Second Guessing Microsoft On Internet Explorer 8Second Guessing Microsoft On Internet Explorer 8
Microsoft's IE8 effort has been <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/03/microsoft_light.html">kicking into gear</a> lately with its first beta release and a bunch of information. One controversial change is that IE8 is aiming to be <a href=" http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2008/03/03/microsoft-s-interoperability-principles-and-ie8.aspx">"standards compliant" more than "IE7 compliant"</a>. Both IE6 and IE7 lagged far behind HTML and CSS standards that were well-establi
March 18, 2008
Microsoft's IE8 effort has been kicking into gear lately with its first beta release and a bunch of information. One controversial change is that IE8 is aiming to be "standards compliant" more than "IE7 compliant". Both IE6 and IE7 lagged far behind HTML and CSS standards that were well-established before the browsers shipped. After eight years, Web developers have become reluctant experts about the hacks and patches needed to make IE work properly. Many Web pages break when existing IE6/7 hacks are applied to the new IE8 browser, and that could spell trouble when IE8 ships.Let's step back for a second, though. Microsoft has just released the Beta 1 Developer Preview of IE8. This is a hint that the current beta version isn't yet intended for users to judge or use as a finished product. Web developers, on the other hand, need to get early notice of the challenges they may face when the final product arrives. It's still very early in IE8 development. One of the reasons this is a "developer preview" is no doubt to float this trial balloon and see whether it's really possible to make IE8 incompatible with the annoying quirks of IE7. Developers need an early look so they can get a chance to appeal any IE7-to-IE8 design changes that turn out to be too traumatic.
As Joel Spolsky said in a recent blog post, "there is no solution." Spolsky goes on to make a somewhat jaded observation: The IE8 team going to tell everyone that IE8 will use Web standards by default, and run a nice long beta during which they beg people to test their pages with IE8 and get them to work. And when they get closer to shipping and only 32% of the Web pages in the world render properly, they'll say, "Look, guys, we're really sorry, we really wanted IE8 standards mode to be the default, but we can't ship a browser that doesn't work," and they'll revert to the pragmatic decision. Or maybe they won't, because the pragmatists at Microsoft have been out of power for a long time. Maybe Spolsky is right that Microsoft will back off its commitment to IE8 using standards by default, based on feedback from the field. Even so, I admire Microsoft for at least trying. Being a prisoner of your installed base is no fun.
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