Monday, January 26th, 2009

What is coming up with IE8 and 9?

Category: Browsers, IE

Michael Calore of Wired has a writeup of the IE team “Ask The Experts” web chat from this week.

Here is the meat:

  • The target for CSS support in IE8 is full and complete support for CSS2.1.
  • The only CSS3 module in IE8 is writing-mode (for vertical text support). IE has supported this since version 5.x, so it will continue to do so.
  • IE8 will not support CSS’ border-radius, which is often used to make rounded corners without images. Microsoft’s Chris Wilson confirms that border-radius support is “high on the wish list,” though, and should make its way into the next release after IE8.
  • There is no official roadmap for IE9, but native SVG support is likely.
  • A new JavaScript engine is likely down the road, too. A user asked: “Almost all others browsers are now considering JavaScript compilation. Safari introduced SquirrelFish and last week SquirrelFish extreme in reaction to V8. Mozilla has also started working on ScreamingMonkey. Will IE9 have a new JavaScript engine?” The response: “We’re certainly focusing heavily on improving Javascript, in IE8 and beyond. I’d expect to see great things here in the future.”

SVG support would be great, and please give us canvas. Please, Chris. What can I write on Ajaxian to help the case? ;)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:55 am

2.8 rating from 58 votes


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No border-radius ? Are you kidding me ? It’s been in other browsers for years !

Do they hate the concept of image-less rounded corners at Microsoft ? Thanks to them, we are going to have to wait till 2011 (not even kidding) before we can be sure our users see what we want when we use border-radius.

Comment by MikaMTB31 — January 26, 2009

Canvas are a competitor to Silverlight, to get IE to support it (good) on this side of the 3rd Millennium would be like asking an old dog to stop barking…
I am not really sure why you’re writing so much about IE, I am getting this idea that you want to “charm IE users/devs to death” or something…?
I honestly don’t think you can make IE devs implement standards more then what they’ve planned already since IE is (probably) one of MSFT’s most strategic weapons and therefore big features in IE probably needs accept all the way up to the board of directors or something, and those guys can only be charmed with *money*…!
Those you *can* charm to change their mind though are the ones today considering Silverlight – which if wins will permanently destroy the financial foundation of your employer…
Though that requires you to embrace the alternatives to Silverlight that’s possible to use without having a Ph. D in JavaScript…

Comment by ThomasHansen — January 26, 2009

What a bunch of lame lazy people those microsoft guys are..
they probably have a team of consisting of 3 people, just sitting
and betting whose gonna get fired first.

They are building a new browser which worse than FF2!
they are light years away from anything worth downloading.

I’ve read this post and just felt miserable about the near internet future… :(


Comment by vsync — January 26, 2009

^,^^, and ^^^ lol

“What can I write on Ajaxian to help the case?”
Made my day :)

I feel exactly the same frustration as the users above, currently i work on third project where i use moz and webkit rounded borders and suggest IE users to switch to FF, Chrome or Safari. With a big red message in header that is ;)

Comment by kodisha — January 26, 2009

Yep, same here – we’re fed up with the time wasted supporting stupid Microsoft non-features so have resorted to “This site requires a standards based browser” type of message with links to Firefox, Chrome and Safari. IE users are welcome to browse obviously, but other than checking it’s not utterly broken we’re not going to spend effort giving them an A1 experience. The more people that adopt this attitude (and I’m hearing it from *A LOT* of web developers here in Europe) the better.

Comment by spyke — January 26, 2009

hm, how about spredding this action?
Ill write blog post later today, and write Prototype widget that displays a message… but later, must work now.. (css rounded corners included :) )

Comment by kodisha — January 26, 2009

Again with the “it will be supported” attitude. It’s how they plan to make people update/upgrade their browser that interests me, on user and their side. They don’t update and fix their software (IE6 is a great example, so is IE7), also people don’t update their software… why don’t they do like Firefox has? I’m simply fed up that it costs me money (=time) to make some pages work in bloody IE6 (and IE7)… Javascript is totally corrupted, CSS support is a joke, makes me want to put on my Doc.Martens and pay those incompetent “coders” a visit.

Comment by markob22 — January 26, 2009

When they finally fix IE they’ll probably give us the finger by making it only run on Windows 7+.

Comment by Diodeus — January 26, 2009

I don’t know how much Microsoft has to pay their IE developers to work on such a piece of crap. On the other hand it seems to be an easy job, ok, almost all web developers around the works hate you, but you don’t have much work. Support some 10 year old standards and put in some new UI features like web slices. Then make sure it doesn’t display anything correct except the good old ACID 2 test (IE8 breaks IE6 and IE7 sites, because it behaves more correctly and it breaks website for modern browsers like Safari and Firefox because it does not support all the modern CSS features). IE8 is almost worse than IE7 was, because now you have to choose: Use the more standard compliant mode, but lose most of the IE only features which made workarounds possible (css behaviors, VML) or use the compatibly which is almost like IE7, but just different enough, that you have to fix things, too.
I think the best approach is make sure your site is not completely unusable in IE and display a warning with download links to Firefox Chrome ans Safari.

Comment by AndiSkater — January 26, 2009

Don’t be too hard on Ms. I followed Ie8 from the start and they really are trying to fix things without breaking old ones. They showed a real openness when they accepted to change de default rendering to standard w3c mode instead of quirks-mode or IE7 mode. So Javascript performance was not on this list but they are introducing new functions like JSON support. I think they made a good base to build Ie9 on. And enterprises will probably accept to upgrade their old IE6 now. Mine is still stuck on IE6 for a 20k pcs park.

Comment by jeanph01 — January 26, 2009

I’m with jeanph01 on this one. I think we really just have to think of this almost as if it’s IE7 SP2 and not get too “excited” about it. Hopefully if Microsoft does a good job we’ll end up with a solid base to work from and in future, upgrading your browser won’t cause things to break.

A big reason some companies are still stuck using IE6 is because upgrading would break lots of internal applications which would be costly to fix. If Microsoft can prevent this from happening in future, so upgrading IE8 to IE9 adds support for advanced features without breaking old stuff then we’re on to a winner.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love some better css3 support but I think this release should be all about removing the barriers preventing people from upgrading their browsers in future.

Comment by andymantell — January 26, 2009

I think people here are being too harsh on the IE team. All in all, they’re doing a reasonably good job. IE’s big issue is how to fix the bugs without breaking the existing apps. This is important both for consumers and for corporations. IE is the only corporate browser of any significance, so there’s no direct comparison there to use as a benchmark. Even for consumers, it’s only fair to compare them to firefox, and firefox got popular after they nailed down their standards support, unlike IE, which has had a major uphill battle starting from IE5 towards the now complete CSS 2.1 support in IE8.
Even so, there are major gripes I have with IE development, like how IE8 is not going to have the W3C event model or the canvas tag, while I suspect both of those are much more important to most web developers than full CSS 2.1 compatibility. The pace of IE development is just too slow. They need to be moving faster than webkit or gecko to catch up, and they’re moving at the same speed or slower currently.

Comment by Joeri — January 26, 2009

Be careful what you ask for; More features implemented in IE8 and 9 will mean more edge cases totally hopelessly broken, and thus more hacking and user agent detection etc. to make anything work.

Comment by JonathanLeech — January 26, 2009

just a note, i’m saying that my sites don’t work in IE..
i do all of the IE debugging in IE6, and i include pngfix for png support.

Almost all of that process is done automatically, i have so much bad experience with IE6 that can predict where the bugs will occur, so i avoid them as early as possible.

But as spyke says, im fed up with that, so i will continue to notify my users that they have outdated/broken browser and recommend them FF/Safari/Chrome..
And also, i’m not putting giant pup-up that blocks entire site, it’s just a little message below header which user can hide and it will be remembered and not shown again…

Comment by kodisha — January 26, 2009

Can we please stop talking about IE? I’m getting a stomach ache.

Comment by Nosredna — January 26, 2009

I’m using jQuery UI’s ThemeRoller. Noticed that it doesn’t yet support curved corners on IE. Perhaps we’re getting to the point where developers will still make their sites work on IE, but not care as much about the look.
“OK. On IE it’s going to have square corners. It’ll look nice everywhere else.”
It’s not like Microsoft is trying to HELP us make things look good in IE, is it? Apparently, nice-looking things are reserved for Silverlight.

Comment by Nosredna — January 26, 2009

@andymantell,Joeri,JonathanLeech: Backward compatibility is not an excuse to not maintain modern standards support. The biggest problem facing web developers today is not how well IE supports legacy features, but how well it supports current standards.

“Backward compatibility” is less meaningful and less valuable in the context of web app development, where companies can and do roll out new versions of their sites on a monthly basis. It is much easier for web developers to update their code to take advantage of the emerging standards than it is for them to hack around IE’s deficiencies.

Perhaps what we’re really seeing is MSFT’s reluctance to let go of all the proprietary functionality they put into IE, and that gives them (at least temporarily) a bit of a stranglehold on their users.

It has me wondering what would happen if quit forcing their out-of-date browser down users’ throats and, instead, built IE9 on webkit or the mozilla browser core. Not only would this address virtually all of the complaints we developers have, it would allow MSFT to cut the size of their browser support team by 90% (and put those resources to better use).

Comment by broofa — January 26, 2009

I’ve worked a little with IE about some application. And I discovered that it proposes some features for a windows network, of course totally not standard, that works well (like automatic authentication with current windows login). I start to think that the IE team is working a lot on this kind of stuff and neglects the rendering itself.

But I find funny that they plan to support SVG but not HTML5 canvas. Are they living with a constant 5 years delay?
But if they promise so much things, let’s go for it! Let’s use all those features, that we can test under firefox and others, and get ready for IE8. If they broke their promise, it would make such a ruckus that everyone will switch to an other browser. And I would call that a winning situation for us. We would be finally free of this imposed crappy browser.

Comment by gokudomatic — January 26, 2009

The fact that the IE team is not putting much effort into strengthening their JavaScript engine shows how completely lost they really are. The future of the web is JavaScript-powered applications, and they are focusing on fixing the compatibility of their engine. I really don’t understand the logic behind that.
Dear M$, please abandon your poor excuse for a web engine, and pick up WebKit or Gecko. As far as old sites go, just use the IE7/IE8 engine for those and require all new sites to use a META tag to activate the new engine.

Comment by ajaxery — January 26, 2009

@Chris Wilson: don’t be lazy, stop sitting on your hands.

Comment by Jadet — January 26, 2009

SVG support would be extraordinary, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Comment by otakuj462 — January 26, 2009

I had a feeling that border-radius would be the next PNG… a simple detail that makes all the difference in the design of a site that they’d take a ridiculous amount of time to finally implement. I wish I’d been wrong.

I’ll throw a party the day Microsoft finally admits that it doesn’t know what it’s doing and decides to stop torturing web developers all over the world by adopting Webkit or Gecko.

I fear that day is never going to come… certainly not while Microsoft retains any trace of its old self.

Comment by pendensproditor — January 26, 2009

You know what? I don’t want IE to ever support PNG transparency or rounded corners. Because that means I get to keep reusing the javascript to give JUST IE that same experience as everyone else.

I think if IE ever adopted webkit I may actually cry tears of joy, and then bottle those tears, because no doubt a million other developers would be weeping in joy as well.

Comment by keif — January 26, 2009

haha the comments to this post really made my day :)

Comment by ceeATkalydo — January 26, 2009

@gokudomatic: Firefox also supports NTLM authentication, because believe it or not, single sign-on is pretty much mandatory in corporate environments.

@Broofa: your experience is the public web, where sites cycle in months. My experience is the dark web, behind corporate firewalls, where I’m still getting bug reports on web apps I shipped two years ago, and where there are actually web apps running shipped almost half a decade ago. Believe me, legacy support is very important to microsoft. Corporate customers are their bread and butter. IE is not a money maker, so it’s just not allowed to rock the boat for those customers. This is why they’re shipping the IE7 engine in IE8 as a fallback mode.

Comment by Joeri — January 26, 2009

The worst part is, no matter how much we rant and rave, no matter how much we show “download better browser” buttons, no matter how stupid we think Microsoft is…the reality is, at the end of the day, there are still tons of people using IE. And personally working for a creative firm, it doesn’t matter how much I hate supporting IE…the numbers speaks for themselves.

How frustrating it is.

Comment by Jonny — January 26, 2009

No border radius property kinda sucks, but I would rather for them to do what they seem to have already been doing: focusing on existing bugs and such. First fix what’s broken, then start adding new stuff.

I haven’t been testing the IE8 beta. Does it come with automatic updates? This will at least encourage people to upgrade. It’s kind of sad to see so many innovations today and yet be held back by 20% of users who still use an 8-year-old browser. If IE7 was released in late 2006 and IE8 will be released later this year (2009) and neither support border radius or other features, in 8 years time will 20% of users still be using it? Will we still have to stress over things that aren’t implemented, such as border radius?

Or maybe by then no one will be impressed by rounded corners. Everything moves in cycles. Maybe 8 years from now square will be the new round. Google Reader is trying to get ahead of the game in that respect :)

Comment by davidcalhoun — January 26, 2009

And here I thought IE8 is finally going to be proper browser. Instead MS just screws everybody over again. I’m putting a personal “deadline” – on January 1st, 2010 I am no longer bothering to even check how anything I write looks in IE, any version. If IE is “smart” enough by that point to display everything properly and work as expected, great, if not, well then too bad for anyone using it.

Comment by iliad — January 26, 2009

I remember the time when Ajaxian’s visitor where real professionnals posting useful and interresting comments… not angry teenagers.

Comment by ywg — January 27, 2009

Yes, IE have that effect on in all other regards normal grown-ups… ;)
IE brings out the worst in us, and quite frankly that’s no wonder…!

Comment by ThomasHansen — January 27, 2009

@davidcalhoun: maybe galactica-style octagonal borders will become the new round. Come on IE, give me some of that border-triangle css goodness! :)

Comment by Joeri — January 27, 2009

Does this count?

Comment by TNO — January 27, 2009

Implementing SVG or Canvas in IE will impede the spread of Silverlight. I personally don’t think full featured dynamic graphic components fit in browser environment very well, unless browsers utilize graphic card directly. It’s slow and inefficient and unpractical.

The Flash plugin model works great and is a huge success. I think the problem with MS is that they’ve been too ambitious/greedy. They want something more powerful than Flash, so they started SilverLight/WPF, but they don’t want to put effort to make it available on Linux, or make it available on Firefox, as those are potential competitors with Windows and IE respectively. It seems they didn’t realize the power of Flash comes from both vector graphic AND platform neutrality. Therefore they came up with this powerful SL which only works IE and labeled it “cross-platform” because it also runs on OSX. Which is like a joke and definitely a misleading use of “cross-platform”.

Comment by coolnalu — January 27, 2009

“I personally don’t think full featured dynamic graphic components fit in browser environment very well, unless browsers utilize graphic card directly.”
Opera and Webkit seem to do well enough with 2D and no hardware acceleration. Firefox has an OpenGL based backend planned for the next major release:

Comment by TNO — January 27, 2009

Lack of Canvas support is inexcusable. They already have the VML rendering engine, and all they would need to do is convert excanvas.js to C++, add a bit of text support and they’re good to go. How hard can that be.
That they’re not going to is telling, but I think this is going to bite them in the bum hard.
I believe the same effort and resources that have gone into Javascript over the last few years, are going to go into Canvas over the next few years, and when the corporate customers that they’re relying on see the fruits of that effort, they’re going to make the decision to break with IE, and adopt other browsers, because they won’t even be able to view it in IE. put their market share at 68% at the end of 2008. I can see that share dropping to under 50% by end 2010 as a result of this decision.

Comment by paulhan — January 27, 2009

A little bit of good old reality for “native SVG in IE9 is likely”: — just read the thread.
Canvas can be implemented in 1 week by a skilled Windows developer as an ActiveX. MS doesn’t do it and it tells us something about their plans too.
Given the situation the best they can do is to EOL the IE line, adopt WebKit, and create a browser that can invoke old IE code for legacy web sites. This step will save them money, and make users happy. Anything short of that is not good enough.

Comment by elazutkin — January 28, 2009

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