The question must seem absurd. After all, Microsoft is a member of the W3C and an active participant in the development of web standards. Each new Microsoft product announcement seems to include more standards compliant buzzwords than the last. True, Microsoft doesn’t always deliver complete standards compliance, but nobody’s perfect. At least they’re trying. Or are they?
While Microsoft may pay lip service to web standards, a look at their product line suggests they have no interest in supporting the standards they’ve helped create. Face it, xHTML and CSS just aren’t as sexy as .Net and web services. Microsoft clearly has other priorities and a closer investigation of the facts seems to indicate that support for web standards is hardly a blip on their corporate radar.
Allow me to elaborate with a few examples:
Microsoft.com: Any discussion about Microsoft’s support for web standards should begin with their corporate website. If Microsoft cared about web standards, you would expect them to use those standards on their own website. You’d probably even expect their home page to validate (or at least come close). Instead, Microsoft can’t even be bothered to declare a doctype.
I realize valid HTML is a controversial topic. We all know how hard it is to keep a site valid. One day your site validates, the next day some stray entity or attribute throws your site out of compliance. My point is that those of us who are serious about web standards make an effort. Microsoft’s failure to declare a doctype on their home page indicates they’ve made no effort.
Dig deeper into the source code of Microsoft.com and you’ll find one coding atrocity after another (font tags, nested tables, and embedded images that simulate a styled list, etc.). It’s as if the developers of Microsoft.com have no clue what CSS is, let alone how to use it. To Microsoft’s credit, they seem to be using their own tools to create and maintain their website. My problem with those tools is that they encourage the worst sort of design habits. They certainly don’t encourage the use of web standards. Which leads me to . . .