Thursday, December 11th, 2008

IE8 December Release and Accessibility

Category: Browsers, IE

The IE8 team let their partners know about a December “Partner Build” that contains the following changes since IE8b2:


ARIA attribute names containing dashes, such as “aria-checked”, no longer have to be referenced by their camelCased equivalent (ariaChecked) in IE 7 Mode and Quirks Mode. As a consequence of this change, the camelCased syntax no longer exists for these attributes.

Another article was recently published on new accessibility features in IE8.


XDR now checks Access-Control-Allow-Origin header for specific URLs as well as wildcards.

Developer Tools

The Developer Tools now has a menu option to let the user choose the view source app. In IE7 the only choice was Notepad and in IE8 Beta 2, the built-in viewer was the only choice. Now users can choose Notepad, built-in viewer, or another application.


Syntactically valid filter declarations are applied in standards mode, even if unquoted Starting with IE8 Beta 1, the following filter declaration was not applied in standards mode:

  1. filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(Opacity=80, FinishOpacity=70,Style=2);

Instead, IE8 standards mode required the following declaration:

  1. -ms-filter: “progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(Opacity=80,FinishOpacity=70, Style=2);

For web applications supporting both IE7 and earlier as well as IE8 standards mode, this meant maintaining both declarations and possible a third for other browsers in the case of opacity.

Starting with IE8 Partner Build, the first declaration above will be applied in standards mode if and only if its syntax is valid. If it is not e.g. the final parenthesis is missing then the declaration will not be applied and our CSS parser fails per the standard.

CSS style sheet encoding detection complies with CSS 2.1 e.g. including @charset directive, charset attribute on link element etc.

Compatibility View List

Check box added in Tools->Compatibility View Settings to receive updates from Microsoft. At the moment, the functionality of this feature works but our list will not be activated until the next release of IE.

Filter Syntax Property

IE8 will accept the current filter syntax as well as the fully quoted syntax (“–ms” prefix) previously announced for IE8.

Links Bar

A new option allows users to put as many items on the Favorites bar as they want. The size of Links bar items can now be set to long (default), short (5 characters), or simply the favicon.

InPrivate Blocking

New InPrivate Blocking button on the status bar. This can be pressed to turn InPrivate Blocking on and off.

InPrivate Blocking now has a quick on/off entry in the Safety menu (or Ctrl-Shift-B).

The InPrivate Blocking on/off setting is now a session-specific option. InPrivate Blocking will be off by default each time users launch Internet Explorer.

InPrivate Blocking can now be turned on for all browsing sessions, not just InPrivate Browsing sessions.

UI Improvements to the InPrivate Blocking settings dialog.

New feature first-run dialog box.

InPrivate Subscriptions have been removed.

Add-ons are now disabled while in InPrivate Browsing.

Smart Address Bar

Increased number of typed addresses (up to 12 by default, up to 25 if History and Favorites are turned off).

Removed AutoComplete Suggestions.

Turned off Feeds by default. Feeds can be turned on through the AutoComplete Settings dialog in Tools->Internet Options->Content->AutoComplete Settings’.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:35 am

3.7 rating from 15 votes


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Took them a lot of time to fix basically nothing, the release seems to be focussed on tools and UI, now the most important thing for us as developers. I hope there’s more to it and that they will finaly get serious about things that matter to us, like getting Canvas support in there for one. I’m probably not going to waste my time on this for a couple UI improvements.

Comment by Jadet — December 11, 2008

If they just supported canvas I wouldn’t care about as much about SVG and CSS3 and so on, we would at least have a tool to emulate missing functionality. They’re “helping” developers in the wrong places still. I jon’t just want the features you didn’t implement before, give me the means to implement them myself if/when you fall into another 10 year rut.

Comment by TNO — December 11, 2008

As I understand it, there’s not expected to be any big surprises (ie: major new features) between now and a final v8 launch. That means no Canvas support and no support for plenty of CSS3 features that many designers were hoping for. The new HTML5 features are nice and hopefully the change to the new rendering engine will allow for a faster turnaround time on IE9.

Comment by jonathansnook — December 11, 2008

Meh, seems like IE8 will be Microsoft’s way of “motivating” people to use Silverlight. Great.

Comment by smoofles — December 11, 2008

Smoofles is right, this ignorance to implement canvas is just another way to force Silverlight onto the masses. Microsoft is going through a lot of trouble to force this failed product onto us. A good reason to finaly boycot IE.

Comment by lovejs — December 11, 2008

We’ve known for months that IE 8 isn’t going to solve many of the problems with IE. This shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. I’m not holding out much hope for IE 9 either. The fact of the matter is, MS and the IE team are not interested in competing on level ground with Safari and Firefox. My hope is that IE will keep bleeding market share so their stupid strategy won’t continue to cause excessive work for web developers for all eternity.

And as lovely as an IE boycott sounds, it’s hard to justify in most contexts. There is no way to strongarm people into other browsers. Ultimately a strategy of providing only minimal IE support is probably the best. Let them upgrade to a real browser if they want the great new features of your apps; otherwise they get forms and page requests.

Comment by eyelidlessness — December 11, 2008

The only good thing about IE8 is that it brings IE6’s end-of-life closer.

Comment by spyke — December 11, 2008

I also wish IE8 supported the canvas element

Comment by drewlesueur — December 11, 2008

My guess is that MS will indeed push Silverlight by not implementing (or poorly implement) canvas. IE8 will fit in nicely, with its so called UI improvements. I can already hear business saying “their explorer update is such an improvement” while asking professionals to do them a Silverlight project.

And frankly, a MS implementation of canvas would be scary anyway. Will it be fast, stable and kept up to date? There is no commitment, so recipe for disaster.

I would rather see a way for developers to switch to the Webkit engine inside explorer. If (ie) document.switchEngine(‘webkit’)

Comment by marcelbeumer — December 12, 2008

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