Here’s an opinion: The Web is about being accessible to all – it is not, nor should it be, the domain of any one operating system, organisation or web browser. There are a good set of international standards which determine how information is delivered to and presented by browsers. Most – no, make that, “nearly all” – browsers are compliant with those standards, within a few degrees of buggishness and interpretation. So making a site work with these is a matter of tweaking by degree, not kind. There is of course one notable exception, and that (again, “of course”) is Microsoft. And here we do appear to have a combination of conspiracy AND cock-up: Microsoft are trying to drive/keep the industry in thrall to a proprietary browser and the related server architecture. They are also guilty of producing a product that, in terms of compliance to standards, is full of bugs, ommissions and misinterpretations of best practice. Whether those are driven by corporate decision, gratuitous disregard or blind ignorance is another matter. By whatever means though, its browsers display a moderately cavalier disregard for standards and are of such a bug-ridden nature that making a site work consistently requires delving into an underworld of hacks, tweaks and rewrites that are sufficient to cause apoplexy or death-by-boredom in any thinking organism. Approximately 40% of the development time for this site has been spent in trying to implement fixes and work-arounds for Microsoft’s browsers. In comparison, tweaking for all other browsers has been, in most cases, a matter of minutes.
In order to tread the fine line of compromise between high-handed disregard for poor design and monopolistic practice and preventing the many users of such products from actually accessing these sites, we’ve gone for the “greatest good of the greatest number” and made everything work with W3C DOM-based browsers and the later versions of Internet Explorer, on Windows and Mac. But please do consider this, by preference, an ABM site: Anything But Microsoft. If they ever learn and decide to create standards-compliant browsers, then that’s just fine and dandy. In the meantime, I look forward to the day when the world’s web designers bring a class action against them, to claim for the time, brain cells and money lost in trying to make their bloody browsers work. Me, I’m off to ride my motorcycle.