You were doing so well ...
... until your closing paragraphs.
"It's classic Microsoft. It's the attitude that led to COM and DCOM instead of using Corba"
WRONG: MS chose not to back CORBA because IBM was bullying its way around the standardization effort and making CORBA overly prescriptive in parts (that didn't need it) and woefully relaxed in others (that did). COM/DCOM won the distributed object wars. CORBA lost. Who was right?
"and that saw Microsoft "tune" Java and distribute a version not compatible with Sun Microsystems' implementation"
Sun won the case with a VERY weak ruling. Sun quickly released JNI so that they could start the complaints and push MS into court because they realized they'd given over too much power to MS, including the right to augment Java with platform-specific enhancements.
Frankly, MS' legal team probably did more damage to the case than MS did. A proficient team would have won the case hands down in MS' favor.
"Now it seems for all the talk of having learned its lessons on standards in IE 8, IE 9 will be a case of moving slowly and selectively where it suits the company and using its own approaches elsewhere."
WRONG - they're weighing up time vs. resources vs. features. There are literally hundreds of "standards" currently either boiling away hoping to become "real" standards in the future Imagine you run the IE team. You have $100 - where do you spend it:
b) Improve rendering performance
c) Improve compositon support & better compliance with CSS
d) Improve security & reliability process isolation & extension sandboxing
e) Improve the remaining top 3 customer pain points based on actual telemetry/stats and customer feedback
f) Implement support for any number of random other technologies which may never gain widespread use
I'm guessing youd spend VERY little on f.
What would be the point in building complete support for a version of HTML which hasn't yet been ratified? How many sites are likely to widely use the new HTML flavor before SP1 can be rolled out?
"It's an approach that will continue to leave developers struggling to support multiple browser architectures and invariably defaulting to Microsoft first and everyone else second based on market share, while leaving standards advocates and browser rivals as frustrated and angry as ever."
No two browsers support every standard in the same way. There will ALWAYS be differences that web developers have to code around. Until the W3C does a better job of accurately defining standards and producing *real* compliance test suites this problem will persist ... even if MS closed the IE team down tomorrow.