Imx Fix in my experience
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December 17, 2002 11:39 AM

While laying down to sleep last night, which is usually the time my best thinking happens (but is the worst time to take notes), I was steaming about the lack of full PNG support in Microsoft browsers. I was trying to understand why PNG's are still poorly supported by Windows based Microsoft web browsers. There is native support for PNG's, but not for full 8 bit alpha transparency, and that's the killer PNG feature (imho).

Just as I was dozing off, I remembered two things.

  1. Unisys owns a patent on the GIF format, and likely makes good margins on that patent.
  2. Microsoft and Unisys are in bed with each other.
I have to believe that MSFT has made a conscious decision to NOT fully support the PNG format for a good reason. They even said a long time ago, in a white paper about Internet Explorer 4, that PNG would enjoy full support. Too bad they pulled that white paper off the web. Check out the online PNG support petition for the original URL that now fails.

Now consider what would happen to the GIF format if PNG had been fully supported under Internet Explorer 4, 5, 5.5 and 6. GIF would be dead because any web designer knows the advantage, and innovative possibilities with full 8 bit transparency at their disposal. GIF would be dead, but if Unisys and MSFT are working together, MSFT has to consider the needs of their business partner, and use its monopoly power to keep the PNG format relegated to the almost-ran-technology-bin so that lucrative GIF liscences can continue to be sold by Unisys.

In my opinion, that's an abuse of monopoly power and stifles innovation. Is any of this true? Does MSFT conspire to keep the PNG format in a crippled support state? I don't know. you be the judge.

ps, Posts about PNG support in the Mac version of IE will be ignored, because the market share of that browser has ZERO effect on the point I am making. 90% of the browsing market needs to have full PNG support before the format becomes fully adoptable by the web development community. That 90% mark could have been reached by now if IE version 4 thru 6 for PC fully supported the format.