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RE: Version information

From: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 15:38:19 -0700
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
CC: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, "L. David Baron" <dbaron@dbaron.org>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <5C276AFCCD083E4F94BD5C2DA883F05A27D6D61969@tk5-exmlt-w600.wingroup.windeploy.ntdev.microsoft.com>

Maciej Stachowiak [mailto:mjs@apple.com] wrote:
>I think you are conflating the issue of changes in the standard with
>bug-compatibility for past UA bugs. The intent is that HTML6 would
>not make any changes that break web content relative to HTML5, and
>HTML5 tries not to break significant amounts of actual known content
>relative to HTML4.01.
>
>The only way a UA can promise to really never change anything for old
>content is to never fix bugs in older versions of a specification
>after shipping the first implementation.

Indeed.  Unless you require content developers to opt in to that changed-but-correct behavior, which is what the quirks mode switch did.  We will have to expand on that for IE in the future.  The more versioning you put in HTML, the easier this is for us, as we can assume that an HTML5 document wants at least 2008 (guess) behavior.

>Internet Explorer is in a special position with HTML4.01. It has been
>a market leader for a long time, and for many years did not fix
>standards conformance bugs. In the past, Microsoft also actively
>encouraged building MSIE-specific sites. The combination of these
>factors means that a lot of web content depends on MSIE conformance
>bugs and quirks (I should know, I've spent plenty of time reverse-
>engineering them). Even cross-browser content depends on IE quirks
>via browser switches like CSS hacks.

Indeed, and I spent tons of time reverse-engineering Netscape behavior back in the day.  And I expect I'll be traipsing my way through your <canvas> bugs at some point in the future (or something; that's illustrative, not normative).

>One would hope that Microsoft will not repeat these mistakes with
>HTML5 and future versions, but instead would set out on a policy of
>continuously improving standards compliance except where breakage
>would be too extreme, as the other major browsers do.

And that is our plan, except I think perhaps our definitions of "too extreme" differ.  We can't, for example, change the behavior of how we support CSS floats in IE7 without requiring an opt-in, since we would change layout significantly for half the web.*  When we break the web, it's our fault, even when we're breaking it to improve standards compliance.

We (Microsoft) want to and plan to continue to bring our implementation in ever-higher compliance with the standards.  We can't change our behavior for content that exists today, though, so we will have to have content developers opt in.  I'd like to know when someone is creating HTML 5 content, because (just like Quirks mode) that tells me when the last time they looked at the standards was.  Same with HTML 6, etc.

Expect more about this on the IE blog in the near future.

-Chris
*49% of the top 200 US sites were in "strict mode" as of a couple weeks ago.
Received on Friday, 6 April 2007 22:38:26 GMT

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