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“Internet Explorer is a buggy, incompatible mess”
At some point you have to let go of the past. The Web Standards Project, which was founded in 1998, did exactly that in early 2013, saying “Our work here is done.”
When The Web Standards Project (WaSP) formed in 1998, the web was the battleground in an ever-escalating war between two browser makers—Netscape and Microsoft—who were each taking turns “advancing” HTML to the point of collapse. You see, in an effort to one-up each other, the two browsers introduced new elements and new ways of manipulating web documents; this escalated to the point where their respective 4.0 versions were largely incompatible. … The WaSP’s primary goal was getting browser makers to support the standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Thanks to the hard work of countless WaSP members and supporters (like you), Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality. While there is still work to be done, the sting of the WaSP is no longer necessary. And so it is time for us to close down The Web Standards Project.
Indeed, as someone who uses Internet Explorer 11 as my primary browser day in and day out, I can count on one hand the number of times each month I run into a compatibility issue. And 9 times out of 10 that issue arises because some Web designer with a chip on his or her shoulder has coded the site to fail when it detects Internet Explorer.
Hating on Internet Explorer 6 was a perfectly reasonable thing to do in 2008. But that relic of the early Web is dead and buried. Let it go, people.
“Bing is a money-losing flop”
This one stems from a fundamental misconception, that Bing (the search engine) is a direct competitor to Google (the search engine).
That might be the most obvious manifestation of these incredibly rich data-driven services to a casual observer (which accurately describes most of the pundits thumping the table for a Bing spinoff). But there’s a helluva lot more to Bing than just web search.
My colleague Mary Branscombe has done a much better job of explaining the role of Bing than I could. She explains, “At heart, Bing (like Google) is a huge machine learning system.” And key to that system is Bing’s engine for understanding what information is about, called Satori. She then goes on to list all the things that Satori powers:
Satori is a huge collection of entities: People, places, events, businesses, objects and the relationships between them. A movie is an entity; so is are the actors who are in the movie, so you can see that James Spader was in Stargate, and then jump to a list of his other movies. Bing knows that Yosemite is a place, so it has weather, and a national park, so it has opening times. Satori is what Bing can use to find tweets and Facebook posts from your friends about the movie you're searching for when you look at show times. If you want to show the right information to the right person at the right time, understanding that information is vital.
Satori and Bing are behind the new Smart Search in Windows 8.1 that shows you your own files next to results from the Web. Looking for the contract you need to sign this week with a partner might be a good time to see their share price and any recent news stories about them. Imagine all the other information that could include in future; search for the document you need on SharePoint and see what colleagues have said about it on Yammer without having to remember to go look on Yammer.
Bing drives the new version of the Windows Store in Windows 8.1. It’s behind Kinect and the amazingly accurate predictive keyboard in Windows Phone.
But more important than any of that, Bing is a counterweight to Google. In the present and even more so in the future, being able to combine, collate, and present information is a core feature of any computing device. If Microsoft gets out of the search business, it effectively hands over monopoly power to Google. That will not end well.
“Windows is fundamentally insecure and unreliable”
The early parts of the first decade of this century were a nightmare for Microsoft and its customers. The combination of a monopoly share of the market, minimal security awareness, and a criminal community that had discovered the Internet with a vengeance meant that malware was a fact of life for every Windows user, at home and in the office.
That all began to change in 2002, when Bill Gates basically slammed on the brakes at Microsoft and forced a fundamental reassessment of how security issues are handled. Allow me to quote myself:
As a result of the Trustworthy Computing initiative, Microsoft introduced a massive change in the way it develops software. The Security Development Lifecycle has paid off hugely over the last 10 years and has been widely praised and copied.
In addition to building a more disciplined process for writing secure code, Microsoft has improved its update infrastructure and worked closely with outside security experts and third-party developers to improve the way their products work. Over time, Microsoft has built its own antivirus and network intrusion software; now that the 2001 antitrust agreement has officially ended, that software will finally appear in Windows itself.
These days, most successful exploits come through vulnerabilities in third-party software. A brand-new report from Secunia, for example, notes that Microsoft has two-thirds of the software in the top 50 list on the average PC, but only 24 percent of the vulnerabilities. And even when those vulnerabilities occur, Microsoft customers are generally well protected:
It is one thing that third-party programs are responsible for the majority of vulnerabilities on a typical PC, rather than Microsoft programs. However, another very important security factor is how easy it is to update Microsoft programs compared to third-party programs. Quite simply, the automation with which Microsoft security updates are made available to end users – through auto-updates, Configuration Management systems and update services – ensures that it is a reasonably simple task to protect private PCs and corporate infrastructures from the vulnerabilities discovered in Microsoft products. This is not so with the large number of third-party vendors, many of whom lack either the capabilities, resources or security focus to make security updates automatically and easily available,” said Secunia CTO, Morten R. Stengaard.
Thanks to its massive footprint, Microsoft software is still a massive target. It’s a well-protected target, fortunately. And if you think otherwise, you might be living in 1998. Coincidentally, it’s a 1998-era PC (shown above) that Apple uses to illustrate a PC in Finder. I guess they’re too busy fixing horrifying SSL bugs to actually replace that icon with a modern Windows PC.