in saying that support for web standards is an issue Microsoft is paying attention to very, very seriously.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 04:12 | Comments (37)

Comments (37)

  1. It is very encouraging to see that major corporations like Microsoft are taking steps toward a more simplified www. Congrats to you and the members of WaSP… Keep it up!

  2. Are you guys going to try and create a roadmap of sorts on the MS products and their move towards web standards compliance?

    Because, frankly, that would be Sweet.

  3. That’s great news, Molly!

    I’ll echo Emmanuel, you and the WaSP are doing excellent work in this area, keep it up!

  4. WWW = WaSP Wonder Woman

  5. was any ouzo involved? just kidding!

    time to change my mindset about “resistance is futile” and think of microsoft developers as real people who give a damn.

    WaSP, you are changing the world.

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  7. Thanks Emmanuel, Joshua. And if you think I’m some kind of Wonder Woman Dean, just remember you’re the prime WaSP go-to guy for IE, so you may regret being so nice to me 😉

    No Ms. Glenda, ouzo was not involved. Cheeseburgers for lunch in Portland, and Starbucks in Seattle. I love the symbolic practicality of our meeting spots.

    Your comment, Glenda, is the essence of my point. Microsoft developers do give a damn. And they are our colleagues, our peers – these are flesh and blood people and it’s time to start respecting that. We can bitch about Microsoft business practices or what have you all we want, but the devs aren’t the ones to have suspicions of integrity or ethic problems within a business laid on their shoulders.

    Faruk: We are in a sense creating a roadmap for product compliance, but it’s going to be an as-you-go kind of thing. Even in small software and Web dev companies, milestones and agendas shift with the environment and timing of many concerns. This is heightened in a huge environment such as Microsoft, and as such it’s really a bad idea to say “by this date – we’ll have this feature.” You can just see what would happen if scope creep got in the way, people would be angry and upset and it’s nothing that could have been foreseen.

    So, we’ll be incrementally keeping you posted and build the road along with the map 🙂

  8. Just wanted to thank everyone for the positive comments and well wishes that I’ve seen over a number of posts here. I’m very excited and optimistic about the great things that WaSP and Microsoft can do together in the name of Web standards. Great things are happening and I’m very glad to be a part of it.

  9. The WaSP+Microsoft TaskForce is definately one large positive step forward. I met Brian Goldfarb at TechEd Auckland almost a year ago and was really interested to see that Microsoft were starting to take an interest in webstandards. The TaskForce really takes their commitment ever further. This can only lead to good things.

    Hopefully Brian and Dean have tickets to WE05 and take Mr Gates too if he’s available.

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  12. Whenever I hear news like this I am reminded by one of the inarguable points of using Web Standards – “it’s the right thing to do”.

    Kudos to MS and WaSP for all their work; past, present and future.

  13. This is great news. Many of us work for large organizations whose internal software (and consequently all web apps) is “all Microsoft” and there’s nothing we can do about it. Having IE go web standard would make my life as an interface designer a heck of a lot easier. Keep up the good work.

  14. I’m excited by the news… however, I can’t help but feel a little resilient at looking forward to any new release.

    I was patient for a long time, I remember empty promises before; and I understand it’s only business professional to put on blind optimism; but I can’t shake this pessimistic feeling. Just being honest.

    I applaud Molly and WaSP for their continued efforts, and it’s always great to hear their progress – very few organizations have helped the web, and my own knowledge, grow. As for Microsoft, it all sounds good, but I won’t change my tune until I see more action and less talk.

  15. Very encouraging – I just pray that Visual Studio 2005 writes compliant code, or at least doesn’t touch my code.

  16. While this is welcome news why do I still have the suspicion that Microsoft will bite us in the leg?

    Sure they may end up producing the most standards compliant browser (for Windows anyway) but you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll add loads of IE-only extensions to try to push out other browsers again. And guess what they’ll trumpet about?

    I hope it’s not like this but, given their history, I doubt it somehow.

  17. I’m sure that Microsoft are aware that we aren’t going to support non-compliant proprietry extensions in any browser.

  18. Awesome job Molly. Just make sure to keep them on their toes, we don’t want them two facing us now.

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  20. G: check out the Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition beta — (

    You’ll see lots of improvements, including standards conformance by default (XHTML 1.0 Transitional and Section508/WCAG) at RTM. Beta 2 is still XHTML 1.1 Strict.

    We also have full source code preservation so no more code reformatting 🙂 plus lots of other improvements. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


  21. Brian
    You mention ‘XHTML 1.1 Strict’ here as you did when we talked at TechEd, this confused me a little then and may confuse others now.

    XHTML 1.1 is “a reformulation of XHTML 1.0 Strict using XHTML Modules” (W3C). So for anyone who was confused, XHTML 1.1 follows the same basic guidelines as XHTML 1.0 Strict but ‘XHTML 1.1 Strict’ is not something completely different, Brian just means XHTML 1.1.

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  23. Well it’s great to hear that Microsoft is finally coming round! And I am patient. It takes a long time for a large company to make fundamental changes.

    I was a permatemp there from ’96 to ’00 working as the webmaster for their accessibility site. This was back in the dark ages of terrible standards support. I discovered the work of WaSP in ’98 and was so convinced that they had the correct vision for the Web’s future that walked away from a permanent job offer and went into business for myself as standards compliant webmaster.

    I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one in the company (Temp or full.) who wanted better web standards compliance in MS products. It took them 8 years–it took us all 8 years–but it looks like they are beginning to get it at last!

    I’m glad this is finally happening!

  24. While the efforts of WaSP are admirable, and happy-fuzzy feelings about the devs themselves – as people – are merited, the preliminary results of Acid2 in IE7 Beta 1 are downright dismal. I’m not criticizing the talks, the supposed they’re-listening vibe, or the people on the side of the Standards, and least of all the things they’ve done to make it easier on us designers. I just feel it’s important to make a note of what has actually emerged from these efforts so far – a more broken renderer than before and seeming continuing apathy from the Corporation.

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  26. What’s also clear is that the realities of software development cycles, company policies and security priorities all will influence the timeline of how standards are implemented

    I wish I shared your faith. The reality is Gates & Co are gleeful and unrepentant monopolists. I have no doubt that the people you are talking to are enthusiastic and willing partners, but the people with the power to really change things could give a rat’s ass. All their bazillions and it’s taken them this long? I’ll bet their timeline works out so that they implement new features right about the time that they are no longer critical.

    If MS was to compensate me for all the extra unpaid time I have had to invest to work aound their bugs, I’d feel a lot more warm and fuzzy about being patient with them.

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  28. “XHTML 1.1 follows the same basic guidelines as XHTML 1.0 Strict but ‘XHTML 1.1 Strict’ is not something completely different”
    Oh, but it is. It’s a document that MUST be sent as application/xml+xhtml, whereas you can get away with text/html for XHTML1.0. Therefore it is a different beast, one that IE doesn’t support, and AFAICT won’t in v7.

    As to “We’re listening”, Tony Blair said that in 1997 to win a General Election… (The problems with IE are not necessarily the dev team’s fault, but speaking up for standards should have happened YEARS ago. Loudly. Repeatedly. Ad nauseam. Then we wouldn’t have the animosity.)

  29. Glad to hear Microsoft is finalyy getting inthe game! Should be great for the web if they decide to go head over heels for web standards.

  30. Mollly love your books almost as much as your blog! Very cool stuff it is like a webmasters learning paradise in here! Thanks for all the great tips and tricks!

  31. Microsoft should more often make meeting…

  32. da blya srat’ ya hotel na vse eto? ne snosite moi postiki blya!!!

  33. my microsoft meeting is a god prakcit for blya poshli na huy

  34. Alcoholism my favorite

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