Archive for April, 2009

“IE must comply with web standards.” (Opera has suggested that Microsoft must support web standards they have promised to support).

April 9th, 2009

This potential principle has received the most criticism from the Mozilla community to date; there appears to be little support for this principle as a basis from legal requirements from the EC.  This is quite different from agreeing that:

  • Microsoft *should* implement critical web standards; and that
  • the web has been, and continues to be, held back by the lack of good standards support in IE.

In fact, the ongoing drag on the web’s functionality caused by IE’s limitations remains an enormous problem.  We agree on the problem.

The concern is that regulating compliance with standards is fraught with negative side effects and it’s hard to see how to avoid them.  To start with, the standards in question would need to be identified.  Opera points out that Microsoft has itself identified some standards but having Microsoft determine the standards doesn’t serve as a long term solution.  Second, this principle would put enormous stress on the standards-setting process.  This process is difficult in any case, with a variety of different players trying to agree on technical direction and specification.  If Microsoft is legally required to implement a specification, then it is hard to see the process ever coming to a conclusion.  Third, there is the question of how one determines compliance with a standard.  Implementations almost always have bugs, some are serious, some are in the nature of the process.  Someone would need to test and evaluate.  Setting that up is complex and may well be a bad precedent.

Principle 6: Microsoft tools for developing content must not produce IE specific or Windows-specific results.

April 8th, 2009

Over 90% of the personal computer operating systems in the world are Windows.  As a result, application developers often use Microsoft tools to help write programs that work with Windows, and with related technologies or products that are integrated or often used with Windows.  Microsoft has a history of using its tools to lock out other products. For example, Microsoft web development tools  have often resulted in code that only works with IE.  The application developers may or may not even be aware of this.  They use a convenient tool provided by the operating system vendor, and end up helping extend the operating system monopoly to other products.

Examples of  tools to which this principle would apply include Microsoft Expression Web and Microsoft Office Sharepoint.  One might also include Silverlight and related development tools, or tools that do things such as embed MS Office documents in web pages.

This principle asserts that Microsoft cannot cause web or application developers to create IE-specific content by default.

São Paulo Meetup on April 18

April 8th, 2009

I will be heading back to Brazil very shortly. From April 14 to 16 I will be in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the World Economic Forum on Latin America, and after that I will head to São Paulo to connect with our Latin American community.

On April 17 I’ll be visiting a LAN house with Bruno Magrani, who works with our Portuguese-speaking community, as well as Guillermo Movia, who works with our Spanish-speaking community members. April 18 will be devoted to a day-long meeting with Mozilla’s Latin American community leaders on the general direction of the Mozilla Project in Latin America, the individual projects people have been working on, and probably some strategizing for FISL. I’m  looking forward to these discussions immensely and to catching up again with some of the folks I met last year.

I’m also very interested to meet new contributors to Mozilla and those interested in creating an open, participatory web whether or not Mozilla has been your focus.  If you are interested in attending this meeting in São Paolo, please contact Bruno (bmagrani at mozilla dot com) or Alix Franquet (alix at mozilla dot com).

EC Principle 5: Microsoft must educate people about other browsers

April 7th, 2009

One of the results of the Windows / IE integration is that millions of people believe that the “blue e” icon IS the Internet.  They are unaware of of Microsoft’s control over their online lives through this blue “e” or that they have additional choices.  This principle asserts that Microsoft should participate in correcting the misconception that it has created.  The monopoly of Windows and Microsoft in people’s computer experience means there is no other entity that can substitute for Microsoft here.

Mozilla has done an amazing job at educating some people about this.  We do this through community and word of mouth.  But Mozilla’s ability to reach some portion of people is not remotely the same as Microsoft’s ability to reach everyone.  Microsoft touches every single person who starts up a PC and touches those people, over and over and over again.

There are a number of ways in which this principle could be implemented.  Some could involve providing information about other browsers in Windows, which are included in principle 3.    There are certainly options beyond Windows, which is why I’ve made this a separate principle.

In the past the EC has levied fines against Microsoft.   A number of people have suggested that these fines could / should be used to educate people about their ability to have some control over their browser and resulting Internet experience.  I don’t know what kinds of structures EU law would impose on how this can be done.  So it’s possible this is something the regulatory structure doesn’t allow.

Back from silence

April 7th, 2009

I’ve been traveling and on vacation the last couple of weeks and so have been silent here. There are a couple more posts about the EC I want to turn to, interspersed with some other topics.

As to the EC, the potential principles I haven’t yet addressed are below. In addition, I want to address why I believe there are significant competitive issues even though Firefox is gaining marketshare.

  • Microsoft must educate people about other browsers (or fines levied against Microsoft should be used to support open source projects and education).
  • Microsoft tools for developing content must not produce IE specific or Windows-specific results.
  • IE must comply with web standards. (Opera has suggested that Microsoft must support web standards they have promised to support).

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