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   Re: [xml-dev] Browser innovation efforts -- where's W3C in thispicture?

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At 4:22 AM +0200 7/7/04, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:

>Even if there will be a new MIME type, it would mean that content
>providers will have to provide at least two versions of their content
>until user agents that support XHTML 2.0 will be sufficiently deployed.
>Unless there is a sufficiently cheap tool that auto-generates HTML
>content from XHTML 2.0 content of similar quality, this will probably
>be seen as too expensive. So they would wait until it is sufficiently
>deployed. Considering that there are still content providers who care
>about supporting Netscape Navigator 4.x it seems unlikely that this
>will happen before 2008.

What people keep missing in this discussion is that there is clear 
historical precedent for better browser application technology that 
is incompatible with existing browsers being widely adopted in the 
marketplace and indeed driving the adoption of an alternative 
browser. This is exactly what happened with IE roughly five years ago.

IE introduced the ability to develop far richer user interfaces that 
were completely incompatible with the installed base of Netscape. No, 
developers writing for the general public didn't use these features, 
and rightly so. For the most part, they still don't. However this 
drove massive adoption of IE within the firewall on intranet after 
intranet. Many companies elected to standardize on IE in order to 
take advantage of its completely non-standard and incompatible object 
model and application development abilities because IE let them do 
things that were too hard or expensive to do any other way, including 
by following web standards.

If a group were to deliver a browser that radically lowered the cost 
of development and enabled new applications with better user 
interfaces, it would be adopted widely, despite being incompatible 
with the existing installed base. No, you wouldn't be able to use 
these technologies on the public Internet, but it would nonetheless 
be a huge advantage for any company or organization that provided 
such a solution. Sadly, the only browser company that seems willing 
to provide new functionality that goes beyond the past is Microsoft. 
Opera and Mozilla seem have confused their inability to pass 
Microsoft on the Information Superhighway with an inability to follow 
a different road to a different destination. :-(

   Elliotte Rusty Harold
   Effective XML (Addison-Wesley, 2003)


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