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Sunday 9 December 2018

Edge and Chromium, a different analysis

I am quite surprised by all the public reactions I read about Microsoft's last browser moving to Chromium. I think most if not all commenters have missed the real point, a real point that seems to me way bigger than Edge. Even Mozilla's CEO Chris Beard has not mentioned it. People at Microsoft must be smiling and letting go loud french « Ahlala...». Let me remind everyone that a browser is, from a corporate point of view,  a center of cost and not a center of revenue; if you're really nitpicking, you can call it a center of indirect revenue. So let's review and analyse the facts:

  • I am surprised by the codename supposedly attached to that future version of Microsoft's browser, Anaheim. That codename is not confirmed by Microsoft but I find it quite surprising for a web browser... First, Anaheim is in California and not in Washington State where most of the browser stuff is supposed to happen; yes, it's a detail but still, it's a surprising one. Secondly, Anaheim is really a weird codename in the history of browser codenames at Microsoft. So what happened in Anaheim, CA? A decisive meeting?
  • The blog article about Edge and Chromium was published by a Corporate Vice President of the Windows division. That's absolutely not normal for a browser-only decision.
  • Edge's and IE's market share are, sorry to my dear Microsoft friends, not enough to care that much about such a change. Yes, the browser ecosystem is like a real ecosystem and the lack of genetic diversity that implies EdgeHTML's retirement (see also immediately below) is a global concern. But from a business point of view, nothing to see here, sorry.
  • The blog article and the Github readme page (most people have not seen that one...) say Edge will switch to Chromium. They don't say that EdgeHTML will die. As a matter of fact, EdgeHTML itself is mentioned in the blog article's title and only there, and not at all in the GH page.
  • Microsoft's CEO is currently impulsing a change that sounds to me like a new Samsung's « Change everything but your wife and children ». The tech debt at Microsoft is immense and Nadella rang the rush bell.

So I think the whole thing is not about Edge. The microcosm reacted, and reacted precisely as expected (again, probable laughters in Redmond), but this is really about Windows and the core of activity of Microsoft. Impulsing a change like a move to Chromium and using it as a public announcement by a Windows CVP, is, beyond technical and business choices, a political signal. It says « expect the unexpected ».

I think Microsoft Windows as we know it is about to change and change drastically. Windows as we know it could even die and Microsoft move to another new, different operating system, Edge+Chromium's announcement being only the top of the iceberg. And it's well known that 9/10th of an iceberg remain below water surface.

The gravity center of the company is then about to change too; Nadella probably knows too well the impact of the Windows division on the rest of the company during the Vista years and he certainly knows too well the inter-division wars at Microsoft. It could be highly time to shake the whole thing. As I told Dean Hachamovitch long ago, « you need a commando and what you have now is a mexican army with a lot of generals and not enough soldiers ». Still valid?

Of course, I could be partially or even totally wrong. But I don't think so. This announcement is weird on too many counts, and it's most certainly on purpose. It seems to be telling us « guys, read between the lines, the big message is right there ».

Saturday 22 December 2012

Microsoft Expression Web

Here is what I wrote about Microsoft Expression Web five and a half years ago. I have worked almost all my professionnal life on markup-based Wysiwyg editors. And because the this is a small community working on very, very complex apps, I was really sad yesterday to read that Microsoft Expression Web is no more. To the people who originally built that application and the Expression Web team at Microsoft, my sincere regrets and wishes for your own future.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Microsoft reloaded at the BUILD conference

As expected (at least by me), Windows 8 and IE10 will allow to write HTML5+CSS3+JS-based desktop applications. And when I say CSS3, I really mean it since Grid Layout and certainly Flex Box Model seem to be included (very certainly vendor-prefixed for the time being). I said it multiple times in the past, IE10 and its rendering engine are going to kick ass, allowing a brand new class of apps for Windows.. In other words, Microsoft is back in the pack.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Thanks for allowing a whole new set of CSS hacks, IE9 :-(

@glazou UUUUUUUUUHHHH????????? It's a joke I presume ?!?
RT @ie9bugs: #ie9 has a limit of 4095 selectors per CSS file

@sgalineau @glazou Nope, not a joke. Up to 31 top-level stylesheets,
each with up to 31 imports, up to 4 levels deep; 4,096 rules
per stylesheet.

@glazou @sgalineau I just cannot believe Microsoft still has products
with such hard limits

Update: same thing for dynamically added sheets or rules

Update again;

@cwilso @sgalineau IE still has that limit?  I thought it was removed
 a couple of versions ago.  @glazou - you can blame my IE3/4
 impl for that.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Is IE9 a modern browser?

Paul rouget wrote a lenghty article about IE9 that causes some noise on the Interweb... Paul is right on many points and wrong on few ones too. The main problem is related to "modernity".

Where he is right:

  • the market is almost ready for some cool new stuff (some CSS3, APIs, Threads, WebGL, ...) that are not in IE9... The users (hear Web authors) want these cool things deployed all over the place as soon as possible.
  • the tests IE9 uses for its marketing are just not relevant, I already said it once here on this blog, we're still there

Where he is wrong:

  • IE comes back from limbos. IE 7/8 was harming the whole market by its old architecture and standards' support, its painful layout bugs, and its still large market share. The desktop browser market was made of three modern rendering engines, Gecko WebKit and Presto, and a dinosaur, IE.
  • IE 9 is back in the game; granted it does not implement the latest cool kids on the block, but it's clear to all IE9 is back in the market leading pack instead of remaining miles behind.
  • the IE team went in a short time from a dying product to a new architecture that can compete with the other browsers; no doubt IE10 will try to reach an even better position in the leading pack
  • marketing and engineering are two different beasts; in the CSS WG, we know well that the IE engineering team relies on hundreds of thousands of tests...

So to answer the question Paul used as title of his article and that I borrowed for this one, yes, in my opinion IE9 is a modern browser. No, it's not the most modern browser. But honestly I don't care. The only thing I see is that Microsoft is back in the game after years of painful purgatory, that the IE team has rather brillantly shown they're able to not only implement more modern technologies but also be back at the standardization table with new cool ideas and a fair spirit of competition (let's exclude marketing, ok ?). In other words, competition is good and I guess we all (well, almost all :-) ) welcome back an IE9 being a new danger for its competitors.

And of course Microsoft's marketing is still Microsoft's marketing... And there, Paul is 10000% right :-)

Monday 16 August 2010


Today, Microsoft Internet Explorer is precisely 15 years old. Wooooohooo !!!!

Monday 31 May 2010

Windows7 and an old laptop

This week-end, I reinstalled a rather old laptop, a Dell Latitude D610, that was totally dying under Windows XP sp3. It was so slow that it was almost unusable. Opening an hyperlink from Thunderbird or Instant Messenging gave you enough time to turn on the espresso machine, make a coffee and drink it. Awful. Defrag did nothing, cleanup did not help, there were no useless daemons or software installed. Just dying.

I first added some fresh memory, expanding to 2Gigs, verified it almost did not help XP and then installed the Windows7 diagnosis tool, available from Microsoft's web site;  it reported an issue with the Intel wireless driver and the audio driver. I went to Intel's and Dell's web site to download the two Vista drivers (no specific Windows7 driver available in both cases) and started upgrading to Windows7.

30 minutes later, and after installing the two drivers, the laptop is young again. I mean it's really fast and usable again, and all XP software that were originally installed still run perfectly under 7 (though after a needed reinstallation). I restored all the personal accounts (mail, IM, ...) and could delete the Windows.old directory.

Very nice. Congrats Microsoft.

Bill Gates and the Web

Extract from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's web site:

" You are not permitted to link or shortcut to our Site from your Web site, blog or similar application, without obtaining prior written permission from us. "

Oh, I just made a link to their web site... Oooops. Pffff....

Friday 26 March 2010

String manipulation in IE8/IE9

Working on JSCSSP, I have discovered a rather big issue in string manipulations in IE's javascript engine. Tested with both IE8 and IE9 Preview. I don't have IE7 handy. In some cases, str[i] where str is a string and i a valid index in the string fails and returns "undefined". Extremely strange. String.charAt() still works fine. I've pinged Microsoft about it and they're now working on it. I am currently trying to narrow the bug even better.

Update: I just found the potential root of the bug. I am waiting for MSFT's ack to let you know. Stay tuned

Thursday 18 March 2010

Microsoft, you should be ashamed

Yes. And despite the very nice IE 9 preview that shows real progress on Web Standards. I just found that page that shows, holly miracle, that MSIE9 Preview passes 100% of the tests written by... the IE team and submitted to the W3C. Isn't that cool? Isn't that cool to show that IE9 passes these tests while other browsers don't? It easily forgets that there are thousands of other tests that IE does not pass, that there are tons of specs that Mozilla, Webkit and Opera all implement but not Microsoft...

Not only that but the tables and figures given for non-MSFT browsers are often totally wrong. I just ran the Selectors (MSFT ones) tests with Safari 4.0.5 and all the tests are green. In the summary table, Microsoft says Safari 4.0 passes only 44%... I also ran the DOM Level 2 Core tests with Firefox 3.6 and it shows 100% green while MSFT says 89%. Some tests even say Firefox does not support 'border-radius' but the property is STILL vendor-prefixed at this time so the test is irrelevant! With the vendor-prefixed version - and that's the only one existing at this time - Firefox would show a 100% support...

Even worse, some tests, like the "@import inside @media" test, seem to me wrong. '@media screen { @import "foo.css" }' should result in one @media at-rule with no valid style rule inside. It's then perfectly normal to have document.styleSheets[0].cssRules.length == 1...

Or test 'syntax for background-repeat' is also wrong because getComputedStyle() is called on testDiv but testDiv does not exist in the JavaScript context !! The 'var testDiv = document.getElementById("testDiv");' line is missing !!!

Let's take now test ':nth-child() and comments'. It says wrong for FF but the selector tested is

div div:nth-child(/*COMMENT*/2/*COMMENT*/n/*COMMENT*/+/*COMMENT*/1/*COMMENT*/)/*COMMENT*/

and that is wrong because CSS grammar says comments are valid anywhere BETWEEN TOKENS and the CSS WG has always discussed the "2n" here being tokenized as a dimension. We never ever thought of an author being able to insert a comment between the number and the "n". It probably does not make sense anyway and it's probably something the CSS WG should clarify because allowing comments here will again complexify nth-child() parsing that is already complex enough, and MSFT should not test at this time before clarification - and at least decision - happens.

Same thing for test "A negative border width property should not be valid" !!! Did they check the JS console performing the tests ?!? How many wrong tests in their list !

WTF?!? Who dared writing a browser chart like that page? Jason Upton, who signed that page, I don't know you but I don't like at all your methods, they stink like the darkest moments of 1997/1998 at Microsoft.

Come on Microsoft, clean a bit that page or suffer other tests comparisons...

Update 19-mar-2010: SVG in IE9...

Tuesday 19 January 2010

MSIE hits french national TV

As you probably already know, Germany's and France's CERTs issued a warning about MSIE (all versions) recommending to ditch it in favor of other browsers. Although this kind of recommendation is no more than business as usual in front of security alerts (you can easily find security reports about Mozilla recommending to temporarily ditch Firefox), this time is different because it just hit the national television... See http://jt.france2.fr/8h/ at time 09:20. The words are really strong...

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Microsoft, SVG

Microsoft just announced they're joining the SVG Working Group. That is great news for Web Standards and great news for web interoperability. I sincerely hope Internet Explorer has the canvas element and SVG in its roadmap. Remember: Flash Delenda Est.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

The Microsoft case comes to an end

That's the title of Jon S. von Tetzchner's last blog entry. I have a question: will Opera also trigger an EU investigation about Apple because of Safari on OS X? Or because Apple does not allow third-party browsers on the iPhone (a ridiculous decision IMHO)?

Sunday 8 November 2009

Windows7 ad on french TV

I just saw for the first time an ad for Windows7 on french television. Let me be clear : it's one of the most ridiculous ad for software I have seen in my geek's life. First the scenario is lame, really lame. It's a guy speaking in his house's garden, a tomato in hand and he has an idea. That idea materializes into windows7. And at the crowning moment, the guy says "With Windows7, I now feel safe". I did not jump on that myself but the person seated next to me (not a geek) reacted almost instantaneously to that message saying "Uuuh ? Now ??? So that means older versions of Windows were not safe ?".

Honestly, who made that ad and who validated it for release ? Wow... Just wow.

Thursday 15 October 2009

GRRRR or Microsoft Bad Practices (ad nauseum) #2

Arrived at the office, turned on my desktop computer. Starts (in that order) mIRC, MSN, Thunderbird and Firefox. And boom, the keyword.URL pref is back to Microsoft Bing search engine...

Congratualtions Microsoft, you just lost one user : I have permanently removed your software from my computer and will remove all occurences of MSN Messenger from all my other machines, Windows or Mac. Well done.

Update: OOOOOH and this big piece of shit (sorry but I am fed up with Microsoft here) changed my Firefox Home Page to MSN without asking and without warning ; I made sure I denied that request when I installed MSN. Micorsoft, you deeply suck here.Don't wonder why I moved to Mac and Mac OS X ?

Wednesday 14 October 2009

GRRRR or Microsoft Bad Practices (ad nauseum)

My MacBookPro being away from me for light repair, I have installed the last version of MSN Messenger on my windows box since I need it for professionnal reasons. After installation, keywords typed in my Firefox's awesomebar were redirected to Bing instead of my personal choice, Google... Uh? I never wanted that, never agreed on that.

This is a real shame. Not only the MSN Messenger's installer never told me about it (I unchecked all choices of that kind), but I never granted Microsoft the right to modify my PERSONAL profile for another application and I wonder if legally, at least here in France, that could not be assimilated to piracy. I had to dive into about:config to reset the preference keyword.URL.

After that, I opened the MSIE8 options, found a button to tweak my search engines settings, found an unchecked (by default) checkbox preventing applications to tweak my search engine settings. WTF ?!?!? (don't miss the checkbox's label, that's a bit of something...) I have to declare that I don't want apps to touch my user's profiles ?!? That's just insane, and that pref should not exist or at least it should be checked by default.

Microsoft, you're painful, really really painful, and you're stupid too ; and I am polite here. My thoughts are MUCH harsher than my words. Please stop and never do that again.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Microsoft, Word, i4i, XML

Microsoft ordered to stop selling Word... And basically most Office products and Visio and and and.

First personal reaction is shock ; second reaction is "oh wait, I4I ????" ; third reaction is "oooooh shit".

Just for the record, and that's something the CNet article does not mention, I4I acquired Grif's assets when it collapsed... Oh, and my old boss Jean Paoli (XML 1.0 co-editor) moved from Grif to Microsoft a while before that.

I4I filed the patent in july 1994, i.e. at a time the idea of a unified DOM and DOM api started percolating slowly into the SGML community. As a matter of fact, the patent is not about the Web but really about SGML. Please note USPTO took four years to validate the patent !!! Four years, that's more than a generation in our web wold. In 1994, the Web was still almost confidential. In 1998, the Web had already changed the world.

I am unfortunately not sure this patent fight is a patent troll. Patents on software are incredibly harmful, they are a too weak shield for innovators that use them and a burden on innovators that don't carry the patent. Let's compare codes, not ideas.

Thursday 5 March 2009

ARF !!!!

Sorry, but I find this hilarious !!!

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Obama's blackberry

So MIcrosoft is saying that Obama's blackberry is a security risk. This is such a joke. Let me tell you a true story about Microsoft Windows... A true story that did not happen to a third party but happened to me...

A few years ago, I was in Seattle for a CSS WG meeting hosted by Microsoft in Redmond. Like most of the CSS WG members, I was statying in a motel. Wifi did not exist at that time. Hotel rooms did not have ethernet access either. We relied on modem access (Hixie, that's the meeting when I told you "you're too young and fanatic and I was the same a few years ago", was it 1998 ?).  I used my laptop's internal modem to reach Electricité de France's network, retrieved my email, replied to urgent messages, and disconnected everything. I checked twice that the connection was dropped. Then I called my wife. And I heard that beeeeeeeptrrrrrtrtrtr that is so specific of a modem connection in the phone. I noticed I left my laptop's phone link connected and I immediately disconnected it. My phone was connected to something. Something was stealing data from my computer. When I came back to EDF R&D campus, I paid a little visit to the local security adviser and told him about this. He laughed. He laughed a lot. I still remember his words  "come on, you're so naive, we all know about that... Never trust again Microsoft Windows and a phone or internet connection in a hotel in the US, ok?".

And Obama 's blackberry is unsecure because it's canadian ? BWAHAHAHAHA !!!!!

Friday 9 January 2009

xkcd on Windows 7

I just cannot stop laughing !!!! ROFL !!!!!

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