Joel Spolsky, the best writer on software development, says there are no Web standards ... or the ones we think we have are not really standards. He's right.
A mortal web designer who attaches a DOCTYPE tag to their web page saying, “this is standard HTML,” is committing an act of hubris. There is no way they know that. All they are really saying is that the page was meant to be standard HTML. All they really know is that they tested it with IE, Firefox, maybe Opera and Safari, and it seems to work. Or, they copied the DOCTYPE tag out of a book and don’t know what it means.
What does this mean? In the context of the bitter debate about Microsoft's design choices for its next browser, Internet Explorer 8, it means we have a mess.
It is going to cost twice as much time (therefore, money) to make Web pages that work on Firefox, IE, Opera & Safari. It has already done so for HTML programmers; so I am seeing a likely trend toward simpler pages, especially to accommodate demand across different sized (smaller) platforms.
Opera's already the browser whose makers have thought about the different scale platforms for a long time & and Apple will be doing this too now that iPhone rules.
But this mess we already have is about to get messier due to the shortcomings of companies & "standards". This is the real world where the company who stays up the latest and wakes up the earliest can filibuster its way into influencing the dominant mode of what works.
It's not fair, it's not perfect, but it's the way things are.