I just realized, visiting the launch page of MSN 8.0, that the IE conspiracy is even more insidious than previously imagined on my part.
It's common knowledge that the company with the biggest development budget provide a browser that's definitely flawed. Time after time. It'd be a little ironic, the problems Microsoft seem to have, making a set of readily available standards, even with numerous open-source implementations (it's possible to sneak a peek, if the going gets tough). Even with heckloads of cash it seem MSFT is unable to come up with a product that performs well in the face of competition. It'd be (sort of) fun, if it were plain old stupidity that caused this. Alas! It's very unlikely that this is the whole cause of all the standards-trouble.
Being market leader with a de-facto-monopoly status,(monopolies are on a theoretical basis assumed to be detrimental to both quality and price. Microsoft would have trouble to argue that this ain't true in practice.) open standards, and thus a playing field open to all, is 100% un-desirable for someone who've grown accustomed to not having real competition. The mangled support for web standards in the most popular browser family have slowed development of open web technology incredibly much.
The question for me have been; what is their alternative? Open standards should be a 'natural development' of web technology if they prove to be useful. Right. Right?!
Not so. What you can see from the MSN-launch page, is that whenever the PR-dudes at Microsoft wants REAL WORK(tm) done, they go for Flash content. For those of ou who fail to see any significance in this consider the following. Microsoft guys have slowed down the development of open standards on the web single-handedly, and when they want to do a high-profile page, they choose not to use the exact standards other people have problems implementing in a sane way, and instead go for the Adobe (nee. Macromedia) Flash format.
Now they've created a incredible logical bypass of everything open and free, and right on to another proprietary standard. That'd be a very fine maneuver to extend internet functionality, after the Internet Explorer embrace have been on-going for nearly a decade.