This is a great day for open standards. Microsoft has changed its mind regarding the default mode in IE8.
And while this is a huge win for the internet community, it is also a vindication for an small browser company in Norway, which, at times, faced harsh criticism for getting the authorities involved in order to enforce open Web standards. …
This quote from Microsoft's official press release on their reversal on Standards Mode as default in IE8 is very telling if you want to understand the basis of Microsoft's decision (emphasis mine):
While we do not believe there are currently any legal requirements that would dictate which rendering mode must be chosen as the default for a given browser, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue
Just a few days ago, Microsoft was hit with a €899 million fine by EU for its failure to comply with an antitrust ruling from nearly four years ago. The above quote must be seen in light of this fine, and how Microsoft clearly wants to avoid such fines in the future.
I can't claim that Opera was entirely selfless when it decided to complain to the EU about Microsoft's violations of open standards. Open standards are, after all, the company's bread and butter. Open standards are crucial to Opera's business model. But the move was not entirely uncontroversial, and some doubted that even trying to get the government involved was going to work, or if it was even desirable.
Now Microsoft has changed its mind, and commentaries – ranging from people like Eric Meyer to journalists at CNET – have made the connection between Microsoft's reversal on open standards, and Opera's decision to get the authorities involved.
Opera obviously can't take all the credit. The internet community got heavily involved, and helped push the giant in the right direction. Many brilliant minds formulated excellent rebuttals to Microsoft's arguments, which no doubt made the decision to support open standards easier for the software giant.
The question now is: Will Microsoft finally deliver on its promises? They have been broken som many times in the past. But I am optimistic for once. This time, Microsoft has a very powerful incentive to do it.
It's all about the money.