This post has started from my suffering from developing web sites differently to make them work in IE and in Firefox the same. That was everything I asked for…Currently, even with IE8 I still can’t develop on Firefox and remain calm and confident that the site works the same on IE.
The truth is that it is not entirely Microsoft’s fault. When they begun developing IE somewhere in 1995, standards were not that important – it was more about “please just work” kind of work. In addition, even if there were standards, we can assume that the guys at Microsoft assumed that they would change the standards as they had done before in other fields. What Microsoft didn’t realize was that the Internet was stronger and that they were not going to win the standards battle this time.
Anyway, out of my suffering I came to a conclusion – even though we like to think of Microsoft as this big evil doer that doesn’t follow standards, it is just another brick in the wall of global un-standardization that started long long ago and still effects our everyday life.
Language – yes, language. Starting from the beginning of days, the very basic resource of our communication is a one big un-standard thing. Just visit the country near you (and sometimes even the district near you) and most likely you will run into a different language than yours. Think of how big it is – almost everything you create in one country, should be fixed in some way to fit a second country. TV shows, manuals, books, user interfaces, etc.
If you do not agree with me because language is related to culture and different cultures is a part of our nature (some would say that it’s a kind of un-standardization, too), the next bullet will be harder for you to disprove.
Signs – especially driving signs. This is something which is entirely unrelated to the local culture. We all should stop at the traffic light, slow when entering school perimeter and beware of rolling stones. As a result, driving rules across the globe are very similar indeed. However, every country uses a slightly different sign set. For example, look at the different Stop signs from across the globe:
If we had to develop a globalized application that involves driving signs, we had to create local versions for each country – very similar to writing code for IE and for Firefox…
Driving direction – that always amazes me. The world is split to about 34% live in right hand traffic countries and 66% live in left hand traffic countries (according to Wikipedia). This is such a big historical standard failure! it forces car companies to produce different versions of cars to meet both standards!
In London it’s funny to see drivers from other EU countries driving their right-sided cars and trying to understand how to enter the roundabout. Actually it’s not that funny if they enter the roundabout in the wrong direction – life can be lost! and it’s all because of un-standardization…
The IE vs. FF issue seems less important now, doesn’t it?
Electricity – the differences in electricity methods around the world is astonishing – 110W, 220W, plug with 2 holes, with 3 holes, with wide holes, with thin holes…… huh? why?
It’s like every country developed electricity by itself and didn’t tell the others until they developed it as well. do I hear someone say “Microsoft and Netscape!”?
In conclusion, our world is full of un-standardization – from the language we talk to Internet development. There are much more examples than the ones I’ve brought here – shoe and shirt sizes, Km and Miles, Kg and Pounds, Meters and Feet, money and more. Although it might be upsetting to meet all standards it also has one big advantage – it creates so many jobs! consequently it helps the world’s economy!
So Microsoft actually helps the world. Yes.
All the best,