New M$HTML Extensions (or "Why Microsoft is Stupid")
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 14:48:22 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: New M$HTML Extensions (or "Why Microsoft is Stupid")
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Keith Bostic)
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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tomas Dylan Clark)
Subject: New M$HTML Extensions (or "Why Microsoft is Stupid")
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Roman Colliseum, where today
Marc Andreessen and Bill Gates will do battle to the death, wielding only
the latest versions of their browsers, Netscape 2.0 and Internet Explorer
Sadly, no compromise could be reached in this matter since pages
created using the extensions that Netscape and Microsoft have thought up
are -- yes, ladies and gentlemen -- almost completely incompatible! Since
both companies chose to ignore standards in the interest of commercial
gain, the W3 Consortium decided to have them fight it out,
Now, Netscape's latest extensions (and their former extensions)
are available, albeit a bit hard to find and not very clearly explained,
But where are Microsoft's? Unfortunately it seems that in the rush
to get Internet Explorer 2.0 out before Netscape 2.0, they neglected to
provide any documentation on how web authors can use (or not use) their
extensions. So I had to go digging through their site, and lo and behold
I found a page that was meant to show off their new extensions.
Unfortunately, in my Netscape 1.1 it was illegible garbage -- not even the
plain images were rendering properly.
But thanks to "View Source..." I was able to examine this URL:
Warning: the following may be an unpleasant experience for some,
especially HTML purists and other defenders of proper markup. I found it
rather gut-wrenching myself.
Here's their body tag:
<BODY BGCOLOR=#FFFFFF BACKGROUND="/windows/ie/demotile.gif"
TEXT=#000000 LINK=#000066 VLINK=#808080 ALINK=#FF0000
Basically like Netscape extensions. But what's the
BGPROPERTIES=FIXED attribute at the end? Does this signal IE to override
any preferences the user may have chosen or something? Oh yes, that would
really be in the spirit of the WWW. The next line:
<FONT FACE=Arial SIZE=2>
They've had this since IE 1.0, I believe. It's closed by a </FONT>
tag at the end of the document. I assume that faces revert to some sort
of default if the user doesn't have Arial in his or her system. I also
assume that this little feature will make porting to other (non-MS)
systems a bit difficult. But once that's taken care of, hey, if we all
buy the "MS WebFontPak" it'll be fine, right?
<BGSOUND SRC="nature.wav" LOOP=infinite>
This is where I began to giggle hysterically and curl up in the
corner. Somebody tell me if I'm wrong -- does this download a file and play
it over, and over, and over? How charming. I wonder if there's a way to
disable this feature. If there's not, there's no way I'm ever using IE,
since I know the temptation is going to be too great for many web authors-
who probably don't know how to compress sounds very well (I don't) and
who'll probably use nice big formats like
.wav and .au... somebody kill me.
<FONT COLOR=#5A8C29 SIZE=7><B>Ecosoft</B><FONT SIZE=1>TM</FONT></FONT>
Ooh, I can change the color of my text in the middle of the
document?? Unfortunately to anyone not using IE 2.0, the text is still
black, and the background is still a black-stone design. Illegible! But
who cares? I mean, you could have done this with stylesheets (if more than
a few browsers supported them) and not caused any problems with other
browsers. But noooooo...
<IMG DYNSRC="/windows/ie/finweb.avi" Width=50 Height=50
ALT="Inline Video Clip - Get IE 2.0 Beta!" LOOP=5 HSPACE=50
Here's their new inline AVI tag. Thing I want to know is, why AVI?
Both MPEG and QT are more commonly used and in many people's opinons,
superior (I don't know enough myself to pronounce judgement on AVI.) But,
of course, this is completely different from Netscape's <EMBED> tag, and
neither browser can see the other. I really, really hope that the LOOP=5
and START= MOUSEOVER attributes mean that this video clip doesn't download
and/or play when the page loads... that would be a nightmare. It still
remains to be seen exactly how <EMBED> works in this regard, but it has
something to do with double-clicking.
Of course, <EMBED> does inline Quicktime, Director, Acrobat, as
well as standard IMG stuff... plus it has a close tag which allows the
"ALT" text inside to be HTML markup. So that's an edge up for Netscape,
if they ever get their browser out. And Marc Andreessen strikes a nasty
blow to Bill Gates' pocket protector! That's gotta hurt, ladies and
gentlemen... but wait... Gates is pulling bags of money out of his back
pocket and whaling Andreessen about the head and shoulders with them! Oh
On to the next new kewl feature:
<MARQUEE WIDTH=35% BGCOLOR=#F9F9F9>Special Web Sale
Price on CD-ROMs!</MARQUEE>
Not sure about this, but I believe's it's supposed to work like
<BANNER> in HTML 3.0. The enclosed text, I suppose, will show up in a
little static box (with background color F9F9F9) at the top, or maybe
bottom, of the screen and won't be scrolled off. Just like <BANNER>, I
They could have just used <BANNER> and stuck to the spec and
supported more browsers, but nooooo... they have to be new and different.
That's probably why they call their Bookmarks "Favorites" instead...
As it is, Netscape's <FRAMESET> tags are more powerful, but harder
to use. Thankfully, Netscape chose to make a tag called <NOFRAMES> that
can contain standard HTML for viewing on non-Netscape browsers. So you
could duplicate the frame effect you're looking for with tables, etc.
I think that's all of the new kewl whiz-bang features. VRML won't
be supported until some time next year, I believe. Of course, in the PR
they list some other cool new features like:
"Favorites: Not only does the Microsoft Internet Explorer
automatically keep track of the sites you ve recently visited, it also
allows you to create Favorites. Favorites provide a quick and easy way
back to your favorite places on the Internet."
Oh my god, that is so cool! It keeps track of the sites you've
recently visited? I've been looking for years for a browser that could do
that! And you can mark pages that you like and come back to them? What a
GODSEND! What other features do they have, Bob?
"HTML Standards: Support for all of the standard Internet HTML
tags, including right align, centering, tables, client pull, etc. Also,
the Internet Explorer provides access to FTP and gopher servers."
Gee, what standard is client pull in? Guess they're a bit confused
over there. They didn't even manage to convert the smart quotes on a lot
of their pages. But hey, they have FTP and gopher access! I've been
waiting FOREVER for that!
They have some other stuff (mostly patterned after Netscape) such
as SSL, some speed improvements that look like they did themselves,
integrated e-mail (also in Netscape 2.0), cookies, and a news reader. It
also supports their new security standard that I guess they're hoping to
take Netscape's SSL down with.
But, to close this exciting tour up, I'd just like to say that
this is all completely ridiculous. Microsoft is telling people to create
pages that 80% (or whatever Netscape has) of the Web users out there won't
be able to see. How many Web authors are going to use these new wacky
extensions? And if not many people use them, it's not so kewl anymore, is
it? I really don't know what they were thinking.
It's still the case that if you want to support most browsers,
you have to write plain old HTML 2.0. Which is probably a good thing.
Netscape has provided some forward compatibility with their
<EMBED></EMBED> and <NOFRAMES></NOFRAMES> containers, but Microsoft is
I guess they don't want anyone with other browsers to see stuff
that's designed for Internet Explorer -- that would fit quite nicely with
the world domination/crush all competition policy, wouldn't it? But it
doesn't fit in on the World Wide Web.
They got it out fast, but they're headed down a dead-end road.
And it's only for users of Windows 95, remember? Windows may have the bulk
of the personal computing market, but UNIX and Mac have a much stronger
presence on the Web than they do in everyday business stuff. And which
browser supports all three platforms?
Wham! Andreessen counters by slamming a Sun Sparcstation into
Gates' groin! There's blood and broken eyeglasses everywhere, folks!
At least I hope so. Netscape may be responsible for some
atrocities and monstrosities, but they're still preferable to Microsoft.
If Internet Explorer or Blackbird becomes the standard, I'm moving to
Canada. Oh no, wait... that's what I was going to do if Pat Robertson got
elected to the presidency. I guess I'll, uh... move to gopher.
P.S. Sorry this is so long. I'm impressed that you read all of
it. I just, yknow, felt a need to vent.
© 1995 Peter Langston