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Internet Explorer 8 Could Break Applications, Gartner Warns

Microsoft's support for Web standards in IE 8 could hurt apps built to work with the company's own protocols, the research firm says.
Microsoft's improved support for Web standards in its Internet Explorer 8 browser is laudable -- but it could cause big headaches for enterprise IT developers.

That's the opinion of analysts at tech research firm Gartner, which cautions in a new report that IE 8's default standards mode "will result in pages that don't display correctly for some enterprise applications."

That's because many Web- or intranet-facing applications used in business were built to work with previous versions of Explorer, in which Microsoft often favored its own protocols over universal Web standards.

With Explorer 8, slated for full release later this year, Microsoft has promised default compatibility with W3C guidelines.

Among other things, the browser features support for Web programming standards such as CCS 2.1 and HTML 5. It also promises improved support for the Ajax programming language. "Microsoft is trying to woo the Web 2.0 world," Gartner said in a document published last week.

The researchers said it's "an indicator of what some have called 'the new Microsoft.' "

Microsoft last month pledged broad support for systems interoperability and open standards -- in part to appease European monopoly regulators who have levied more than $2 billion in antitrust fines on the software maker.

Gartner is recommending that enterprise developers fall in line with Microsoft's commitment to standards when creating new Web applications. "Strive to design for standards, not browsers," Gartner said. "Don't depend on any one client-side technology. Focus instead on validated user interaction patterns."

A beta version of Internet Explorer 8 is now available for download directly from Microsoft.

Screenshots of the new browser also are available for viewing online.