"The most amazing thing about XML's incredible rise, which I
think has been quicker than that of the PC, Java, or even the Web,
is the fact that it is still as open as ever. Even though XML
was originally intended to encourage data interchange by providing
both human and machine readability, the odds were that a powerful
company or group of companies would foul the waters. Many vertical
industries, such as the automobile industry (which recently
surprised analysts by announcing a huge XML-driven online
exchange), the health care industry, and the chemical industry,
have adopted XML as their preferred data-exchange format. If the
likes of Microsoft (the early and ongoing XML champion) and Oracle
could co-opt standards for XML processing, they could increase
their domination in such industries under the guise of openness:
the perfect monopolistic Trojan horse."
"This was never an idle menace. Last year, Microsoft nearly
derailed XSLT by bundling a mutation of XSLT, different from the
emerging standards and laden with Microsoft extensions, into its
Internet Explorer 5 browser. Many Linux advocates cried loudly
about Microsoft's "embrace-extend-extinguish" move on Kerberos, but
that was a weak jab compared to the MS XSL ploy. Since Internet
Explorer is by far the most popular browser, Microsoft ensured that
most of the world's XSLT experience would come through their
proprietary version, and nearly made that version the de facto
standard. There were many flame wars on the XSL-List mailing list
(see Resources) when Explorer users arrived in droves asking what
the proper XSLT was."
"But then something surprising happened. Microsoft's customers
said loudly and clearly that they didn't want an MS flavor of XSLT
-- they wanted the standard. The first sign that Microsoft
understood this was a slow migration to the standard in Internet
Explorer updates. Then MS developers announced publicly that their
new design goal was full compliance with the XSLT standard.
Finally, after some prodding on XSL-List, several of Microsoft's
developers admitted they had been receiving numerous email messages
asking them to get in line."
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