I can’t help but wonder why Joel and others didn't make greater use of Dean Edward’s IE7 at the time. Possible reasons:
- Joel and others hadn’t heard of Dean’s efforts at the time, for whatever reason.
- Browser incompatibility wasn’t so much of an issue in 2004-2005. One way to look at this is that IE’s dominance at the time was substantial enough that developers could get away with requiring IE and the situation has changed enough that this merits revisiting.
- Dean’s efforts were in the wrong direction... people prefer the APIs as Microsoft implements them.
- Dean’s efforts were incomplete, or performed poorly, or was otherwise inadequate.
- Dean’s IE7 was an all or nothing proposition. It would modify the behavior of existing apps, which was unacceptable.
- Applications worked nearly enough without the download that enough people wouldn’t make the effort, and the net result would be one additional platform to support.
- Dean’s efforts, while interesting, didn’t have enough corporate backing to justify a company to depend on it.
- Microsoft, Mozilla, and others work to eliminate their differences. Joel discounts this possibility, and given the progress at WHATWG and the W3C, it is hard to argue with Joel’s assessment. Microsoft has to walk a fine line between throwing its weight around and not showing up, and at the moment they seem to be consistently erring towards the latter. Having a solid beta / tech preview would address this, but there is no indication that this is likely any time soon.
- Something like Silverlight comes along (coupled with Moonlight). Such a solution doesn’t fix your CSS, it replaces many of the technologies that you are used to with new ones. There are no indications that such a solution will ever be deployed on an iPhone. Some have expressed concerns that once Silverlight gains enough tractions, the cooperation that Novell is currently seeing will dry up.
Overall, I can’t see anything in any of these solutions that is clearly better than reviving Dean’s efforts, but I would be interested in hearing Joel’s take on this.