06.29.09

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Microsoft’s Assault on the Web, Rival Web Browsers, and HTML

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Microsoft, Standard at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Predator on the Web

Summary: Microsoft uses aggressive, dishonest marketing to promote proprietary software that interferes with standards

Microsoft has gone very aggressive in its fight against all Web browsers other than its own [1, 2, 3]. It is a repetition of “Get the Facts” as applied to Web browsers, not operating systems. As Savio Rodrigues puts it:

But this comparison table treats me like a moron, especially when you consider that I’m using Firefox and have pre-existing views on many items on the comparison table. Only IE8 gets a check for security, privacy, and ease of use? Really? At a minimum, Microsoft should have used Harvey Balls to show that the competitors have capabilities, which may not be as strong as IE8. Microsoft could have posted videos that show how easy it is to carry out a common task in IE8 and compare it to Firefox with the relevant add-on installed.

This actually begs for the story about Microsoft "sabotaging" Firefox to be brought up again [1, 2]. Here is how Microsoft’s ‘malware’ can be removed from Firefox.

Several journalists have independently been complaining that IE8 causes them great trouble. From the past week in the press we gather:

i. Thinking about upgrading to IE8? Think twice

For example: One day last month Cringester D. L. discovered when he logged onto the Net, he couldn’t get to his e-mail or view Web pages. He then enjoyed several quality hours on the phone with Dell tech support, which determined the cause: His daughter had clicked a button and updated the browser to IE8 without telling him. The support tech logged onto his computer remotely and downgraded it to IE7. Problems solved.

ii. Collateral Damage & The Browser Wars

After I downloaded IE8 two weeks ago, my Sony audio programs got hung up and wouldn’t load. When I went to the Microsoft and Sony sites and found no help, I decided I didn’t need nuanced improvements to my web surfing, and did a system restore. Oops. Then IEx wouldn’t run at all. Somehow, the update had destabilized somethingoranother. I was out of luck.

iii. Microsoft IE8 Hype Is Beyond Belief

Internet Explorer 8 is a very good browser, especially when compared to IE7 and (ugh) IE6. However, it still lags behind most of the other browsers in both performance and standards compliance. That doesn’t seem to bother Microsoft, which has been pushing IE8 using hype that they rarely use even for Windows or Office.

[...]

There is no way that Microsoft can claim anything close to parity with standards compliance of the other major browsers. For example, IE8 retains a non-standard event model that does not get anywhere close to the W3C standard published in 2000. Just a few examples: Form elements don’t bubble events. There is a global event object instead of an event argument passed to the handler. Rather than document.addEventListener, IE uses the non-standard document.attachEvent method.

As the following new article shows, Microsoft lied to the court about IE being impossible to remove from Windows. Microsoft was too busy ‘extending’ the Web in order to turn it into another vector of operating system lock-in. Nothing has changed since. Last week we showed that this serious violation came from Bill Gates himself. He wanted to make E-mail and Web pages dependent on Microsoft Office. People are still furious over this, but Microsoft is ignoring their pleas. From the news:

i. Microsoft, Outlook Is Broken, Says 6,000 Tweets (And Growing). Fix It.

While it is pretty much the standard email client, Microsoft Outlook has long had problems rendering HTML correctly in emails. And the latest version, Outlook 2010, due sometime in the next several months, doesn’t look like it’s going to be any better — and it actually may be worse. And a lot of users aren’t happy about it at all.

ii. Microsoft misses the Outlook point

Continuing a decision made in 2007 to render HTML with Word in Outlook, Microsoft confirmed that Outlook 2010 will also use Word. In response to this decision, the fixoutlook.org campaign was created in an attempt to change Microsoft’s mind.

iii. Microsoft rebuffs Twitter protest over Outlook’s rendering of HTML e-mails

Showing again the power of Twitter for quick social organizing, Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday was forced to defend itself against complaints that its market-leading Outlook e-mail program wreaks havoc on rich-HTML e-mails.

Outlook 2007 and the upcoming Outlook 2010′s use of Microsoft Word to display rich HTML content is to blame, according to blog posts by Dave Greiner, the Sydney, Australia-based organizer of the protest.

iv. Microsoft shows once again how it doesn’t listen

There’s been a lot buzz on Twitter about a movement to try and get Microsoft to backtrack on its decision to use the Word rendering engine for HTML based email in Outlook. So far some 22,000 plus Twitterers have heeded the call and visited fixoutlook.org to register their vote on this.

Antitrust regulators should grill Microsoft over it. The motives are crystal clear and they are anti-competitive. Even E-mails that were standards-based (and intended to be a commodity) are being subverted by Microsoft, which deliberately reduces interoperability between mail clients and across operating systems.

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

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