I’m a web designer and developer who has been working with a variety of tools and languages in the web development industry for about 10 years now, mostly working in areas related to front-end coding. Although I’ve spent a lot of time with you and your various technologies, I feel obligated to tell you that you missed the boat. Allow me to explain what I mean.
About 9 years ago you released what was at the time the most standards-compliant web browser in existence, for which you even had the backing of Jeffrey Zeldman. Around that time, you were taking the browser market by the collar and showing it who’s boss. At one point, as you know, your browser held a 95% market share.
Web designers and developers around the world started to make their voices heard in the community, writing articles, tutorials, and releasing scripts, frameworks, libraries, apps, and tools that would help designers and developers create beautiful, fast-loading, standards-compliant web sites.
Over the years, while your formerly-cutting-edge browser collected dust on developers’ desktops, those same developers found solace elsewhere. They found an open source community that was interested in helping them in the aforementioned areas, a community that listened when developers expressed concern, and made adjustments accordingly. When it was all said and done these web professionals had the tools they needed. To this day those tools continue to improve. All of this without an ounce of help from you.
Because of your huge following and commercial influence, you had the opportunity to enlist the help of “standardistas” and open source proponents everywhere. You had the opportunity to help develop and promote script-debugging tools, CSS frameworks, and standards-based coding habits. But instead, you chose to stick to your slow, complicated, and mostly impractical proprietary “filters” (I still don’t know why you call them that), while continuing to pour more time and money into a decidedly uninteresting and anti-standards weird back-end framework.
Strangely, only in the past year or two have you shown yourself interested in the goings-on of the world of web standards. I especially had to laugh when I saw this article on your developer blog which had a link to Jeffrey Zeldman’s website (twice) and even referenced the too-hip-for-you Dribbble. It would be great if you were cool enough to get away with talking about those sites.
But unfortunately, you’ve sat around for 8+ years trying to figure out how to make your next million, when all you needed was a little bit of honesty, a little bit of integrity, and a little bit of willingness to help the community move forward. With your immense influence, it’s disappointing that you didn’t realize this sooner. I guess all the fame and fortune blinded you to the real opportunities.
Now you’ve released a pretty good browser in IE8 — but it’s still too slow. After all these years, you’d think you would have learned how to get a script to load efficiently, or how to get a tab to open without waiting a half century. And don’t even get me started on security vulnerabilities. Now all of a sudden you’re talking about IE9 — but it’s probably going to be a year before that version sees the light of day. So sad.
You had your chance, Microsoft, and you blew it. There are enough browser makers now that care about the user experience, that care about the developer experience, and that realize what’s important in this community. Even if you did everything right from now on, there’s no amount of promotion, branding, or mock integrity that can change how developers perceive your products. It’s too late.
Microsoft, you missed the boat.
A Former Client