Meeting of the minds: Microsoft and Mozilla

Meeting of the minds: Microsoft and Mozilla

Summary: So what ever happened to the brave Mozilla delegation that accepted Microsoft’s invitation earlier this summer to travel to the belly of the Borg?

TOPICS: Browser

So what ever happened to the brave Mozilla delegation that accepted Microsoft’s invitation earlier this summer to travel to the belly of the Borg? Was it mission accomplished, as far as insuring Vista compatibility for Firefox?

Looks like the Mozilla folks made it out alive, according to a blog post from Microsoft CardSpace (aka InfoCard)  Product Manager Richard Turner.

“We (Mike, Garrett and yours truly) really enjoyed meeting with the Mozilla guys and greatly appreciate their focus and insightful understanding of the importance of the Identity Metasystem,” Turner blogged.

Turner also pointed to blog entries from one of the Mozilla team members who visited Microsoft, Vladimir Vukicevic “one of the guys at Mozilla responsible for Mozilla's graphical rendering engine.”

Vukicevic kicked off his trip report on October 1 by noting, “We hope to get a chance to talk to People Who Know (TM) about all sorts of issues surrounding Vista, including figuring out how to work with limited user accounts and UAC (User Account Control), various compatibility issues, and how to take advantage of certain Vista integration opportunities.”

By Day 2, Vukicevic already was fretting over UAC, a Vista feature that has come under much criticism from power users and various app vendors who’ve run into compatibility snags because of it. 

UAC smells of the disaster that was (is?) SELinux on Fedora Core 4, when FC4 was almost shipped with SELinux enabled by default,” he blogged.

“The downside for Firefox is that we need to go through all sorts of hoops to do things like update our software (not using MSI (Microsoft Installer) ? you’re screwed, but check out this cool blurry border effect!), install plugins or any other xpinstall packages, write things to the system registry so that we can register as the default browser system-wide, etc.,” Vukicevic continued. “These are all solvable problems, and they’re very willing to find answers to our questions and to help us solve all this, but I can’t help but think that UAC is fundamentally flawed for anyone but corporate deployments where normal users won’t have admin rights.”

By Day 4, (after some scotch and shopping in the Microsoft Company Store), Vukicevic was a little less critical of UAC.

I’ll even turn UAC back on (or rather, leave it on) in the next released build on Vista; before anyone accuses me of drinking too much of the Kool-aid (if that happens, you’ll know: e.g., if I start talking about Firefox ActiveX support), like I said earlier, it’s a step in the right direction,” he noted.

Bottom line: “Overall, it was a very productive and useful visit; we’ve got a whole bunch of new things to look at, and hopefully we gave the folks at Microsoft some useful ideas about areas in which they could work with us and with other open source projects,” Vukicevic summarized.

It will be interesting to see how well new versions of Firefox, Thunderbird and other open-source apps ultimately work on the final Vista build. Stay tuned.

Topic: Browser


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Reassurance but not inspiration

    Because a quoted blog entry shows that FireFox is unlikely to have native support for ActiveX soon, ambitions for the alternate browser remain stunted.

    Some day I think that people at Mozilla will want to provide everything people have come to expect from a browser, but until then we can continue to be indulgent.
    Anton Philidor
    • Which column?

      [i]Because a quoted blog entry shows that FireFox is unlikely to have native support for ActiveX soon[/i]

      That's a feature, Anton, not a bug.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Yagotta B. Kidding it's a bug not a feature .

        Active X is a bug not a feature .
      • People who defend primitive ways of life...

        ... are most often anthropologists sentimentalizing the traditional. The people who have had to live with limitations for so long are now desperate to reach the modern world the anthropologists despise.

        The FireFox developer who made the ani-ActiveX comment is like a primitive whose first encounter with modernity is a t-shirt with a funny slogan in a foreign language.

        Once he realizes the implications, all that was necessary to bring him that motto, he will want to leave the jungle in pursuit of advancment.

        The present will await FireFox, but the distance its developers will have to travel keeps increasing.
        Anton Philidor
        • Even Microsoft regrets ActiveX

          Anton, when MS announced ActiveX back in the mid-90s, they hadn't even [u]heard[/u] of security. Immediately, every security-clued individual in the industry told them it was one of the worst ideas ever.

          Ten-plus years of living with the abyssmal security consequences of Microsoft's "invention" has proved all of those critics right. Every time a new threat shows up, Microsoft's first-response advice is, "turn off ActiveX."

          Face it, it's a loser.

          The number of situations where ActiveX is worth more than it costs is very, very short. Instead of having it turned on by default and then applying an ever-growing list of exceptions, it just plain makes more sense to leave it out of the picture [i]except[/i] when there's some compelling need for it.

          Which is exactly what Mozilla does. Surprise, surprise.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
        • ActiveX *IS* primitive. There are many newer, less primitive technologies.

          ActiveX is an old, outdated technology with security being patched on instead of being written for security from the ground up. I've never found a use for it, and I imagine I'll never use it.

          Even Microsoft is telling people to turn it off when there's security issues, and have long since provided vastly superior tools that can easily replace ActiveX.

          No, my friend, you have it backwards. It's people who are still using ActiveX that are defending a primitive way of life. ActiveX is far older than Firefox, and it has long been outdated.

          Sooner or later, they'll have to move on. When they decide to do so, there are plenty of tools that provide superior functionality with a lesser security risk.
    • ActiveX is Windows specific and not cross platform.

      The Web (and Internet facing n-tier applications) lean towards being client agnostic. The people who are pro-ActiveX tend to be those with limited skill or low aspirations (I just want to be a middle manager...), not people who develop web apps or have an earning power of $50K a month (you know who you are) on an individual basis. ActiveX is effectively COM/DCOM, thus limited to Windows only.
      • Who cares, "Windows Everywhere"

        It's more than a slogan. ;-)
        • Thank you for the underachiever perspective.

          Always good to hear from the "bumper sticker philosophy" crowd.
          • Oh my, the genius of the world just spoke.

            I mean you are OBVIOUSLY so much smater than 95% of the worlds PC users... NOT!!!
          • And 95% of people are smarte than you.

            Unlike you who dumber than 95% of the worlds PC users... and 99.999% of the people on the planet?
    • You are Always good for a laff... You are...

      Since Mike Cox seems to be on sabatical, although cnfrisch is somewhat entertaining.....

      AxtiveX is/was the scurge of the Internet, I suppose it is not that odd that it the core of MS's Strategy & auto update procedure. In a protectected & Managed enviroment it can be renderd harmless and even become useful if all you have or know is MS.... But outside of that not much value or benefit...

      Today I might guess that Scurge would be Flash. No wonder Adobe quickly purchased MacroMedia as they had alledged a development platform for or to even opensource it. Great technology rendered useless by myopic corporate interest....

      Your other post is cute too.
      Strange they are still trying to get on the same page as Moz.
      It would not look good....if they did not at least look like they were trying to colaborate an not directly steal...

      One thing about primitive man.. they could more easily sense danger. Another is that maybe some have evovled and realized technology is not a company or product but understanding.
      • Important provincial visitors to Byzantium...

        ... were allowed to see the Emperor enthroned.

        They followed a gold path to a golden throne before a gilded tree with lifelike mechanical birds calling and two golden lions on each side.

        And when the visitors were about to leave, the lighting emulated a sunrise and the throne rose into the air until the Emperor in his robe dazzled them like the sun itself.

        Microsoft, too, knows how to put on a show for the unsophisticated. The Mozilla functionaries left with the feeling that both sides had been helped.

        But I doubt that they felt they had given Microsoft more than their wish list. "... look like they were trying to collaborate and not directly steal ..." indeed.
        Anton Philidor
        • Re: Important provincial...

          Exactly what I was thinking after reading Vladimir Vukicevic's (one of the people responsible for Firefox's graphical rendering engine)) 4-parter in his blog about the trip to microsoft. After years (and years and years "pant-pant") of working with and using MS software and OS's, it seems that got what they were after when they invited the people from Mozilla's Firefox team onto the campus.

          Collaborate...uh-huh...yes indeedy!
      • ActiveX

        ActiveX was the first successful component model for Windows developers. It can be cross platform as there are many developers who provided these features for other platforms.

        However, who wants cross-platform? While it appears that the various cultists always forget that Windows owns computing (over 90% global usage) the Mac comes in just over 3% and for the rest, well, Linux is yet to make an integer.

        As for Mozilla and that !@#$% Firefox (even with its small minority usage( it breaks my business website - no problems with IE or Opera and no, there are no specific IE bits to complain about. I've reported it twice through their bug reporting mechanism - which seems to be a black hole equivalent.

        And as for the Borg reference - gee it's so nice to have unbiased reporting - NOT.

        In fact, if you want a Star Trek reference, then MS is the Federation, *nixers are the Klingons and those Firefox people are the Romulans - and you can never trust Romulans ;-)
        • Flags Flying

          Give the lady credit,,she came on board with her flags in plain view. Told us up front that she was an MS Sceptic. Any writer/blogger/reporter that tells you up front what their biases are can be a good source of information. You just have to apply a little "windage" to what they say.
          • YOUR bias is showing, too, but you don't count.

            "Any writer/blogger/reporter that tells you up front what their biases are can be a good source of information."

            Only to those with the same bias. To everyone else, it's just hot air.
      • What is scurge?

        Had you not used it twice, I wouldn't have questioned it. Maybe I'm not up on current terminology. I like how you state: <br>
        <i>In a protectected & Managed enviroment it can be renderd harmless and even become useful if all you have or know is MS.... But outside of that not much value or benefit...</i><br>

        That's a great statement and you make is sound minimally useful when in fact it would be like saying the spoon and fork are useful during dinner but outside of that, not so much.

        Also the col(l)aborate an(d) not directly steal.
        Hmm. What department at Microsoft is that does the "stealing"? You must be literally saying that they have a departement of employees that are professionals at hacking sites, breaking into buildings and the like, right? Cause if it were an easy task to look at something else, then reproduce it, surely someone would have reproduced Windows just for kicks by now eh?
        Gosh dang. What did Apple or Open Source innovate? Name one thing and you win.
        Stealing. If you are going to talk about business in that sense and put a lid on what is normal practice then why not include all of today's industries eh? People want to get things done. Nobody really cares that your hero is a great French programmer from 1993 or whatever. And that he used only a simple wordprocessor to write his code and anyone who uses a visual IDE is not a true programmer and not worthy of coding. Only Open source can steal the ideas of windows and do ithout being tagged as stealing because they work for the great cause of all mankind.
        People just want to get their work done. They don't care who "first" wrote code for a GUI. Ok? It wasn't Apple either, so get over all of that and move on.
        • Finally, a voice of reason in an unwinable argument..

    • Why would I want ActiveX?

      I have not missed it in all the years I have used Firfox/Mozilla/Netscape. The only real need I have for it is Windows Updates and that can be bypassed by using automatic updates.

      If you have an example of why I need it in Firefox, please share it. Is there some great benefit that I am missing?
      Patrick Jones