In his blog, Jeffrey Zeldman defends version targeting. As most people probably know by now, there is a proposal out there which involves IE8 basically requiring that you opt-in to its standards compliance. Needless to say, most people think this is a really, really bad idea. Apart from Zeldman's attempt at dismissing criticism as "ingrained dislike of Microsoft", something else really caught my eye. …
He writes (emphasis mine):
By contrast, the many developers who don’t understand or care about web standards, and who only test their CSS and scripts in the latest version of IE, won’t opt in, so their stuff will render in IE8 the same way it rendered in IE7.
That sounds bad, but it’s actually good, because it means that their "IE7-tested" sites won’t "break" in IE8. Therefore their clients won’t scream. Therefore Microsoft won’t be inundated with complaints which, in the hands of the wrong director of marketing, could lead to the firing of standards-oriented browser engineers on the IE team. The wholesale firing of standards-oriented developers would jerk IE off the web standards path just when it has achieved sure footing. And if IE were to abandon standards, accessible, standards-compliant design would no longer have a chance. Standards only work when all browsers support them. That IE has the largest market share simply heightens the stakes.
What he is basically saying is that if the market doesn't accept Microsoft's terms unconditionally (it's take it or leave it, folks!), Microsoft could simply lock down IE tight and halt all standards development. It will use its larges market share to basically kill any further progress on open standards in IE8.
Is this something Microsoft has actually threatened to do if the market does not bow down to its command, or is it a scenario he finds likely even if Microsoft hasn't actually said so?
Regardless of whether this is merely an argument Zeldman invented to strengthen an otherwise weak case or an actual threat from Microsoft, I think I can say that even the possibility of such actions by the company would be of great interest to the EU during its antitrust investigation.
Engaging in blatantly anti-competitive practices during an antitrust investigation? Even Microsoft cannot be this careless, surely?