08 August 2006

Microsoft's Gift to Firefox

Firefox has been incredibly lucky. It has taken Microsoft an extraordinary amount of time to face up to the challenge this free browser represents, during which Firefox has notched up a serious market share that won't be going away any time soon.

However, my great fear was that once Internet Explorer 7 came out, the appeal of Firefox to people who wanted a stable, standards-based browser would diminish considerably. After all, good enough is generally good enough, and surely, I thought, Microsoft will get this one right, and produce what's necessary?

If this report is anything to go by, it seems not.

Incredibly, Microsoft will not be supporting fully the Cascading Style Sheet 2 (CSS 2) standard. As the story explains:

The most critical point in Wilson's post, in my mind, is Microsoft's admission that it will fail the crucial Acid2 browser-compliance test , which the Web Standards Project (WaSP) designed to help browser vendors ensure that their products properly support Web standards. Microsoft apparently disagrees. "Acid2 ... is pointedly not a compliance check," Wilson noted, contradicting the description on the Acid2 Web site. "As a wish list, [Acid2] is really important and useful to my team, but it isn't even intended, in my understanding, as our priority list for IE 7.0." Meanwhile, other browser teams have made significant efforts to comply with Acid2.

If you look at the CSS 2 standard, you'll note that it became a recommendation over eight years ago. And yet Microsoft is still not close to implementing it fully, unlike other browsers. Even if you argue that CSS 2 is only of interest to advanced coders, or at best a standard for the future, it is nonetheless a key test of a browser development team's attitudes and priorities.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Firefox: provided it continues to support standards better than Microsoft - and this now looks likely - it will occupy the high ground with all that this implies in terms of continuing to attract users and designers. Thanks, Microsoft.


Anonymous said...

Just a visualization of the current trend - http://www.milliondollarhosting.net/upload/30735_footer.jpg (Firefox Eats IE)

Glyn Moody said...


JamesTyrrell said...

With all due kudos to Firefox (the only browser I choose to use) it has to be said that while it is a lot more standards compliant it also fails the Acid2 test.

Just for informations sake the Wikipedia has a list of all the major browsers and their screenshots of the Acid2 page.

Glyn Moody said...

Thanks - and in fact I said I spoke of Firefox supporting standards better than Microsoft, not perfectly. But I take your point.