Microsoft may self-proclaim IE a 'standard'

Internet Explorer is less compliant with JavaScript standards than most browsers. Does Microsoft have a duty to conform?

"No man is an island, entire of itself," wrote poet John Donne. But Microsoft apparently doesn't like poetry.

The company is currently mulling over whether to get in line with JavaScript standards for Internet Explorer, or whether to go it alone and crown itself a standard.

This is particularly tricky since every browser implements the JavaScript standard in different ways. So, the problem isn't exclusive to Microsoft.

It's more nettlesome with Microsoft, however, given its dominant browser market share. In some ways, it already is a standard unto itself. But I'm not sure the industry is ready for Microsoft to veer from the quasi-beaten path. According to an article posted Thursday on The Register:

Microsoft's browser is renowned as being a basket case on standards compliance, being less compliant than other leading standards in recent years according to the group monitoring this issue--The Web Standards Project (WASP).

Earlier this year, Microsoft went as far as to suggest it might give up even trying to maintain standards compatibility and turn the whole standards issue on its head by devising a "compatible with IE" scheme for the next version of Explorer.

It wouldn't be the first time, and likely won't be the last. But it would be nice to have Microsoft document where it diverges from the standards and communicate those back into the standard itself. Ultimately, I think it's good for Microsoft to conform to JavaScript standards.

But then, it would also be nice for Safari, Firefox, Opera, etc. to conform. Should Microsoft take the first step?

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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