Thursday 14 December 2006

Who Questions Bill Gates’ Commitment to Web Standards?

On a rainy Wednesday in Redmond, Washington, 14 invited bloggers and industry leaders gathered at building 20 of the Microsoft campus for a full day of discussion regarding Microsoft’s outreach to its communities via the upcoming MIX07 conference. The very interesting and productive meeting was topped off with an hour spent with none other than Bill Gates, during which we had the fantastic opportunity to discuss issues of concern to the industry.

We were asked not to publish any audio, video, or photos (except for the group photo here, which you can also see on Flickr for more detail). I wish I could publish the audio, I think folks would enjoy it, but since I promised not to, I’ll make good on that and provide you the transcript of my discussion with Bill on the issue of Web standards here. I also have some video from earlier in the day that will be of interest to the standards community. The photo that’s on Flickr is tagged with all the attendees if you’d like more information on that. So, here’s my five minutes of Web standards banter with Bill Gates, which I hope you’ll find as intriguing, charmingly stubborn and witty as Mr. Gates himself.

bloggers and web influentials gather at Microsoft to discuss the MIX conference

Molly: On behalf of the constituents that I represent . . . standards-oriented developers and Web standards supporters around the world, I think they see a tremendous leap forward in IE7 and the work that has been done as well as the evangelism, the outreach. What would you say to the people that remain skeptical about Microsoft’s agenda in terms of committing to the implementation of standards for the browser and other development tools instead of this paranoia that seems to be out there that Microsoft wants to own the Web. What would you tell the skeptics out there regarding your commitment to the implementation of open Web Standards in your products?

Bill: I don’t know what it would mean to own the Web. It sounds attractive! [group laughter]. We’re a software company, and we write software tools that let people do productivity, content, write applications. You know, we have our track record. I don’t know what date you want to start in. 1993, when we started IE 1.0, or 1995 when we shipped Windows 95, or when we shipped IE 4.0? We have our track record.

Molly: Well that’s the irony. You [Microsoft] were always ahead of the curve until the IE6 issue occurred, and this . . . five year gap really caused some issues for the development world, and that’s continued.

Bill: No, no. Come on! There’s stuff in IE 4.0 that people are starting to take advantage of. I mean . . . script has been there!

Molly: Scripting, yes.

Bill: Well? Now people are finally using it.

Molly: Well, how about CSS support specifically? It comes down to CSS implementation . . .

Bill: Well, okay. That is up to Dean . . .

Molly: [amidst laughter] Oh, I see, passing the buck, Bill?

Bill: No, no, there’s two things. There’s what we expect we’re trying to do; and the state of implementation of the things we’re trying to do. We’ve done the Mea Culpa . . . that yes, we should have kept the browser innovation curve to be a more continuous curve. Believe me, we wish that we’d done that differently. Dean’s group is getting more resources, and so you’ll actually see us not only going back to the state of what we were innovating before but actually innovating at faster speeds than we were before. A lot of that has to do with implementing standards. It also has to do with doing user interface things that make our browser a cool browser and ultimately preferable for people to use.

Molly: But the question wasn’t answered, which is: What is the commitment?

Bill: Who has done more implementation of Web standards than Microsoft? I mean . . .

Molly: I’m not arguing you. I’m asking a question . . .

Bill: No, no but eventually a question has to be answerable. What did we do in 1995? What did we do in 1996? What did we do in 1997 . . . you can skip like three years and say we did nothing. We didn’t do anything proprietary, either! That’s criticizing not our intent, our strategy, that’s criticizing our execution and we fully accept that. But every year for 13, 14 years now we’ve not just followed and implemented standards, we’ve contributed. This WS stuff, . . . we contributed more Web standards than anyone! We have our smartest people who go and work on that stuff . . . we just did the OpenOffice . . . our office XML formats we contributed to them . . . we’ve got XML at the core of all our products. Back in 1996 it was us and a few small companies that proposed XML in the first place. At some point you just have to say hey, look at our track record and if somebody’s track record doesn’t prove something you, then I’ll probably never convince you of something. What is it that we’re not doing? You know if you name some obscure thing and say hey, Microsoft ought to do more on that I’ll probably just send Dean mail and say hey, she said that such and such a thing we should go and do and we’ll go and do it . . .

Molly: That’s absolutely what’s happened, and I’m acknowledging you for that and Microsoft for that. I’m just saying there are a lot of skeptics still out there.

Bill: How can they be skeptical? I guess if your job is to be skeptical, you’d hate to be out of a job!

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 20:09 | Comments (91)

Comments (91)

  1. Bill: Who has done more implementation of Web standards than Microsoft? I mean . . .


  2. Ean–

    You will get no arguments from me … all hat and no cattle has never been that impressive.

    Obviously, what my comments failed to clearly state was that the reference to “everyone” did not include contributers to this thread.

    What interests me, is not Bill Gates posturing, but Molly Holzchlags hardcore assessment and opinions of the conference.

    Thank you.

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  4. Folks- ENOUGH READY!

    This meeting was described as “a full day of discussion regarding Microsoft’s outreach to its communities” and the only information we’re getting is a few minutes of dialog whose sole purpose is to portray Molly as a “Bill-killer” and portray Bill as out of touch. Surely there’s a lot more valuable information! Let’s get a report on that!

    Incidentally, if we’re taking a trip “down memory lane” re: Microsoft’s commitment to Web standards over the years, was Molly talking standards when she worked at Microsoft until 1995?

  5. Yes, lots of “No, no”‘s from Mr. Gates. I haven’t tried IE 7 yet. too scared 😉 & I love Firefox. but by the comments here, it looks safe, so will give it a shot.

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  8. this will probable won’tn get out but , there seem to be a pattern that is not reconisized as when can any one be allowed to do anything to the future the gates is in volved in . I talling abuot in the fact that not only was microsoft stealing all the work and leaving me crippiled as my fuuntions don’t work or there black out . How the hell am I work on others building when I can Keep them from stealing and runing my computer there is a patter that is either being egnored or that microsoft owns them . well there is one or two my wife you;ll never own us gate ,see your problem just got worce as think run unter your old way are just that old and stealing to make you look as if new progress is being made could be father from the truth well your dfay is coming for the inumain treat ment it going to com back at you 10 fold not my judgment for that you don’t want to hear for it would be dealing with you presonaly and all your dam wothless soders or slaves would be a closser . wait brown nosers that can’t get to the bath room with ot help or institions on there ownen. 10 years of crap of yours and guess what bill I’m still here and I read all that you did last week this week and every week that you try to erase and ruin me as making you in fist . well soon if not me your light is going to frick er and geuss what , the main thin is the light is going to come back on but not in the dim as you like if you get the point {dim}, but in the bright and see just how gulyyyyy of what you are to what you do to the fact that your rope is short than the dictaror of guess how. and if not by me for saying the true of the fact tath I tried sending over and over and you deleteiong as to make me not have the truth is what you do best ,well your getting closer to the ege for some are exstosing you more and more . So it is tue money can buy every one that to bad that mean time running out and you made your bed so sleep in it along with the rest of the low lives that have not though of there one , only what you put there and god hell themfor I put you all up again the wall and [/[.; and then let got sourt you out for there nothing here that can help I tried. And now it been out of my hands . Imjust giving the facts and fact they are, and crimminl are the worst of them and yet time will tellI vote ,thum down good luck on the rest I told you mchanging jiob is nothing to do with the person and you migh as well canged your cloues for that all you’v changed. Your the same cook and far worces, as you always been . I’ll probable payu hell for stating the truth , and analised upside and down thanks to you well here this,this is contolled anger if there is such a thing for what these people if you can call them that, have on a contionued basais done is underminding the very santaty of what is human and what is garbage, and the allowance of them to comtinue in leaving my ass in hell is un called for. so do as you want for the truth is the truth whuich these what ever no not even how to begin to tell and yet I ‘m and wife , are to be the punishment tyhat to contoled anger do nothing to say what burn in side as I follow the rules as I can’t say there are any more out there doing so. So why? do I well if you look there must be somthing here that is breaking the law , if not read my minde and that will shuiry break every law in the book and that st would cover the fact to where I take them , figure it out ether hang me or hang them but do somthing righ for a change and that alone is a long time seeing so do somthing. Michael A Wandersee

  9. Cor blimey mate. Your palms musta been sweaty and u musta been in a rage. Bill never takes blame for his own failings, i s’pose u dunt become the richest man in the world by telling the truth and accepting blame.


  10. Just added a comment on my blog about the lack of web standards support in microsofts web developer tools, which is even more important in my opinion, because it affects thousands of zombies and their way of coding html: Justaddwater: Micsosoft’s commitment to web standards

  11. Pingback: | Microsoft’s Commitment to Web Standards

  12. Hi Molly, thanks for great interview, I wish you’ve got few more minutes for few more questions, but what Bill says is pretty disappointing.

    I think Microsoft is responsible for that crazy era of popups, viruses and porn going through IE6’s holes without any problems. For all that time we couldn’t really use transparent PNGs and validate our pages because of some weird CSS hacks.

    I can see why they were Doing it though:
    1. Billions of dollars in anti virus software industry.
    2. Billions more development hours for the websites = more jobs.
    3. Slowing down the whole industry to get some time to catch up.

    Another point: they really did innovation in IE6 long time ago, but in the way opposite to W3C and Netscape, which I especially don’t like. It’s like using money, power and resources to make it their way (CSS filter property etc). So it’s evil.

    That’s why I really afraid of them becoming heads of W3C there. Things will turn their way and everyone else would have to suffer or learn new standards.

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  18. Just my two cents, but I’m skeptical that Bill Gates’ opinions or ignorance of a particular part of the computer software field have much bearing on what Microsoft will do next. M$ has a lot of very sharp people who seem to have a great deal of independent decision making power in their own fields of research.

    I would be more interested in hearing the same questions posed to a more appropriate member of the M$ leadership team.

  19. You should have asked him if he knows the difference between and .

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  21. Pingback: Justin Hartman » Web Standards

  22. Pingback: Blog Posible » Blog Archive » Lo que está pasando con la futura versión de HTML

  23. Well, by the sounds of things we might be able to expect a new Internet Explorer browser every couple of years. Wouldn’t that be nice. Or maybe even a SP1 for Vista that introduces a CSS2 compliant browser.

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  28. Bonjour,
    juste dire merci à monsieur GATE pour l’innovation de l’informatique et le systeme du courrier electronique qui a facilité le contact mais je veux bien travailler au près de celui-ci pour profiter de son experience merci

  29. Sorry, this does not sound encouraging at all.

  30. In the end, no one questions Bill, simply because he is the top of the ladder. Bill is the man, the richest, the most powerful, and the end of the proverbial questioning road. No one questions bill gates.

  31. Would like to add to the writings in the past that makes more sense in my mental and verbal
    capabilities that it does in my writing or my typing that leaves mucg a huge misinjustice in what am trying to relate to. Sadly and unfortunately I cannot change these past writings that were badly mispelled, there is the stronge meaning that which my typing that poorly misspelled, still follows a trained regiment of ideas and concepts that has very much truth into the missdealings and beleifs and understandings of which is the hell we were put through. Now it is almost 13 years and still there is no justice of any kind of the participants which is unbelievable amount that scales hundreds of different kinds of scientific to educastional to quantum theroy to inovation, developing and to experiments which also books have also been wriiten. this is only the tip of the iceberg of many areas that I cannot even go into. What is certain that 13 years we have stood totally alone.This includes going to New York before the Supreme Court with no lawyer for reasons that many
    lawyers said they could take case along with the itional fee and then later stated they were not able to help us.Didn’t make sense with any of the reason they gave us when at first they stated there was no problem. We could get a court appointed lawyer, let alone to what issues I had to bring forward to them as there was so many and having to give it my best shot . Micrsoft did not even show up and the proof I had on a hard drive as I stated to the ciourt they did not take to review./ This was part of my proof that everything that I stated really happened, there is only so much in ten minutes that any person can say and not being lawyer makes it a very difficult process to put across to the 3 Judges in th Supreme Court in New York. My wife is helping type this letter and being
    in The Who Who in Cambridge University and has lived through all of this hell we’ve through and has remained by my side of so much horror that can’t possibly be put into words because of the amount of frauding to threats to experiments of books written of lost inovations . It is unimaginable of the amounts in areas that it really only scratches the surface.I know there will be a lot of persons reading this because of the persons involved in certain that it is unimagineable that i believe that the percentages that I believe mathimatically of those that read this will know exactly what I am saying, yet mathimatically wise should not be mucha at all if any if this was not such a case that involves many areas and subjects, which involved us, but covered vast areas mentioned by huge amounts of people in the areas where they worked.Pretty soon a book of my writings are to follow or at least follow for I know a lot has been written and it still not the complete truth if any. I would like to show proof to the public in my wrinting proof to back this up.I being a regular ordinary person with great skills in developeing innovating and many other areas to which this is a portion of that my ethics are proven are of the highest standard for it’s the person I am, of the past and the future I promise to those that read this or any other writings, this is my truth and backed by proof that i would never ever change what the past has already proven that I am soundly ethical and a people person,that I will be d….. that 12 years of the past be changed for a minute. Thank you to those that read this and if you wish to email me …..

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  35. thankss Very nice article! Thanks for this!

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