> I'm pretty sure IE does support all the web standards

Nobody supports ALL the web standards.

Have a looksee at http://www.westciv.com/style_master/...owser_support/ which gives a good overview of which bits of CSS are dropped on the floor by IE/Windows (and IE/Mac, and Netscape 6, ...)

Remember the hoo-ha 6 months back when MS locked a whole bunch of browsers out of their websites because the other browsers "don't support standards"? Opera posted a rebuttal document on the web that validated as XHTML with the W3C validator, which the then-current IE made a complete dog's breakfast of. (it's still there, at http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/xhtml/20011026.xml - IE6 fails completely to render it in any meaningful way, so use another browser if you want to read it)

My (entirely subjective) opinion is that Mozilla has the "best" standards support at present, closely followed by IE6. There's room for improvement in both of them.

There are a lot of standards, and some browsers support some of the standards well and other standards badly. e.g. Opera has excellent CSS1 support, but lousy DOM support. IE gets better with every iteration. IE6's Standards support is pretty good. IE5/Mac has CSS support up there with the best of 'em.

> Microsoft for some reason feels the need to develop and
> support a whole slew of additional features?

With one exception, which I'll get to in a minute, MS are not developing many new "additional features", just maintining support for some old ones. While I think continued support for some of these is bad for the web in general, I have some sympathy for why MS is doing it.

The exception is the ever-closer symbiosis between IE and Windows - witness ActiveX plugins and the dropping of support for Netscape plugins. So now, anyone attempting to develop plugins has to work twice as hard to support any other browser. No prizes for guessing why MS is doing that.

> All I can say is that the numbers speak and I must listen.

(interesting link, thanks)

Indeed. From those stats, the top three browsers are:

- IE5 (57.5%)
- IE6 (27.0%)
- NS6 (5.2%)

Those three all have pretty good standards support. If you work to the W3C standards, your stuff should just work in all three of them, without any browser sniffing.

Things might get a bit sticky in DHTML, since support for the W3C DOM isn't that great in IE5.0, but since the document.all DOM and the W3C DOM are fairly similar in many areas, it shouldn't take much browser sniffing to get round it.

If you stick to HTML and CSS, your pages should work fine in Opera too, without you having to lift a finger.

That's the whole point of standards. You shouldn't have to think about this stuff. You shouldn't NEED to point to the browser stats - it should be irrelevant. And things are moving in the right direction - the biggest remaining obstacles are:

- NS4.x, which is a disaster with CSS.
- web authors who refuse to acknowledge the existence of anything beyond IE and NS4.

Barring aberrations like NS4, if you write your site to the W3C standards, you should be fairly browser-proof. If the browser doesn't understand anything, it'll ignore it, and just deal with what it knows. It might not look pretty, but if you've done your job right, it should at least be readable.

All that aside, do you where those numbers will be in 6 months? 12? 24? Nope. Follow the standards, and you're also building in some degree of future-proofing, should anything "nasty" happen to those figures.

> I have ZERO knowledge about NS6, and don't want it, so if
> it's better, I'd just rather not know

It's better. Sorry.

NS6 (and the forthcoming NS7) have CSS support which is at least as good as IE6. Go on. Just feed Netscape 6 your IE stylesheet. It'll probably work, without any changes. It'll certainly look a lot better than the NS4 stylesheet. Try the same with Opera.

> Oh, and don't talk to me about MathML

I'll just say: it's very cool if you have to display ANY kind of mathematical formulae. Like thousands of people around the world have to on a regular basis. Do you have any idea how much grief it is to render a big formula as a graphic and then integrate it with your page? But if you don't need to, you don't need to, and that's that.

> I'm one of those people who has a major beef with the
> inferiority of the NS DOM,

Then you should like the W3C DOM, which is fairly well supported by both IE6 and the whole mozilla/N6 family.

</rant> Oops. That got a bit epic, didn't it?