Microsoft engineer spanked for proposing Mozilla gives up on Gecko Firefox rendering engine

by Surur
January 27, 2019

Microsoft’s recent decision to abandon their EdgeHTML rendering engine in favour of Google’s Chromium rendering engine has been somewhat controversial, not due to the (likely positive) impact on their users, but due to the effects it would have on the level of competition there is exists in the web rendering engine area. With Microsoft capitulating to Google, and Opera already using Chromium,  it leaves Mozilla’ Gecko as the lone stand-out flying the banner of open web standards.

It was therefore rather brave of Kenneth Auchenberg, a Microsoft program manager working for the Code team, to suggest it was time for Mozilla to already throw in the towel.

The comment was met with a swift response from web advocates including Mozilla and Chromium developers letting Kenneth know how wrong he was.

Mozilla engineer Emilio reminded Kenneth that for a standard to be a standard multiple implementations are needed, else engineers will only start building to Chromium’s specific implementation, turning even its bugs into defacto standards.

Others reminded Kenneth that if we always went with the majority there would be no Chrome at all.

Kenneth did however have a reasoned point, suggesting that it was a poor investment to spend time and money developing an alternate rendering engine (comparing this to developing an alternate operating system from scratch) when innovation could happen at a higher level, and believed that the open source nature of Chromium should mean innovative solutions not developed by Google could still contribute to Chromium’s development.

It is fair to say most were not convinced, however, but Kenneth may have the last laugh, with Mozilla’s former CTO, Andreas Gal, who now works for Apple,  suggesting a tweet saying Mozilla will not give up simply because Microsoft did would not stand the test of time.

In the end, when a field matures enough to it does make sense to settle on a single standard, so we can forget about the foundational technology and start innovating on top of it. It remains to be seen if we are there yet, but I suspect we are pretty close.

What do our readers think? Let us know in the comments below.

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