John Caroll presents a case for multiple standards. I agree with him, as a developer, that competition between standards can sometimes help. However, the idea of multiple standards directly clashes with one of my beliefs that standards are primarily for the users. Even when I am using the C++ standards as a programmer, I am a user of the standard.
Standards guarantee certain things to the user. Whether it is the user experience, accessibility or whether it is a conforming interface or behavior. Speaking of the Web standards, their primary benefit is to the user, not the developer. Of course, the benefit to the user is always an indirect benefit to the developer and the owner. Standards ensure that the users are not hurt because of the diversity and variety of development. The HTML and CSS standards try to ensure that all browsers behave the same, of course, if they comply. This gives freedom to the user to use a browser of his/her choice. The benefit of an office document standard is guarantee of interoperability, which eliminates restriction of using a specific tools. Existence of double standards will not be able to guarantee this.
I agree with John that sometimes one standard might not be enough. I would however prefer a route of modifying the accepted standard, for that domain, to address the problems, rather than introduce a new one and make them competitive. Unfortunately today, standards have become weapons for businesses to compete with others. Any thoughts for the users?