Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

Summary: It seemed like a good idea to some Microsoft developers (for a brief moment): Why not add support for both the -ms and -webkit prefixes in the version of the Internet Explorer (IE) mobile browser Microsoft was building for Windows Phone 7 devices? It turns out the idea was a bad one and Microsoft has reversed course.

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It seemed like a good idea to some Microsoft developers (for a brief moment): Why not add support for both the -ms and -webkit prefixes in the version of the Internet Explorer (IE) mobile browser Microsoft was building for Windows Phone 7 devices?

It turns out the idea was a bad one. And it took Microsoft a single day to change its path, as documented in two back-to-back blog posts on the "IE for Windows Phone Team" blog.

A quick bit of background: Webkit is the rendering engine at the heart of a number of browsers, including those from Apple, Google, Nokia and RIM, among others. Microsoft uses its own rendering engine, known as Trident, inside Internet Explorer. When browser developers implement an experimental or proprietary CSS property, they prefix it with the appropriate “vendor prefix."

On May 10, in a post entitled "JavaScript and CSS changes in IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7," Windows Phone Principal Program Manager Joe Marini explained Microsoft's plans for adding two prefixes to the version of IE (a hybrid of IE 7 and 8) that it is building for Windows Phone 7.

Community reaction was unfavorable (to put it mildly) about Microsoft's decision to add the -webkit prefix. Daniel Glazman, the co-chairman of the W3cCSS Working Group weighed in with the following comment (at the end of the original Microsoft blog post):

"Let me state it very clearly: vendor prefixes are here for experimental purposes by the vendor represented in the prefix. I __strongly__ recommend removing *immediately* that -webkit-* property from Mobile IE."

On May 11, the IE for Windows Phone Team did a 180. As explained in a new blog post by Marini:

"Our original intent in adding support for this WebKit-specific property was to make Web developers’ lives a bit easier by not having to add yet another vendor-prefixed CSS property to their pages to control how text was scaled. Even more specifically, we intuited that the most common use case for this property was to explicitly set it to 'none' in order to tell the browser not to scale a particular section of text....

"After hearing the community’s feedback on this issue (and a couple of face-palms when we realized the broader implications of implementing other browser vendors’ CSS properties), we’ve decided that it’s best to only implement the -ms- prefixed version and not the -webkit- one."

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on the operating system that will power Windows Phone 7 devices. A near-final escrow build of the release candidate of the Windows Phone 7 OS leaked recently. Microsoft officials have declined to say when the company expects to release to manufacturing that operating system, but the first Windows Phone 7 devices are due out by this holiday season.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, Windows

About

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).

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33 comments
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  • Microsoft is isolated, as WP7 can only run Internet Explorer

    Microsoft is a minor player in mobile. Every other major vendor uses the WebKit browser. But on Windows Phone 7, there will be no choice... just Internet Explorer Mobile. The current fiasco over vendor prefixes highlights the different behavior of IE Mobile compared to the rest of the mobile industry. Microsoft should adopt the entire WebKit browser as its default, instead of digging itself into its proprietary hole of mobile death.
    Vbitrate
    • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

      @Market Analyst What if it works exactly like WebKit or better?
      AdamzP
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        @AdamzP As it would be a first for the IE brand, I think everyone would be extremely shocked
        infinitelyimprobable
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        Microsoft is aware of Windows Phone (and Zune) connectivity issues: There have been all kinds of new and interesting Windows Phone 7 applications flooding into the Windows Phone Marketplace over the past few days. (Microsoft is now up to more than 25,000 Windows Phone apps.)
        raimu koyo asu
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        as long as it could. When I asked earlier in the week whether Microsoft was part of a group bidding
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        on Nortel?s patents, I was told Microsoft had no comment. Microsoft officials said earlier this year
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        that they felt no need to bid on the patents because of a sweeping patent deal they had signed with Nortel, announced in 2007, that would hold regardless of who purchased the patents.
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        The consortium is paying $4.5 billion in cash for the Nortel patents, of which Ericsson?s contribution
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        $340 million, the Wall Street Journal said on June 30. A Reuters report earlier this year said
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        Google was willing to pay $900 million for the Nortel patent portfolio.
        Linux Love
      • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

        Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and blogger, said he found it surprising Google didn?t
        Linux Love
    • That's not all it highlights.

      It also highlights how utterly lame Web presentation still is, in 2010. We're still slapping proprietary band-aids on HTML to control basic text properties? Look at all the CSS "tricks" required to do such crazily futuristic things as DRAWING TABS. The Web desperately needs a real page-description language, something like PostScript but with provisions for UI description as well.
      dgurney
    • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

      @gjafg Well said. And furthermore, Qt consortium has just created a <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">sohbet</a> project to use <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">chat</a> in a new, more tightly architected Browser. So Apple "gives back" to the company which bought Trolltech. Nokia, soon to be a direct competitor in <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com/portal/">portal</a> phones. And home appliances with touch screen and web browsers. (Future scenario: "find me a recipe, and run it.") Intel wants those things to run <a href="http://video.trsohbet.com/">izlesene</a>, on Atom SOCs <a href="http://www.forumuz.net">forum</a>.<br><br>Microsoft has vast resources, due to their Monopoly-based pricing abilities. But there's about 500 full-time Developers working on WebKit. That's $50M - $100M in direct and indirect employment <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">chat sohbet</a> costs. If Microsoft is running a similar-sized team, all on it's own, and with all bugzilla-style reports and users' comments hidden away in secrecy, even THAT company will feel some pain:<br><br>Even with a team of equal size, they won't be able to keep up. They'll have to spend even MORE money (which they almost certainly do); and they'll also end up shipping second-class software (which they DEFINITELY <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">sohbet odalari</a>).
      cstrathmore
    • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

      @gjafg Also, Microsoft has already committed to owning OS updates for WP7. They've adoped a completely new strategy since Windows Mobile. Handset makers and wireless carriers will no longer get to dictate which phones receive OS upgrades. Based on how well Microsoft treated Zune owners over the years.
      Arabalar
    • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

      @gjafg That is really a big question. Google's servers are the heart of Google's business. And it has long been a FEATURE, a FEATURE, not a LOOPHOLE, that one could privately modify the GPL code they use to run their business. Of course web applications are obviously SaaS. But where does one draw the line between those applications and the servers that host them? For example, take an insurance company running open source on their back end servers. At some point they decide to put a customer facing front end on those servers so that customers can access their accounts over the Net. Does that suddenly make that whole kaboodle Saas? If so, I am not sure I am comfortable with AGPL. In fact, I am not sure I am comfortable with this concept anyway since it undercuts one of the few provisions that make GPL software highly attractive to businesses that are not engaged in reselling the software itself. It really compromises the spirit of the GPL in some ways.
      arabaoyunlari@...
    • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

      @gjafg

      There are accordingly a lot of motives for <a href="http://www.shoppharmacycounter.com/m-582-xanax-zoloft-anti-anxiety.aspx">xanax online</a> just before not accede with you.
      zolof_1
  • RE: Microsoft nixes '-webkit' prefix for IE Mobile for Windows Phone 7

    Yes WP7 would be so crippled now with only IE unless competitors write a browser in .NET CF or Silverlight. Again shows why no native apps is really such a bad idea.
    xp-client
  • Have we learned no lessons at all?

    How nice that the web is now so standards compliant that there are no proprietary or custom tags that only work in 1 rendering engine.

    [i]When browser developers implement an experimental or proprietary CSS property, they prefix it with the appropriate "vendor prefix."[/i]

    Oh. Huh. How about that. Well, since webkit is from Apple (well, stolen khtml with an Apple logo on it), I'm sure that proprietary tags is suddenly a [b]good[/b] thing, right?

    Cue the double standards...
    NonZealot
    • What about Lessons?

      @NonZealot You apparently want people to learn lessons, step 1, speak clearly. The use of the word "stolen" is not only harsh, but entirely inaccurate. It's well known Apple used KHTML as the base. The proper term is a 'fork'. Open source allows for that, expects it, and the reason all these other browser makers are using Webkit (note I said "using" and not "stole")...is precisely because Apple did not steal anything, they stayed true to open source, by making their changes, and leaving them open source, for others to revise and extend.

      In other words, that worked exactly the way Open Source advocates hoped it would, and its a beautiful thing, and Microsoft is hurting for it.
      rdupuy11
      • NZ can't deal with facts...

        @rdupuy11: H*ll most of the time he can't even measure a true double standard. And given that he says that Apple stole something that is open sourced, just goes to prove he has no idea on how open source licensing works either.
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh