The IEBlog just posted videos from MIX06 (Microsoft conference in March 2006). I've watched two of the hour-long videos. Here are my take-away summaries.

The videos I checked out were:

The Future Of Internet Explorer

The "Future" talk is mostly a panel discussion and question/answer period on ideas for things that IE should focus on for future releases, including nebulous things like how often should they release. There were a couple interesting suggestions from key web development folks though, here are the paraphrases:

Eric Meyer: The next major version of IE should be the first browser to support all CSS3 Selectors and the CSS3 Backgrounds and Borders module.

Molly Holzschlag on preserving backwards compatibility at the expense of improving standards support: This makes sense for some things, but software will change and web developers have to deal with it, that's what we've signed up for. I agree. But I don't have a million-dollar website to maintain.

Not a lot of tangibles here, but it was an interesting discussion nonetheless.

Microsoft and Web Standards

The Standards talk was more interesting to me. Chris makes some good points about why "open standards" are not always a magic answer, citing "design by committee" as the main reason. It is certainly possible to build a tighter, more focused specification if it's developed internally. But Chris also makes the case that sometimes these proprietary standards can end up becoming "de facto" or even "de jure" standards. Microsoft's XMLHttpRequest object is a good example of this (see this new W3C spec). Heck, so is Netscape's JavaScript actually (see the Ecmascript specification).

Chris ends the lecture period by offering three points to spark the Q&A segment:

  • there are lots of formats that make up the web, not all of them are open
  • open standards have always formed the interoperable core of the web
  • over time interoperable core increases (HTML, XHTML, CSS, XSLT, SVG)

After this, the Q&A period begins, where the first question out of the gate (at approximately 28:00) is "What are your plans for SVG?". Chris' paraphrased response was to the effect that Microsoft does not pre-announce software, though they are becoming more open with communications (I agree). Chris made it clear that they have heard the request many times, that they do think it's becoming an important part of the "interoperable core" of open web standards (as evidenced by his inclusion on the slide). The bottom line: At this time, they cannot state anything other than "not in IE7" (which we already knew).

Now for my guesswork: I do think it's promising that they are currently working on multiple versions of IE and have a long-term roadmap for IE. The message I get from Chris' talk and slides is that Microsoft is committed to supporting open standards, and they consider this important. However, they also see a strong benefit in driving their own proprietary formats for purposes of innovation. In other words, they know they can't get away from open standards, as much as they'd like to.

Thus, if I had to guess: The next major version of IE after Version 7 will support XHTML (application/xhtml+xml) with some form of native support for SVG (at least the 1.1 Tiny profile to be compatible with all the other major browsers). At the same time, this probably won't happen until the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and its "lighter" cousin WPF/E have been released broadly.

A seemingly easy solution in the IE7 timeframe would be to have IE7 bundle the Adobe SVG Viewer with its default install.

Anyway, watch the video and tell me what you think!

§253 · May 4, 2006 · Ajax, Microsoft, Software, SVG, Technology, Web, XML · · [Print]

Leave a Comment to “The Future of Internet Explorer And Web Standards”

  1. Rob says:

    Thanks for the overview, I don’t think I can find the hours to watch it. I think you’re right on the WPF entrenchment before any support for SVG. My guess would be that if they do throw in SVG support at some point, it could just as likely include some “extension” that prevents real cross-platform use. Cynical, I know, but I’ve only got history to look at.