Now, I'm gonna get ripped a new one by people smoking whatever Paul was on, but I don't care. I'm trying to have a discussion about an idea. Maybe it's a discussion that can take place without vulgarity... but I doubt it.
All the coverage of Paul's whining this week got me thinking about the concept of standards in technology. Too many times, I think people forget about the reason "standards" exist in the firstplace. They are there to make life easier for computer users. NOT GEEKS. Maybe 1% of the computer-using population is technologically-savvy enough to be able to write a standard in the first place. Why are there standards for wireless networking? Because people don't want 80 different incompatible technologies. What is the one company that probably has the most influence over the standards process in wireless networking? Probably Cisco. Maybe Intel. Between Cisco and their Linksys division, these guys sell a lot of wireless products. Many of their innovations become industry standards over time.
So, what if a company makes a standard, and no one else shows up to support it. Is it still a standard? When does reach make an idea a de-facto standard? You could argue that because IE has by far the highest market share among average computer users, it's features set the standard among web browsers, based solely on reach. I don't want to hear the argument that "Microsoft illegally bundled the browser with Windows, and that's the only reason they got market share", because it's just an excuse. There were just as many choices back then as there are today.
Back in the IE6 days, Microsoft came up with some new ideas about browsers. It was their product, so they didn't need any kind of approval from anyone to put it in there. Microsoft was on top of the world back then. They thought they could do whatever they wanted. But that wasn't the case. The browser wars, hostile takeovers, and a focus on the technology itself and not the people it affected, created a lot of ill-will in the industry. That ill-will combined with Microsoft's (perceived or real) lack of concern for his customers, created the "Standards Stand-Off" that we've dealt with today. It's a pissing match between the former bully and the people that were once bullied. (For the most part... I'm not talking about you WaSP, I'm talking about the zealots who are still firmly entrenched in their camps).
So the purpose of web standards is to make it so that the other 99% of web users who don't know or care what RAM is can use whatever browser they want, and get a predictable experience. Microsoft's implementation of CSS is no different than Linksys' implementation of their new SecureEasySetup button for WiFi routers. For better or worse, it's their interpretation of they way they want things to be. The Acid2 test is a test of how other browsers perform as a group of individuals would like them to be. And that's also fine. Microsoft has proven before that it doesn't have to listen to WaSP to achieve an overpowering market dominance.
Paul and others don't get the fact that their gerrymandering doesn't help the situation any. Microsoft WANTS to work with the standards people now. They understand that it's not about what Microsoft wants, it's about what END USERS want. Further, Paul still doesn't get, and has not responded to, the BUSINESS reason IE7 can't fix everything because of compatibility. If I spent money trying to implement Microsoft's old "my-way-or-the-highway" approach, which pissed me off enough already, and then broke my stuff AGAIN now that they want to play nice, don't you think I'd be even more pissed? It's easy to throw out the old code and force people to write new code. It's even more difficult to make software do new things while still perserving (where possible) the hacks that made old stuff work too.
Microsoft can't undo the fact that they screwed up 5 years ago. For all the power they have in the industry, they can't change the past. Maybe MSR is coming up with a time machine, I dunno. But Paul's trying to accomplish the same thing by giving Microsoft an inaccurate and unwarranted headache over a non-issue. He's trying to piss Microsoft off to the point that they give up and go back to the way things were. Staying the way you are is easy... it's the change that's difficult. Microsoft is making inroads and wants to work with people who have ideas on the way things should be. It may not be perfect, but its a start.
I'm not saying we have to have a big group hug over the whole things and declare the browser wars over. Lets just get back to the idea that differenciation between products can be a good thing... a sign of healthy competition. Just like I am more likely to buy Linksys cause I can push a button and set up wireless security... can't to that with DLink. Maybe DLink will come up with something better. Ahh... the wonders of a market-driven economy.
Really guys. Stop getting butthurt about it. As developers and influentials, we need to grow up and start doing what's best for the other 99% of computer users out there.
And Paul, since you didn't even give me the courtsey of responding directly through the precious hyperlinks you work so hard to protect (even Scoble links to people who think he's an idiot), I have a final thought for you. The real point of my last post on this subject was this: your precious "hardly hacked because it's not even out of diapers yet, let alone potty trained" Firefox browser doesn't even have a clue when it will pass Acid2. Saying you support something and actually supporting something are two totally different things. If your newly corporate browser backed up what it said with action and a defined timeline, you might have had some credibility. But your response was childish and immature. Whatever the sheen you put on the outside, as you explain it, your response really meant "You should have listened to me 8 years ago, and you're still not listening, so screw you." And now you and John C. Dvorak have your own secret handshake for the "irrelevant hacks" club.
Hope the membership card gives you a discount at the local Sizzler.