Wednesday 5 December 2007
Yesterday I was once again honored to have the opportunity to speak directly with Bill Gates at Mix n’ Mash about issues pertaining to standards and the upcoming IE8. Concerned about a lack of forthcoming information to the designer and developer community regarding IE8 and Web standards, I asked Bill if he could, in the spirit of a more open Microsoft, find out what was going on. Here is the transcript of our conversation (with some repairs where the transcriptionist couldn’t hear), along with a photo of the fantastic Mix n’ Mash crew.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: So, I have a little bit of an infrastructure question, as related to MIX and the open conversation and transparency. A few years ago, MIX was a big information and conversation about the opening of ideas, it was about when in the specific we talked about the browser, IE 7, a lot of interest in that, a lot of talking about it. So, for the last year or so, I’ve been working, I’ve been a consultant here with the IE and tools teams to try and help get standards implementation to be strong, and we see some really great advances.
But very recently there seems to be a shift in infrastructure, and I don’t really know exactly what happened, but what I understand, my understanding is that IE sits on the Web platform rather than in the — excuse me, on the platform, on the Windows platform rather than the Web, and something seems to have changed where there is no messaging now for the last six months to a year going out on the IE team. They seem to have lost the transparency that they had been able to get some momentum going on in the IE 7 phase, in the year and a half since MIX06.
So, I’m very concerned about this, because being the person here that’s supposed to be the liaison between designers and developers for the Web and the browser conversation, this conversation seems to have been pretty much shut down, and I’m very concerned as to why that is, and how we can correct it.
BILL GATES: I’ll have to ask Dean what the hell is going on. I mean, we’re not — there’s not like some deep secret about what we’re doing with IE.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: But they’re not letting people talk about it. I do realize that there is a new engine, there is some other information, and this information is not being made public — we are being asked not to talk about it. So, I’m concerned about that.
BILL GATES: I’ll ask Dean what’s going on. I mean, is IE 8 represented at MIX? I assume it is.
JENNIFER RITZINGER: Yes.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: To what extent?
JENNIFER RITZINGER: To be determined
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: So, at MIX08 then?
JENNIFER RITZINGER: There will be disclosure by MIX08.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: By MIX08, then.
JENNIFER RITZINGER: Yes.
BILL GATES: There’s a paradox about disclosure, which is when you’re far away from doing something you’re super open; when you’re very close to doing something you’re open; when you’re making your cut list of what you can do and not do, then particularly because — well —
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: it sets expectations and that causes trouble?
BILL GATES: Yeah, and so I don’t know where Dean is in terms of if he’s willing to commit what’s in IE 8 and what’s not in IE 8. In terms of standards support, he’ll see that it’s a glass half full. It adds a bunch of new stuff we didn’t have before, it doesn’t add everything that everybody wants us to do.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: I mean, really IE 7 made some great advances, so . . .
BILL GATES: No, and believe me, Dean gets this stuff.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Oh, Dean totally gets it, and that’s why I’m concerned, because they have always been so forward facing.
BILL GATES: I’ll look into it.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Yeah, do. It would mean a lot to the design and development communities.
BILL GATES: I mean, I will look into it.
BILL GATES: We do sometimes have MIX — a lot of how the MIX agenda gets set is the tools guys, and we need to make sure the Win — yeah, we have two organizations. I mean, they’re totally complementary, but we should make sure the Windows messages come through in MIX. I know last year the Windows group felt like their messages could have — we could have done an even better job on the Windows related messages, that that didn’t happen. So, we’ll double check that.
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Thank you.
Today, on the IE blog, the now official name of “IE8” has been announced. Before, or by March of this year at MIX, there will be some news I’m sure will be of interest to anyone working with Internet Explorer.