Eddie, you're right, and wrong

Normally I don't respond to letters to the editor, but in Eddie Russell's case (CW May 29 p16), he was so right and yet so wrong I felt that someone needed to step up and say something.

Eddie asks, "What will the new standard be?" This question is interesting because it implies two things. Firstly, that standards make interoperability easier - which is true - and that Microsoft is interested in standards - which couldn't be further from the truth. Let me back up this second statement with a couple of examples. Microsoft recently corrupted the Kerberos standard. Kerberos was designed at MIT as an Open Standard to aid the interoperability of various operating systems across networks. Microsoft recently ‘broke' the standard to make this interoperability fail. This action is clearly at odds with whole point of the standard in the first place. This is not the first time Microsoft has taken this sort of action, which clearly has no benefit to anybody except Microsoft. The version of Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows currently in development fails to support Web standards and actually is less compliant than the current version. Microsoft was the company that proposed the standards it is now ignoring. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer for Macintosh is in fact more standards-compliant than either of the aforementioned browsers. Why did Microsoft bother proposing standards if it is unwilling to support them? And more interestingly, why doesn't Microsoft bother supporting the same standards with each of its browsers? The answer is simple. Microsoft isn't interested in standards. And now with some good news for Eddie. If standards are what you want, then Open Source is your best friend. Recently in a discussion about developing a standard file format to be used across Gnome and KDE (two very capable windows environments for Linux) the general consensus was that for the short to medium term, Microsoft's file formats should be used. As a comparison, the new Netscape browser is the most standards-compliant browser available. And it's not just standards-compliant, it is compliant regardless of the operating system you choose to use. This is not simply a case of good luck it's because of the very Open Source nature of it. Until Netscape open sourced its browser, the support for standards was worse than Microsoft's. Support for standards is alive and well in the open-source community; I only wish I could say the same for the other side of the fence.

Rodd Clarkson, Ringwood, VIC

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