Why XHTML Can Save Internet Explorer

by Kurt Cagle

I had an opportunity about a month ago to work with the Microsoft Internet Explorer team to help improve the browser. It was an extraordinarily tempting offer, and it was largely due to family pressures on my part that I reluctantly decided that it was just not possible to do it. The interview was exciting, I had a chance to talk first hand to a number of senior people with the team, and it has left me with a considerably changed impression of both Microsoft and their developers' aspirations in producing the best product possible. If circumstances has been a little different (if I hadn't moved to Canada late last year) then I suspect this would have been a Microsoft post you'd be reading now.

One thing that I realized, however, was that the Internet Explorer team has an amazing opportunity if they seize it now. Through a number of circumstances, one piece of technology that was never incorporated into the IE browser was a module capable of handling XHTML. Now, this may seem to be a fairly trivial omission - XHTML isn't exactly blazing through the commercial sky yet as a must have technology (though its getting there) - but I've come to believe that in fact XHTML may be the key to one of the biggest problems that they face with IE - the problem of vendor legacy.


10 Comments


2006-05-11 14:23:06
all my pages look good in firefox
M. David Peterson
2006-05-11 16:49:11
Hey Kurt,


I must admit, it was a very sad day for me when you told me the final outcome of the decision process that ultimately led to being unable to take this position. I think I can speak for a lot of folks when I state that the thought of you involved with the development of the next generation of browser technology @MS held the potential to turn even the hardest of Anti-MS/IE hearts, soft and mushy at the thought of what the result might be.


None-the-less, opportunities to make a difference still exist... Glad to see you are taking these opportunities as they make themselves known. :D


I'll be around for another couple of hours. Ping me on IM if you're around...

M. David Peterson
2006-05-11 16:51:25
Anonynous,


As do mine... None-the-less, Fx is still the minority browser among non-geeks, and the thought of Kurt @ MS making life for the other 80% of the web users that much better ...


Well, I guess it's a long-since-past pipe dream at this stage...

Cristian Vat
2006-05-13 16:03:01
They should really change something in IE, but I don't think they're interested yet.
Who would be interested if they still have the majority of the browser market?
Still..in response to David...it's a minority browser among non-geeks, but geeks as you say are usually people with a lot of expertise in technical areas and people which can make certain technical decisions. I think having smart and powerfull in terms of decision-making on their side would be good.
Asbjørn Ulsberg
2006-05-15 03:14:27
I completely agree with you in this, but I would like to underscore that "XHTML support" in Internet Explorer really means support for the "application/xhtml+xml" Content-Type. Switching rendering mode for XHTML served as "text/html" may cause a lot of problems, since people have been accustomed to serving XHTML 1.0 Transitional to IE, thinking it is proper XHTML, but still writing old-style (and bad) CSS for it.


I'd also like to mention that Anne van Kesteren wrote about this almost two years ago: http://annevankesteren.nl/2004/06/standard-compliant-ie

Sam Sethi
2006-05-16 14:44:16
Kurt I think you miss one crucial reason why IE must and will support XHTML fully. Microformats. Ray Ozzie recently demo'd LiveClipboard an application that I am sure will see itself in a future release of IE which enables the discovery and transfer of microformats. This combined with SSE - simple sharing extensions - will form the first version of the Semantic Web without all the complexity of XML/RDF triples. Equally XHTML-MP for mobile devices such as Mobile 5.0 will make it easy for developers to write and render to multiple platforms especially when combined with CSS and Javascript support.
Mark Birbeck
2006-07-28 12:34:04
As usual, very interesting Kurt!


(If you're wondering why I'm posting so late in the day, I've only just had your article pointed out to me by T. V. Raman.)


I started writing a post, and then it got so long that I nipped over to my blog and wrote it there.


The main point I look at is that given that XHTML could be a powerful web application language, would this actually be a reason for Microsoft not to support XHTML (because of XAML), or could it be a reason to drop XAML, and instead accept that the open standards argument is increasingly being won.


I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this, especially since if you are right in your argument, then it seems to me that the logic leads further, to the support of XHTML 2! (The rationale being that if you're not worried about the 'legacy' why not jump straight to the newest, shiniest, thing?)


All the best,


Mark



Mark Birbeck
CEO
x-port.net Ltd.

Roger Huston
2006-11-14 19:44:12
You would think that the MSN Search people would be beating down the doors of the IE people. Search engines are pushing people to XHTML so that they can read and index websites.


intelligibility Bournemouth
2007-03-15 04:45:50
I had an opportunity about a month ago to work with the Microsoft Internet Explorer team to help improve the browser. It was an extraordinarily tempting offer, and it was largely due to family pressures on my part that I reluctantly decided that it was just not possible to do it. The interview was exciting, I had a chance to talk first hand to a number of senior people with the team, and it has left me with a considerably changed impression of both Microsoft and their developers’ aspirations in producing the best product possible. If circumstances has been a little different (if I hadn’t moved to Canada late last year) then I suspect this would have been a Microsoft post you’d be reading now.
I do not agree. Go to http://www.getjobz.info/ejaculation_United%20Kingdom/sere_England/intelligibility_Bournemouth_1.html
webdev
2007-11-26 10:47:23
Microsoft is actively pushing Silverlight instead of XHTML/SVG. The two are in direct competition for web application development.


XHTML/SVG is a great logical evolution of the current HTML/CSS/JS standard. However, Microsoft is pushing a completely different direction with Silverlight.


They are intentionally not supporting XHTML so that it doesn't gain traction.


Why would XHTML save IE? That doesn't make any sense at all.