Leaving Las Vegas (er, the IE team)

After many years, and a lot of releases, I have left the Internet Explorer team.

As IE8 was wrapping up, I realized that a more compelling role for me was mapping out where Microsoft as a whole needs to go with the open web platform, rather than being one of the people who focuses on delivering Internet Explorer on a day-to-day basis.  I remain, as ever, super-passionate about the open web platform; focusing on delivering IE versions was not always aligning with that passion.

Luckily, I found a great team to work on – I’ll be working in the Developer Division (a first for me), on the team that works on JavaScript but also has a broader charter to help make the open web platform great. 

What does this mean?  From the outside, some things will certainly change – I’m no longer an appropriate person, for example, to give talks on specifically about IE – but a lot of things won’t.  I still expect to attend and participate in a fair number of web conferences, and still plan to speak at a number of them – but not just about IE.  I still intend to continue as HTML WG chair, at least for the time being – in fact, as part of focusing more holistically on the web platform as a whole (and defocusing on IE product delivery), I expect I’ll start participating more in a couple of other groups.  I will still maintain a close relationship with the IE team as part of my new role, as well.  There are some amazing people on the IE team, and although I’ll miss being a part of that team, I’m comforted by knowing that I’ll still be working with them on a weekly if not daily basis, as we have a shared goal of making the web platform great.

I’m optimistic that this new role will give me some freedom to focus on what’s really needed in the open web platform, and the freedom to be more open about what I’m doing as my role evolves.  Part of that includes posting more frequently on my blog.  🙂  So feel free to comment, ask questions, whatever, and I’ll answer as best I can.



Sam Ruby

As he announced, Sam Ruby (my co-chair on the HTML WG) is expecting an offer to work for Microsoft.  As a couple of comments have mentioned, this raises the question of both HTML WG co-chairs being Microsoft employees.

Contrary to what Lawrence commented, I don’t think Sam was targeting me with his post.  Sam discussed this with me prior to interviewing with Microsoft; obviously, I think it would be great for Microsoft, and I’d be delighted to work even more closely with Sam, but I did not originally suggest this to Sam (or canvass him).

That said, Sam and I did broach the subject of both co-chairs working for Microsoft, and I think we both agree that it wouldn’t be a great idea beyond the short term.  I think we are both planning to see how this works out, and resolve that issue if Sam does come to work for Microsoft.  I don’t have a particular bias on what plan we work out, so I’m looking forward to resolving that if/when it’s an issue.


Seven Things About Me

I was tagged for the “seven things about me” meme by my friend Daniel Glazman.

  1. I’m painfully shy. No, really, I am. I’m uncomfortable taking up the sales clerks’ time. Fer reals, yeah. Public speaking took a little while for me to be comfortable with, but somehow after the first couple of times of getting up in front of a hundred+ people, it’s not hard anymore. But I still don’t like calling people on the phone, because I always feel like I’m interrupting them.
  2. The hair DOES mean I was in a rock band. Before our daughter was born, I played in a band, in which my wife was lead singer. Bonus points if you can tell me 1) what instrument I played, and 2) what instrument I was actually trained on.
  3. And speaking of the hair – I wear my hair long for two reasons: 1) My mother always cut my hair when I was a kid and a teenager, and since she was the one with the scissors, she got to cut it whatever length she wanted. I’m still rebelling against that.  For her part, she still says “you know, I still have the scissors…I could just give you a little trim…” every time I see her. 2) I’m just too lazy to go get it cut. It’s been six years or so since my last haircut. I’ll probably try dreadlocks before I ever get it cut short.
  4. My wife and I don’t own a microwave. We had one in the apartment we lived in when we got married, and when we moved to Seattle, we just never got one. We really don’t miss it, despite tons of people expressing incredulity that we could have a young child and NOT have a microwave. (Note this is probably national – Americans love their microwaves.) We keep a tea kettle on the corner of the stove at all times.
  5. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer back in 1996, which is why I have the scar across the base of my neck. Thankfully, thyroid cancer is the kind you want to have if you have to have cancer, because it’s very treatable, but I do have to take thyroid hormone replacements daily.
  6. I actually started my career working on a pioneering open source project – NCSA Telnet. It gave me some grounding in the good sides as well as the challenges of open source; but despite this, I don’t actually believe open source is always the right answer.
  7. However, I DO believe being open about goals, priorities and plans is nearly always a good idea.

Anyhow, tagging people – hmm.

  • MsCyra because she needs to get out more. 🙂
  • PEte LePage because, well, just because.
  • My cousin Tim because he pointed out I hadn’t blogged in the two-week timeline.
  • Molly because, well, we can ALWAYS use new anecdotes from Molly. And I miss seeing her more often.
  • Matt Crowley because I’m gonna drag the IE team out in public one at a time if I have to.
  • Arun from Mozilla because I’ve gotta reflect some love back at my Mozilla friends.
  • Geoffrey Sneddon because he’s crossed me one time too many. 🙂 (Okay, not really, he’s got at least a few dozen crossings left.)

A New Year, a New Leaf

Seriously, I know I’m awful at consistently blogging.  A lot of that is because it requires me to be in “public filter” mode, which is very time-consuming and stressful.  But if you want to see consistent updates, then you should be following me on twitter.

But I’m going to take a stab at blogging again, anyway.  I thought I’d lead in with my goals for a new year – I hate the term “resolution”.

  1. Get in a happy place work-wise.  It’s been no real secret that I’ve not been happy professionally for a while; I’m working on addressing why that is.  I can’t (obviously) say a whole lot more about it right now – but if you see me next year, and I’m still bitching about the same things, smack me.  🙂 
  2. Dive more.  It’s been hard for me to get out diving consistently ever since my main dive buddy Don had to stop diving for health reasons – he and I made such a great buddy team that my bar for a good buddy is very high.  I’m rarely happier than when I’m diving, though; so I really need to make it happen.  Unfortunately I caught a cold and had to bail out on last weekend’s dive boat, but I’m kicking that into gear with a trip to my favorite site on January 24th.
  3. Take more pictures.  I love photography, and I especially love that feeling I get when I am happy with a picture I took.  Other people may think it’s crap, of course.  Maybe I should call this one “take more creative risks.”
  4. Be more open.  This is hard (see above), but it can be easy to forget that those outside Microsoft have to (and do) make up their own stories (about actions and motivations) if those inside don’t share.  I’m going to try to do better at this; for starters, I have a goal of writing a blog post here at least once every other week.  (I’m hoping to do a lot better than that, but we’ll see.)
  5. Lose weight.  You knew I’d have to throw in a standard NY Resolution sooner or later.  Seriously, though – my weight is tied to my stress level, so this in some ways is a symptom rather than a cause.

Overall, I’m not writing this (publicly) because I like the attention – I’m writing it to reflect on it myself, and more importantly, to have it to look back on next year.  A few weeks ago, I ran across a post I made back in May of 2006 (http://blogs.msdn.com/cwilso/archive/2006/05/11/595536.aspx), and it helped a few things click; I’d like to set myself up for another of those.  So this is really functioning as my diary.

Hey!  Stop reading my diary!


Fonts: embedding vs. linking

I wanted to chime in with a few important points in response to the comments on Bill Hill’s post over on the IEBlog.

There are a few people who are fundamentally missing the point: for example, user kL who comments: “Please, don’t push this crappy format. XORing of files is not a legal solution.” Actually, kL, EOT is a legal solution – the EOT format was specifically on the table when the “embedding” bit in OpenType was designed, and font foundries know what it does and how. And by-and-large, they’re happy with it, or they turn off the embedding bit, and then EOT will not work for that font.

kL goes on to say “We can already break law/leech bandwidth by (hot)linking copyrighted images, copyrighted MP3s, etc. Fonts are no different and DRM won’t help here a bit.” You’re quite right, kL, that this will not prevent lawbreaking. However, it DOES give a way to LEGALLY use commercial fonts (those that allow embedding, anyway); directly posting the .TTF or .OTF file on your web server will violate your license for commercial fonts (okay, perhaps there are some fonts out there somewhere that allow this in their EULA, but I’ve never found one.) Linking to raw .TTF/.OTF files WILL, in fact, encourage font piracy, as vastly more commercial fonts will be placed (unadorned) online, where they can be easily pilfered.

Perhaps I should ask Apple how happy they are if I post their fonts on a web server?

[A side note to the inimitable Joe Clark: I’m not actually the head of the browser team. Just some guy with a perverse passion for doing this. And it wasn’t just “clean this up and make this validate” – it was more like “Bill, you can’t ship this crap that Publisher spit out. Let me show you how you’re SUPPOSED to code…” followed by one late night, and then I had to drop it to focus on something else. I’m still hoping to finish the clean recode this week.]

By the way, I don’t particularly care that Acid3 uses direct linking to TTF files; that just goes to show that it is duplicitous to make a “standards test” that tests things that are only Working Drafts of low priority to the working group (as per the CSS WG’s table of priorities). Trying to circumvent the standards process by throwing whatever test you want into a so-called standards test won’t make us implement anything faster.

I’ve been clear on this to the CSS WG, so I suppose I should be here too – we (Microsoft) should NOT support direct TTF/OTF embedding, unless 1) there is some check that the font intended that use to be allowed, which I don’t think there currently is (as it needs to refer to the license agreement), AND 2) other browsers also implement a system that actually ENABLES commercial fonts – those that are allowed to be embedded, but cannot be legally placed directly on a server – to be used.As I also stated to the WG – I don’t personally even care that much if that system is EOT as it is today; I’d be okay with building a new system if the details of EOT were a sticking point. But I want to use commercial fonts on my web pages, I want that to work interoperably across browsers, and I want to not have to violate my license for the fonts I use (and get sued for it) in order to make that happen. A solution that only works for freeware fonts is not a solution.

Is that too much to ask?