Lost in the noise of the browser wars between Netscape and Microsoft is the less visible, more subtle struggle over the Web's "look and feel"--its standards and specifications. Ground zero is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international industry group that develops common protocols for the Web.
Although it has more than 200 members that include computing's top names--Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, and the two browser rivals--nevertheless the consortium has its detractors. Some developers maintain that it's interested in simply adding bells and whistles to HTML and that it is too reactive to the self-centered efforts of Microsoft, Netscape, and other industry heavies. The W3C defends its decisions and innovations by declaring itself to be an open, vendor-neutral organization that devotes resources to not only Web technology but also to privacy, content ratings, and intellectual property issues.
CNET's special feature examines the history and growing role of this influential organization, using the latest standards brouhaha over dynamic HTML to explain how Web standards are set in stone. Click here to read on.