Henrik speaking at a conference

Hi, I’m Henrik Joreteg

Mobile web consultant, developer, and speaker

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Is Microsoft purposely holding back the web?

Google keeps saying that they want to “move the web forward” is it possible that Microsoft is actually trying to “hold the web back”? The reason I bring this up is one word: motivation.

Why would Microsoft want to move the web forward? Microsoft hasn’t really figured out how make money on the web yet. In fact, many people would say that they have repeatedly failed at all things web-related. So one could argue, that it would be in Microsoft’s best interest if people kept using desktop applications and just kept doing what they’re doing. That is, buying a new computer (and the new Windows license that comes with it) every time their Windows installation gets bloated with spy-ware and various other crap-ware. That has worked for Microsoft for years, and they’re struggling to find their role in the new “open web” model where so much is given away for free.

So what power do they really have? Well, because of the success of Windows they still have the largest share of the browser market. Web developers can build amazing web applications with modern browser technology. However, in order to have wide appeal, they are often forced to build apps that conform to the lowest common browser denominator (which is almost always IE).

Web developers have been pushing the limits of web-technologies for years; trying to re-create the “feel” and functionality of desktop applications within a browser. There have been some incredible advances in these areas, examples that come to mind are Mozilla’s Bespin, Google Docs, Zoho’s office tools, Adobe’s Photoshop Express, and picnik. Also, if you want to be blown away by what can be done in a browser head over to ChromeExperiements.com

However, much of the added “zing” needed to make web applications really seem comparable to desktop apps requires use of some of the more progressive web technologies that will be available in the yet-to-be-completely-defined standards of HTML 5. But, all other major browsers such as FireFox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera are already implementing some of the more powerful features of HTML 5 such as the “canvas” tag that enable some of the most impressive web applications, like the aforementioned Bespin (a web based IDE for coders).

Given the fact that Microsoft has had very limited success on the web, is it really such a stretch to imagine that they would use their position in the browser market to slow down that transition?

Are they doing it on purpose? Who knows. Are they slowing down the evolution of the web? No doubt.

What do you think?