Interview: Microsoft on Web standards

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Abstract

Foolish would be the people who think the subject of Web standards is frozen.
As a proof of this change, the OpenWeb team is happy to present you with this surprise interview of Microsoft on Web standards.

Article

Note: Many thanks to David Rousset David Rousset for making this interview possible.

OpenWeb: You’ve restarted working on IE which is excellent news for OpenWeb. Could you please tell us where Microsoft is in the development process?

David Rousset: Internet Explorer 9 shipped in March 2011 and just four weeks later we announced and released the first platform preview of Internet Explorer 10. The recently released Windows 8 Release Preview also delivered IE10 Platform Preview 6, continuing our cadence of providing developers new standards, functionality to prepare their sites for the next version of Internet Explorer. When IE10 is released for Windows 7 and Windows 8 it will include support for a wide range of CSS3 and HTML5 features and continue the precedent set with IE9 of enabling web applications to do more in the browser and taking advantage of the entire PC to push the performance of website to new levels.

OW: What’s your vision on the current browsers market currently and how Microsoft is working with its competitors?

DR: We fundamentally believe in same markup, allowing developers to write their code once and have that code work across browsers and platforms. Additionally, we continue to contribute test suites to the W3C to advance web standards and achieve our goal of an interoperable web that allows developers to serve the same markup to all browsers.

OW: A couple of months ago, Microsoft has officially communicated on the progressive removal of IE6 for more recent versions. Is this operation a success and is Microsoft planning other type of solutions to boost the adoption of newer versions?

DR: In addition to our efforts with “The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown” – which as of June 2012 has helped move over 20 countries IE6 usage share to under 1% – we announced and began automatically updating Internet Explorer (IE) users to the latest version of IE available for their version of Windows. This includes auto-updating IE8 and IE7 users on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7 to IE9 as well as auto-updating IE6 and IE7 users on Windows XP to IE8.

OW: How Microsoft is handling the difficult exercise to target both the consumer and the enterprise segments with the same product?

DR: With IE10 on Windows 8, we offer users great flexibility whether they are consumers, enterprise users or system administrators.

Internet Explorer’s inclusion of two browsing styles, utilizing the same underlying engine, allows IE10 to address a number of work styles and hardware scenarios. Metro-style Internet Explorer 10 provides an unmatched set of capabilities for touch and chromeless browsing, while IE10 on the Windows 8 desktop offers users a browsing experience that is familiar and aides enterprise productivity.

Finally, IE10 continues Internet Explorer’s commitment to being the most manageable browser. Featuring a robust set of tools for system administrators to customize, deploy and manage Internet Explorer as well as the inclusion of “Compatibly View,” which includes legacy support for IE7, IE8, IE9 and Quirks mode. Allowing administrators to confidently deploy Internet Explorer 10 and ensure internal sites and applications will continue to function.

OW: Microsoft is working on a variety of markets and is then contributing to various standards. What are your industrial priorities in regards to standardization?

DR: Our web standards priority is that the industry works together through forums like the W3C to develop robust and complete standards that developers can implement in their sites and be assured those standards will work across a variety of browsers.

OW: You’ve recently delivered a conference on HTML5 & Windows 8. Has HTML5 a key role in the future of Microsoft and if so, could you share it with us?

DR: Developers who have been working with HTML5 on the web have been able to create highly-interactive games and other applications that showcase the potential of HTML5. At Microsoft we realize that potential, as well as the potential of HTML5 to open up application development to an entire new class of developers with Windows 8. On Windows 8 applications will be able to utilize the same HTML/CSS/JavaScript engine as Internet Explorer 10; developers will be to take the skills and knowledge they have today of HTML and apply that knowledge to build Windows 8 applications. At the same time, we have made the Windows 8 development model flexible, allowing applications to also be written in C#, Visual Basic and C++.

OW: Could the Grid Layout specification become a W3C recommendation? If so, what will you do with the –ms vendor prefix? In a more general manner, what is the Microsoft position on the vendor prefixes?

DR: Recently in conjunction with the release of IE10 PP6 we provided an in-depth look at moving standards from experimental to stable and removing vendor prefixes.

OW: Inside OpenWeb, we’ve been identifying the risks of non-respecting standards since a long time now. Has the Microsoft culture changed on this topic? Don’t you think that some of your competitors are currently making the same kind of mistakes already done in the past?

DR: At Microsoft we are most interested in putting the developer and users of Internet Explorer first, only delivering standards that are stable and ready for broad adoption. We call such standards “site-ready” and offered a more complete look at what it means to be site ready in this blog post, which was posted during the IE9 development cycle. We are most interested in providing a stable platform for the web and to achieve that we build test suites, participate in the W3C and work to deliver specifications that advance the concept of same mark-up across the web.

OW: In a near future (post IE10), is Microsoft planning to use a rapid development cycle like the other browsers and/or thinking about other options? (Silent updates, “minor” versions with new features, etc.). In summary, what should we expect for the next versions if it’s not too secret of course?

DR: We have nothing to share at this time regarding future versions of Internet Explorer.

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