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October 13, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp, which is coming under increasing pressure from industry lobby groups to ensure that future releases of its Internet Explorer web browser adhere more closely to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards, is talking up new standards support in demonstrations of IE 5. At its Professional Developers Conference in Denver, Colorado, the Redmond software giant showed off technologies to be added to IE 5 and Windows which are designed to support XML 1.0, XSL, XML DOM and XML Namespaces. In a not-very-subtle dig at rival Netscape Communications Corp, Microsoft says it is the first major software vendor to support these W3C XML specifications. The truth is, Microsoft didn’t have much choice. In August, the Web Standards Project formed. Calling itself the WaSP, the project is a coalition of web developers committed to forcing Netscape and Microsoft to implement the W3C’s standards. The developers say they waste 25% of their time fiddling around reconciling differences between the Redmond and Mountain View implementations of web standards, and they’ve had enough of it. The problem is not just supporting IE and Navigator, but versions 2, 3 and 4 of each, with and without Javascript. With both IE and Navigator 5 due out before the end of the year, the WaSP feared things would just get worse. It swung into action. In September the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP) added their name and weight to the fledgling Project (CI No 3,494), and last week it was the turn of the Open Standards Group to declare its support for the WaSP (CI No 3,514). Until now the nastiest stings have been inflicted on Netscape, whose next-generation layout engine for Navigator, ngLayout, seems unlikely to be completed in time for inclusion with Navigator 5. On the eve of Boston’s Web ’98 conference, the WaSP encouraged developers to demand that Netscape deliver ngLayout with the next release of Navigator (CI No 3,502). It seems safe to assume that Microsoft was keeping close tabs on this campaign and correctly surmised that it was next in the firing line. Little wonder, then, that the early marketing of IE 5 concentrates on W3C standards implementation, practically to the exclusion of all else. Microsoft says the next releases of both IE 5 and Windows will support direct viewing of XML, a validation engine, support for the extensible style language (XSL), server- side XML and an XML document object model (DOM). Microsoft being Microsoft, the company is unable to resist the temptation to describe this belated reaction to furious industry pressure as an innovation. What do they want, a medal? á

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