IBM donates code to Firefox!

IBM has donated some DHTML accessibility code to Firefox. This sounds like really good news – it is nice to know that a giant corporation is backing our favorite browser. Having features improving accessibility for sight impaired users is great and might really help to spread the browser into new settings. For example – federal offices would be better off using the most accessible, and standards compliant browser available.

Of course on the other hand we still have people who still can’t figure out how to design pages that do not require IE. They are either doing half assed job, or are encouraged to do half assed job by people with large PR budgets (read Microsoft sales reps). This is happening all over.

My school for example has halfway-decent IT people working there who have figured out that rolling Firefox and/or Mozilla on all school computers is a good thing. Now this policy of installing FF on all machines might be reversed as the new version of the Blackboard system requires IE to function properly. Not that we didn’t see that one coming. Developing IE only features was probably part of their agreement with Microsoft (unofficially of course).

This way MS can lock in many educational institutions, such as major universities which already started adopting Firefox. And this is precisely what is happening here at MSU. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Firefox being removed from the workstations all over the campus soon.

In the end, Firefox might be the best damn browser in the world – it may cure cancer, and bring the dead back to life. Yet as long as MS can lock people in, by “partnerships” and “agreements” with key web based technology providers, ensuring IE only features being implemented en masse FF will not gain a significant market share.

It is sad but because MS monopolistic practices people with disabilities may be forced to use sub-par, half-assed browser to access important information – for example to pre-register their copyright or have full access access their school’s information systems.

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