Web Standards Group Criticizes IE 5

A group of Web developers is criticizing Microsoft Corp.’s latest browser release, saying Internet Explorer 5 falls short of fully supporting key Web standards.

George Olsen, project leader for the Web Standards Project, characterized IE 5 as an “opportunity lost” for Microsoft to come out in support of approved Web standards.

“We realize that many business considerations go into selecting a release date, but we wish Microsoft had delayed Internet Explorer 5.0’s release to focus on getting standards support right. That would have benefitted Web developers, Web users and Microsoft itself,” Olsen said.

Olsen said Microsoft has forced Web developers to continue using “extensive and expensive” workarounds and debugging to make their Web sites work with Internet Explorer.

“We’d hoped the latest round of browsers would take the opportunity to get things right. We’re disheartened because Microsoft helped (the World Wide Web Consortium) develop the very standards that they’ve failed to implement in their browser.

“We’re also dismayed to see Microsoft continue adding proprietary extensions to these standards when support for essentials remains unfinished.”

Among the standards the group says IE 5 still skirts are cascading style sheets, a standard designed to give developers precise control over page layout.

The group said Netscape Communications Corp.’s new Gecko layout engine that is slated to go into Navigator 5.0 has complied with standards tests conducted by the W3C.

The developers also expressed concern over Microsoft’s support of the Document Object Model, which lets developers use scripting languages to manipulate items on Web pages. They also said IE 5.0’s implementation of Extensible Markup Language and Extensible Stylesheet Language falls short.

The Web Standards Project said IE does appear to support most of the language in HTML 4.0, although they say it does not contain some features designed to make the Web more accessible to persons with disabilities.

“We’re disappointed that Internet Explorer 5.0 has not done a better job supporting standards because they have shown that they do have excellent programmers,” Olsen said.

Microsoft Corp. officials could not be reached to comment on the group’s charges.

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