Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Different Standards: Opera Vs IE7 In Court

Update: Ironic, but just after I hit the submit on this post, I heard about IE8 passing the ACID2 Test. May be IE is finally following the standards... Opera doesn't need to worry, if IE8 is shown to EU

Last week when Opera filed the antitrust complaint with the EU, I wondered if Opera was going the same route as Netscape. We all know Netscape couldn't do much about the unbundling of Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows and Microsoft is still very adamant that it wants IE in Windows. Then, what's new with Opera's rants on IE ?? OperaVsIE

Opera's statement speaks something different than Netscape. Opera said, "We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them". Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. The complaint calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious "Embrace, Extend and Extinguish" strategy.

This means that Opera wants EU to tell Microsoft that they need to comply to the standards, so that everyone can see the same web. Currently, most web developers want to adhere to the standards, but due to IE having the largest market share, when something breaks due to IE, we have to care more about it than it breaking something else. Thus, Opera has rightly said that by breaking standards, IE is keeping its market share. People use IE because other browsers suck at displaying pages that are built for the only-IE.

To have a look at how broken IE actually is, look at this page from webdevout. The DOM & CSS state of IE is completely insane and I'm amazed how Microsoft has put up with it. Even with IE7 being released about 5 years after IE6, very little improved. CSS3 is rarely working and same is the condition with DOM Level3 and DOM Level 2 Styles. Here is a simplified comparison table:

Standard Avg Compliance for IE6 Avg Compliance for IE7 Avg Compliance for Firefox2 Avg Compliance for Opera
HTML 4.01





CSS 2.1 41% 45% 90% 97%
DOM Events 77% 77% 100% 100%

Other standards like SVG are far from being implemented in IE and requires a plugin, whereas Opera 9 shows SVG pretty nicely. You can also try another test, the ACID2 Test to check the standards compliance. Also, look here for historical screenshots on different browsers on the ACID2 Test.

Opera is truly a innovative browser company and I guess everyone agrees that its invented popular features like tabbed browsing, Speed Dial, integrated search bar etc. that have come to other browsers as well. It has also been among the first to adopt the standards. So they really have the moral capacity for complaining against IE.

Making it a rule that everyone has to follow the standards is not a righteous thing to do. It has been seen in the past that not all standards are perfect. One company can do better than what the standard has to offer, but when it hinders progress of another company or affects the majority of internet users and developers, I think it needs to be sorted out. And in this case, IE is not making any special progress over the standards with IE. I think Opera's done a good job by complaining on the standards front. Hope the bench from EU listens and helps improve the situation.


Anonymous said...

Opera didn't invent tabbed browsing, Netcaptor did.

Opera used MDI-style windows in a single frame before Netcaptor came along, then sometime along the way switched to tabs.

David G. Paul said...

The question is though, are Opera doing this for the right reasons? If they're just doing it to gain market share (which most of the resolutions will mean an increase of) then that's something Mozilla have managed with Firefox without having to use such tactics - by the time this case is resolved it's likely IE8 (which passes Acid2) will be out rendering the case pointless

aonymous said...

Who cares who was first with tab browsing? It was hardly "invented" at the time, because tabbed document interfaces have been around for a long time. And it has NOTHING to do with standards.

I look at the figures posted, and I only can think that the standards must be pretty awful if NO ONE has gotten 100% compliance. Yes, standards are important. No, governments generally should not, IMHO, be forcing standards. Especially standards that are so complex that no one has yet become compliant. The market is a better carrot/stick to get people to follow standards.

Proof? IE8 reached a milestone and passes Acid2. No government involvement was needed. Opera didn't need to sue Microsoft.

Oh, and if you believe the lawsuit is truly about "the good of the industry" and not "the good of Opera", you're naive.

Saptarshi Purkayastha said...

I know tabs existed long before Opera, but then Opera made tabbed browsing popular (atleast among majority web users)

The web standards aren't gr8, but then there are a few parts of the standards that need to be followed, atleast for the benefit of the web...

Opera is in the browser business and I dont have a problem if Opera is doing it for its own good, since I know atleast if the standards are followed by IE, then life is easier for me!!