Web standards aren't important to the average computer user. Most people just want the web sites they visit to look nice and work properly. Web developers, however, must consider standards to support as many choices of software as possible, and therefore potentially more users.
"While Microsoft may pay lip service to web standards, a look at their product line suggests they have no interest in supporting the standards they’ve helped create... Microsoft clearly has other priorities and a closer investigation of the facts seems to indicate that support for web standards is hardly a blip on their corporate radar." One would reasonably expect their corporate web site to conform to standards if they consider those standards truely important. Yet Microsoft's Internet Explorer page is not even close to being valid HTML. The current standard is to create web page content in HTML (or XHTML) and define the style separately in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but Microsoft FrontPage, their web site design tool, does not create separate CSS or valid HTML. Their current [development] tool, Visual Studio with ASP[.Net], does not create valid XHTML or CSS. Nor does Microsoft Word. Internet Explorer's notorious lack of properly handling CSS causes many web developers to create IE specific web sites. "It’s hard to say exactly what Microsoft’s problem might be. What are we to believe? Either Microsoft is hopelessly behind in their support of web standards, or they’re subverting standards to protect their market share." (Biglione, Kirk. "Does Microsoft Care About Web Standards?." www.alttags.org 29 April 2004)
Here are just a few examples of Microsoft's lack of compliance with web standards. All statistics are accurate as of September 2004.
- Microsoft Corporation Home Page - 25 errors
- Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Home Page - 112 errors
- MSDN HTML Element Reference Page - 87 errors
- Microsoft FrontPage Product Home Page - 81 errors
- Windows Server Feedback - 231 errors; Site generated with BuildMyApplication whose home page sends an invalid content type of "text/plain"
If Microsoft's sites for web development tools, languages, and servers aren't standards compliant then their claims of dedication to standards are false. Nothing proves caring about standards more than living by those standards.
HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTP)
The HTTP standard requires file types to be based on the MIME type string sent from the server. The browser must handle the file appropriately for the MIME type passed. As of version 6.0, Microsoft® Internet Explorer determines a file's type by its extension, not conforming to the standard. For a conforming browser and development library see Mozilla and netlib (Necko).