Windows Internet Explorer 8 is here. This is the first launch of IE that I’ve been excited about in a long time. Why? With full support for CSS 2.1, it’s now a standards-compliant browser. (It also supports CSS 3.0 in a limited capacity.) Sure, it’s now one more browser to account for, but if your site works properly in newer versions Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, etc… chances are it will work in IE8. If you’re unsure of how to fix any issues your site might have in Internet Explorer 8, but it works fine in previous versions, forcing legacy rendering is as easy as adding a meta tag:
OR, on a per-site basis, add the HTTP header: X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7
IE8 Blacklist: forcing standards rendering opt-in. Just when you think Microsoft might get it right with IE8, they do something retarded like automatically adding to-level domains to a “standards blacklist”. Standards mode should be on by default. If people are lazy enough to put something out there that only works in IE or is generally hacked together, the onus should be on them to add the meta tag forcing compatibility with IE7-mode.
Some people will say Microsoft caved; others, that they listened to public opinion; some may even buy the company’s own explanation, which is that, given a company-wide reorientation away from proprietary winner-take-all competitiveness and toward interoperability, “web standards by default” takes precedence over “supporting all those badly made websites that were created specifically to work in IE.” Jeffrey Zeldman
Did Microsoft cave, or did it see the light? It’s hard to imagine a company as large as Microsoft “getting it” all of a sudden, but stranger things have happened. Zeldman’s post gathers many of the arguments for and against IE8’s proposed version targeting. It’s definitely worth a read. I for one am glad that Microsoft has chosen to go the more difficult route and support standards first.
The news that IE8 will now display pages in “Standards” mode, instead of requiring designers/developers to force it… is music to my ears. Granted, it wasn’t that big a deal to use a META tag to force the rendering, as originally proposed… But it IS nice to see that Microsoft is taking web standards more seriously with this new approach.
I’m more excited about the IE8 news, to be honest. Having IE8 passing the Acid Test could mean less trouble for web designers/developers in the future. Sure, IE6 and IE7 won’t go away anytime soon, but if Microsoft were to push the browser as a critical update, it might see widespread adoption fairly quickly.