Microsoft and Google Partner on Web Browser Compatibility

Posted on March 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Web browsers with 8 Comments

Microsoft and Google announced today that they are partnering to identify and fix the top incompatibility issues on the web.

“We’re excited to join with Google, Igalia, and the broader web community in committing resources to a cross-browser effort called Compat 2021, with the goal of substantial improvements in … five areas where browser compatibility is a particularly strong pain point,” Microsoft’s Kyle Pflug writes. “Our joint working group identified the focus areas above based on feature usage data, number of bugs (or number of stars/upvotes on a given bug) in each vendor’s tracking system, various survey feedback, CanIUse data, and test results from web-platform-tests.”

Those five key areas will familiar to web developers, and all are related to a technology called Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which is used to describe the visual design of web apps and sites. They are CSS Flexbox, CSS Grid, CSS position: sticky, the CSS aspect-ratio property, and CSS transforms.

According to Google, this new effort expands on previous work done by companies like Microsoft, Mozilla, and itself.

“In 2020, Chromium started work addressing the top areas outlined in Improving Chromium’s browser compatibility in 2020,” Robert Nyman and Philip Jägenstedt explain. “In 2021, we are beginning a dedicated effort to go even further. Google and Microsoft are working together on addressing top issues in Chromium, along with Igalia. Igalia, who are regular contributors to Chromium and WebKit, and maintainers of the official WebKit port for embedded devices, have been very supportive and engaged in these compatibility efforts, and will be helping tackle and track the identified issues.”

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft and Google Partner on Web Browser Compatibility”

  1. rmac

    It's surely telling that Edge, which is an implementation of Chrome, still faces compatibility issues with CSS. And it's telling to read of Google's remark "While a newer feature like subgrid is important for developers, it isn't a part of this specific effort. To follow along, see Subgrid compat on MDN."

    The bottom line is there never has been nor ever will be compatibility when multiple companies are involved in interpreting a W3C standard. The only solution would be for one organisation to create the 'browser window' rendering engine. I would say that would have to be the task of a MS-G-A funded Mozilla.

    I suppose Hell might freeze over.

  2. Saarek

    Steps like this make sense, but are also cause for concern. I remember well the days of Internet Explorer where the web did not play well with other browsers. Thank goodness those days are gone, but with only Mozilla and Apple as holdouts now on chromium I could see this issue raising its ulgy head again.

    • ebraiter

      In reply to Saarek:

      Ummm. Why would Mozilla and Apple want to go to Chromium?

      • Saarek

        In reply to ebraiter:

        Apple will likely continue to hold out, but Mozilla is already losing money and so might decide that in the end not having to pay to maintain their own engine is a benefit.

        I suspect Apple will maintain Webkit, it gives them competitive advantages on their own platforms.

  3. ebraiter

    Anyone faint yet? Microsoft and Google partnering.

  4. winbookxl2

    I surely hope it all goes well and is a meaningful partnership for both parties and end consumers and users.

  5. omen_20

    Hopefully Vivaldi joins in as well.

  6. chriscarstens

    All very nice and all, but Twitter still tells me “this browser is no longer supported” whenever I attempt to log in with Edge WTF?