Tuesday, March 4th, 2008p>You have to hand it to the IE team, they have listened to the huge amount of community feedback on the IE 8 user agent feature, and they have reversed their decision so by default IE 8 will run in standards compliant mode.
Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles. Thinking about IE8â€™s behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is a better thing to do.
We think that acting in accordance with principles is important, and IE8â€™s default is a demonstration of the interoperability principles in action. While we do not believe any current legal requirements would dictate which rendering mode a browser must use, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue. As stated above, we think itâ€™s the better choice.
One issue we heard repeatedly during the IE7 beta concerned sites that looked fine in IE6 but looked bad in IE7. The reason was that the sites had worked around IE6 issues with content that â€“ when viewed with IE7â€™s improved Standards mode â€“ looked bad.
As we started work on IE8, we thought that the same thing would happen in the short term: when a site hands IE8 content and asks for Standards mode, that content would expect IE7â€™s Standards mode and not appear or function correctly.
In other words, the technical challenge here is how can IE determine whether a siteâ€™s content expects IE8â€™s Standards mode or IE7â€™s Standards mode? Given how many sites offer IE very different content today, which should IE8 default to?
The Technical Challenge
Our initial thinking for IE8 involved showing pages requesting â€œStandardsâ€ mode in an IE7â€™s â€œStandardsâ€ mode, and requiring developers to ask for IE8â€™s actual â€œStandardsâ€ mode separately. We made this decision, informed by discussions with some leading web experts, with compatibility at the top of mind.
In light of the Interoperability Principles, as well as feedback from the community, weâ€™re choosing differently. Now, IE8 will show pages requesting â€œStandardsâ€ mode in IE8â€™s Standards mode. Developers who want their pages shown using IE8â€™s â€œIE7 Standards modeâ€ will need to request that explicitly (using the http header/meta tag approach described here).
Now they have made the change, it is up to us as Web developers to fix our sites when IE 8 comes along. In the long run though, we get a better Web. Just don’t tell my wife if she browses to her favourite site and it doesn’t render correctly. She won’t care about the politics :)