Microsoft sabotaging CSS too?

Important note: In this blog, I speak on behalf of myself and myself alone. I am not involved in W3C activities at Opera, as my work is mainly outside the area of standards. For official statements from Opera Software ASA, please get in touch with our PR contacts or read our press releases. With that out of the way…

I have previously written about how there are signs that Microsoft may be trying to sabotage the EcmaScript 4 standard by using various dishonest tactics, such as misinformation and stalling. Imagine my surprise when, even at a time when it is under investigation for anti-competitive practices, Microsoft may be actively working to slow down the progress of other standards as well. …

In a rare glimpse into the non-public part of the CSS process, a technical issue was moved to the public "www-style" mailing list. What it seems to reveal is quite disturbing (emphasis mine):

I fully understand why it has been suggested that Microsoft may in fact be purely acting in a manner to slow down the group and the development of the CSS platform — it seems easy to come to the conclusion that you change your arguments every other month to counter whatever proposal is put forward.

Is this really what goes on behind closed doors? Is part of the CSS process being kept private to protect certain people or organizations?

As someone who would expect processes for open standards to actually be open, this does not make sense to me. Surely, there must be some kind of misunderstanding here? Surely there must be a good reason to keep things private beyond protecting a commercial entity from public scrutiny?

Unfortunately, L. David Baron of the Mozilla Corporation seems to confirm that there is something troubling going on behind closed doors. He left the private mailing list just a few days ago, and this is some of what he had to say (again, emphasis mine):

I believe the member-confidential nature of the group hurts the future development of CSS by making the group (…) get mired in debates and stalling tactics that companies would not be comfortable using in public.

He may of course be referring to someone else, but then again, Daniel Glazman has a blog post with a telling title which links to Baron's announcement above: "Mozilla, CSS WG, Microsoft"

It seems clear to me that his departure from the private mailing lists was triggered by Microsoft's actions, namely their constant attempts to undermine and sabotage open standards, and thus competition in the market.

Update: While there are certainly people at Microsoft who do care about standards, the management with their overall strategy for the company ultimately calls the shots. As Daniel Glazman himself points out in a recent blog post: "They do their best to represent their company's interests"

I personally understand why the company I work for chose to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to deal with Microsoft's anti-competitive practices by contributing to an antitrust process that is already underway here in Europe. Do you?

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10 thoughts on “Microsoft sabotaging CSS too?

  1. I don't know much about who we've talked to about this, but I don't think Mozilla has made any official statements yet.

  2. so do mozilla officially support Opera's complaint? If not, why not if there seems to be evidence that MS is hindering the process of developing and implementing standards?

  3. Daniel Glazman writes:"Mozilla's Daniel Glazman" ? Since when am I affiliated with Mozilla. I am running my own company, Disruptive Innovations, and am not affiliated with Mozilla in any way. I am asking you to fix your article please.

  4. Anonymous writes:

    Daniel: Then you should probably get this one altered: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_GlazmanDaniel Glazman announced on September 15, 2006 that he has stopped official development on Nvu and he is developing a successor to it, tentatively called Composer (or Mozilla Composer 2.0), as a Mozilla.org project.It does make it sound like you are affiliated 🙂

  5. j8nny writes:

    Uagh, freaky. A blog that refers to blogs that are replies to itself!TBH, I wouldn't trust Microsoft with anything. Recently we lost a rather high profile client so they can get another Silverlight showcase. (them and their large bags of moneys :()I realize that the Silverlight and IE teams are separate, but seriously? How am I supposed to trust Microsoft with these standards if they're pushing that?

  6. Re: Anonymous @10:18:23: No, mozilla.org projects do *not* need to be managed by employees of any particular company or organization, including the Mozilla Foundation or a subsidiary. You perhaps meant to say this but left out a "not"?/be

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