Microsoft has a wonderfully amusing talent for undoing its own good work.
Last month, Redmond unveiled Internet Explorer 9, a Microsoft browser that finally embraced web standards in a very big way. But any goodwill it may have won from the web community has already been undermined by the company's latest efforts to remarket the internet in its own image.
On Tuesday, with a speech at the company's annual MIX conference in Las Vegas and an accompanying blog post, head IE man Dean Hachamovitch told the world that Microsoft's next browser, IE10, will deliver "the next wave of progress" in what he calls "native HTML5 support".
Apparently, this message was delivered without irony.
"Web sites and HTML5 run best when they run natively, on a browser optimized for the operating system on your device," Hachamovitch said. "We built IE9 from the ground up for HTML5 and for Windows to deliver the most native HTML5 experience and the best Web experience on Windows. IE10 continues on IE9’s path."
This could be the ultimate in Microsoft marketing nonsense. The competition is fierce, but you can't beat using a straight-faced oxymoron for your tagline
"[The 'native html' moniker] basically contradicts the entire idea of the web as non-native and platform-agnostic. You know, the idea the entire web was built on?" writes Opera man Haavard Moen. "HTML5 is not native. It is not supposed to be native. It is silly to even attempt to tie HTML5 to a specific platform."
Hachamovitch, it seems, is trying to tell the world that HTML5 performs better on Windows with IE than on any other platform. But he succeeds only in treating his readers like idiots. "The only native experience of the Web and HTML5 today is on Windows 7 with IE9," Hachamovitch writes.
"IE9’s approach to taking advantage of what the operating system offers – from the native graphics stack to jump lists in the shell – maximizes performance, usability, and reliability...The best HTML5 is native to the operating system, so Web sites have the fewest translation layers to pass through."
Just after the Hachamovitch blog post appeared, Firefox lead developer Mike Beltzner responded with a Mozilla bug report. "The Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview has 'Native HTML5' support," Beltzner wrote. "Mozilla should consider adding support for native HTML5 as well. I'm sure that a specification will be produced".
Opera man Moen applauded Beltzer's ironic approach, but ultimately, he was more direct. "In my opinion, Dean Hachamovitch should be ashamed of himself for signing his name to such a shoddy piece of dishonest marketing nonsense. Call me a grumpy old open web fundamentalist, but I'm getting fed up with this."
We would point out that Hachamovitch works for Microsoft. The company is behaving just as you'd expect it to behave. ®