Right now there’s a bit of a furor going on over Chris Wilson’s appointment to chair the new W3C HTML Working Group. To put it in perspective, Roger of 456 Berea Street has a blogpost entitled “New W3C HTML Working Group chaired by Microsoft” which is incredibly indignant in tone, and many would say understandably so. I’m no fan of Microsoft’s tactics in the marketplace. However, I wish also to point out, Roger, that Chris Wilson is a person who works for Microsoft, he is not Microsoft. There is a difference, although most people can’t see it or don’t want to see it.
I know you’re going to think I’m nuts, but this may not be a bad thing. Chris is the ONE person at Microsoft who seems to be LISTENING to the dev community. I base this on his blogposts on the MS Dev blog during the development and testing of IE7, and his responses to the often heated responses to his posts. He at all times showed himself to be professional, and respectful of other people’s viewpoints, and took to heart what the community at large was saying (and sometimes screaming.) He’s the one who led the team to improve standards compliance at IE7, he’s the one who enlisted the imput of the css-discuss community in bugbusting for the IE7 betas, and took the buglist at PIE seriously and got his team to damn near (if not quite completely) wipe it out in IE7 final.
In other words, if he didn’t work for Microsoft NO ONE would be arguing about his qualifications. He’s one of the good guys. How he ever ended up working for MS is beyond me, but I for one am glad he’s there, since without him we would have a much, much nastier IE7.
Is this issue controversial? You betcha, but not because it’s Chris. It’s because of who his employer is. And if he does end up chairing (instead of stepping down in the furor over his appointment) I actually think he’ll do a good job. I also think there will be a whole lot more scrutiny of MS over standards compliance, and they’ll have a lot fewer reasons and opportunities to buck the standards if Chris is at the helm, since the potential for bad PR will increase exponentially if they buck the standards that one of their own is helping to create. It could actually end up being a GOOD thing, surprising as that would be. And though I don’t think Chris would do so, even if he did try to push a MS agenda onto the working group, there will be too many brilliant folks microexamining everything he’s doing for it to be successful.
Interesting times ahead.
[tags]Microsoft, Web Standards, W3C HTML Working Group, Chris Wilson[/tags]