Mozilla's Mike Shaver Is Confident Microsoft Can Build a Safe WebGL for IE

Yersterday, Microsoft came out and announced that it will not be supporting WebGL, the nascent web 3D graphics standard, citing security concerns. Microsoft believes that the new standard is too risky to implement.

This is partly because of the way it's built and partly because it exposes low level software, namely graphic card drivers, to websites, which may not have the best intentions.

Mozilla's Mike Shaver offered a response of sorts on his blog, highlighting the need for a 3D graphics platform for the web, giving examples of others, including Microsoft, that are trying to achieve this and showing his faith that Microsoft could come up with a safe implementation of WebGL, if it wanted too.

The tone is very mild and hardly critical of Microsoft, but the take away seems to be that Microsoft is capable of coming up with a safe implementation of the standard and that it is already exposing drivers to web content via its Silverlight 3D technology, so it could take the same approach to WebGL.

"Recently the conversation has turned to inherent security characteristics of WebGL and whether it should be supported at all by browsers, ever," Shaver writes.

"I think that there is no question that the web needs 3D capabilities. Pretty much every platform has or is building ways for developers to perform low-level 3D operations," he added.

He then goes on to list efforts by Adobe, with its Molehill 3D API which is still experimental, and Microsoft's own Silverlight 5. He also believes that Mozilla has taken the security concerns over WebGL very seriously and that it has tools in place to minimize any damage that may be caused by vulnerabilities or issues in its implementation of the standard.

"Microsoft’s concern that a technology be able to pass their security review process is reasonable, and similar matters were the subject of a large proportion of the discussions leading to WebGL’s standardization," Shaver explained.

"I also suspect that whatever hardening they applied to the low-level D3D API wrapped by Silverlight 3D can be applied to a Microsoft WebGL implementation as well. That Silverlight supports Mac as well, where these capabilities must be mapped to OpenGL, makes me even more confident," he added.

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