Browser Wars II

Browser Wars II Yahoo! (YHOO) and Sillicon Valley Web Builder hosted a really cool event tonight: Browser Wars: Episode II The Attack of the DOMs. The speakers were:

After an awkward introduction, Douglas set the stage by explaining how complex the web development industry was: software bugs that live in one version of a browser don’t get erased by the next version. People may use those older versions for months or years to come. Newer versions also surface new bugs. What we get are essentially compound bugs. Know how compound interest is a great & powerful thing? Well, compound bugs are equally powerful, but very, very bad.

Then Chris and Mike spoke. (Håkon, who was flying in all the way from Oslo, Norway, was running late due to a flight delay.) They were surprisingly cordial and professional. Some members of the audience seemed disappointed by this; they expected blood. Instead, what they got was a lot of mutual respect & admiration between the two. I found this very positive, especially if it’s an indication of a stronger collaboration between IE and Firefox in the future.

When Håkon arrived, that’s when the jabs began. He discussed the Acid2 test and how poorly IE7 supports it. Again, they were professional, yet playful. All three are hillarious speakers. It was like three college buddies vying for the same girl – none wanted to totally trash his friends, but still wanted to make himself look better.

Håkon also added this piece of news: future versions of Opera will include a native <video> element and support the Ogg video file format because it’s a patent-free open standard. This means there will be no need for plugins to view video on Opera in the future. There may be a similar element for audio files as well.

Noticeably absent was a representative from Apple’s (AAPL) Safari team, even though they were invited. When asked about this, the official excuse given was that the Safari team was too busy to attend. “Two busy to take two hours out of your day?” asked Douglas. “Håkon flew twenty hours from Oslo to be here. They’re less than an hour away from our office.”

“I drove by them on my way here,” added Chris. See what I mean by hillarious speakers? Still, the absense of Apple was disappointing.

After their brief presentations, the speakers took questions from the audience, some of which included (all paraphrased):

Q: What are they doing to improve JavaScript performance?
A: All have made improvements to JavaScript’s garbage collection mechanisms, but admit there’s still much to be done.

Q: Will they support more interactivity with the operating system?
A: Not necessarily, since there are security issues to worry about. But there’s already some level of support, like Firefox’s extensions and Microsoft’s ActiveX.

Q: In light of new technologies like Adobe’s Apollo and Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Platform (WPF), should we abandon Ajax?
A: Heck no!

Q: Will they support SVG?
A: No, because it’s not that easy to support; an SVG browser would mean a whole new kind of web browser.

Q: What are their strategies with mobile devices?
A: Opera leads in this area; Microsoft is continuing to improve their mobile IE browser; Mozilla admits it’s an important space but didn’t say anything concrete about entering it or not.

Q: What are their personal opinions on how they should innovate?
A: All agree that they’ll continue to strengthen their support for web standards, browser security, and other improvements for developers and end users. Mike added that standards organizations (like the W3C) are great for deciding how to propose flexible, interoperable solutions to common problems, but not for innovations.

There were other great insights & one-liners from the speakers. I hope someone else was able to capture them (anyone liveblog the event?). I’ll include them in this entry as I find them.

Fantastic event! Props to Chris, Mike, Håkon, Douglas, and all the organizers for putting this together!

UPDATED 3/5/2007: Here’s more coverage of this event.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

3 thoughts on “Browser Wars II”

  1. > Q: Will they support SVG?
    > A: No, because it’s not that easy to support; an SVG browser would mean a whole new kind of web browser.

    who is “they” in this case, who answered ?
    I guess respectively “IE team” and “Chris Wilson” as
    IE is the only one not natively implementing SVG at least partially. see

  2. Actually, Mike Shaver was the one who said that building support for SVG would mean a whole new kind of browser. But Chris Wilson agreed.

    They didn’t deny that SVG was important, but alluded that there didn’t seem to be as large of a market demand for it than something else, like user security or CSS/HTML web standards.

    So I don’t think any of these browsers will be supporting SVG anytime soon.

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