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IE8 standards mode

Every once in a while, there comes a news item that really stir the blogosphere. Recently Microsoft announced in the article Compatibility and IE8 that the upcoming 8th version of Internet Explorer will feature a special meta element, which will trigger the standards mode. It will look something like this:

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=8″ />

It’s further described by Aaron Gustafson in Beyond DOCTYPE: Web Standards, Forward Compatibility, and IE8.

Many acclaimed standardistas instantly uttered their general dislike of the idea. To me it seems like Microsoft has chosen this path out of resignation. There’s too many invalid web sites out there, and instead of making people deal with the problem they enable this route of eternal backward compatibility.

I feel this is a very strange decision by the IE team. Since most people won’t know about the switch, they will likely end up in the default IE7 mode and be utterly confused why IE8 doesn’t behave as they thought it would.

Update: They actually changed their mind! Be still my beating heart.

7 comments

  • avatar
    25 Feb, 2008

    Sigh. After having been recently exposed to the entagled mess of writing JavaScript/CSS/XMLHttpRequest applications I’m just getting angry. I can live with the pain of writing for Firefox/Firebug once in a while, but someone should pay for the IE mess. Really.

  • avatar
    Jonas
    25 Feb, 2008

    I’ve mixed feelings about this, I haven’t dived into the debate but I can see why MS has decided on this; given the prerequisites I think this is (probably) the only solution. But it is not the right solution – the prerequisites are wrong, it is time for MS to reap the harvest from ignoring IE for half a decade and pay the price. They’ve created so very much trouble for so long that they shall not get out of it that easy.
    The X-UA-Compatible is just a new doctype, so what shall we call the meta tag we need to add when X-UA-Compatible has been abused in the same way as the doctype?

  • avatar
    25 Feb, 2008

    It’s a slap in the face to the small group of people who actually care about this kind of thing. It would even be better the other way around, using the element to enforce IE7 rendering if neccessary.

  • avatar
    Jonas
    26 Feb, 2008

    What’s even more interesting is that IE8 was announced today (?) as a first beta, IE7 haven’t really been out that long, have it!? A high turn around is a good thing, but this fast? Or do they expect a two year development cycle?
    (I meant half a decade above, off course.)

  • avatar
    26 Feb, 2008

    I heard that IE8 will be demonstrated at MIX08, with a beta release due sometime in the first half of 2008.

  • avatar
    Jonas
    04 Mar, 2008

    The world has been turned upside down.

  • avatar
    04 Mar, 2008

    I saw it this morning and my eyes are still rolling in surprise. Please say it ain’t April 1st yet.

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Reine is a web developer who enjoys caffeine-fueled urban traveling. More...

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