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Web Development

IE8 To Default to Web Standards Mode

So in a reversal to it’s previous stance, unbelievably Microsoft has announced, just in time for MIX08, that Internet Explorer 8 will render Web pages using it’s enhanced Web Standards mode.

Basically it amounts to this:

  • Previously MS had announced IE8 would render in a backwards compatible (IE7) manner unless a Web developer explicitly enabled IE8’s new standards mode.
  • IE8’s new standards mode features great enhancements including an apparently brand-new rendering engine and serious JavaScript/DOM scripting enhancements.
  • There was serious outcry from the Web design and development community, largely due to IE’s market share, about the default mode being backwards-compatible, saying it would stagnate the Web and it could be perceived as perpetuating a cycle of badly built sites or even an anti-competitive measure.
  • Microsoft took the complaints fairly seriously and Chris Wilson, the platform architect for IE, even met with members of the Web Standards Project to discuss it .
  • Microsoft released its Interoperability Principles
  • The previous decision was reversed — the IE8 engine will now render in standards mode by default
  • The Web design and Development Community rejoiced, or … something.
  • Skeptics were of course present, and of course they had a point.

Like it or not, MS is a corporation and does base some of their decisions on legal issues. The fact that this one happens to benefit users is only a good thing. Yeah, it feels … icky, but whatever.

IE8 Breaks My Site and My Web

Well, it probably will. The great part is while the issues are sorted out there’s a small, meta-tag or HTTP header which can fix the site temporarily. It’s an easy fix. Something like this:

  1. <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7" />

That’s it. It fixes your site, at least until you can sort out the IE8 issues. Please don’t leave it that way, or your site becomes, as Porter put it, abandonware.

Microsoft Intranets and Applications

Essentially this begs the question: there’s a ton of corporate intranet clients and Microsoft applications which will probably be broken by this decision. What do these all have in common? Most of them are using Microsoft products.

Microsoft will likely issue a patch which will switch the Web Servers to IE7 mode. Just a guess.

Mar 5, 11:35 AM in Web Development (filed under Browsers, Microsoft)

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