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Congratulations guys, as a web developer this is great news to hear. Some points I'd like to make:
While I have sympathy for the problems you discussed regarding maintaining compatibility with older versions of IE, I should hardly need to point out that they are much of you own making If these features had been implemented correctly in the first place then the problem would not exist. I don't say this to attack you, but to suggest that it is better not to implement a feature at all than to implement it incorrectly, or to implement it before the "correct" behaviour has been absolutely defined. Therefore, I was very glad to hear you mention that you work with the standards groups and (particularly) the other browser vendors to resolve omissions and ambiguities in the specs. I've spoken with colleagues in the past about how I wouldn't care if IE didn't implement features X, Y and Z, because right from the bat I'd just plan my content around a subset A, B and C that were supported in all my target browsers. It's when I start off believing I can use features X, Y and Z in all browsers, then run into problems half way through development because of subtle incompatibilities, that problems really arise. It's then that I have to start chasing round bug reports on obscure blogs, adding browser specific hacks, and my estimates start slipping.
I'd also be interested in later communications from the team to hear what is your opinion on the future of the web in terms of standards, and as an application platform? For example, what is your stance on XHTML V2 vs HTML 5? What do you think of CSS 3.0? You talked in this video about the addition and standardisation of XmlHttpRequest, but it seems like there's been less innovation of this sort in the last few years. The only major example I can think of has been the addition of the Canvas tag in some browsers (and now into HTML 5, I believe). I guess the problem is that if individual browsers, particularly IE, start adding features unilaterally, then they are screamed at for introducing proprietary extensions, but if everything is done via standards bodies then it could well be a glacial design-by-committee process. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see a greater roll for more ad-hoc groups like WHATWG, where a smaller group of vendors can more swiftly spec a new approach and then pass it to the WC3 for standardisation? Do you foresee greater cooperation with Mozilla, Apple, etc, in the future?
It seems like from a political point of view, Microsoft is ambivalent at best regarding the web as an application platform. On the one hand you're producing great stuff like ASP.NET 2, the AJAX toolkit, Microsoft Expression, etc, but on the other you mothballed IE for a long time, and you don't seem too active in really pushing to advance the web beyond its current limitations. AJAX is all very well, but it's basically just squeezing the last drops out of technology that's almost a decade old. My cynical side would say that you're reluctant to enhance the web too far, for fear of letting web applications compete too closely with the desktop. That you want to stabilise HTML + CSS as a fancy document language, but to only deliver app capability via things like Silverlight and .NET that you have greater control over. Or am I just being paranoid?