Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7

Category: IE

The IE team has created a new value for the X-UA-Compatible header in IE 8 IE=EmulateIE7.

We already had IE=7, which causes the page to be displayed in “IE7 Standards mode.” This forces both quirks and standards mode pages up that path, and people were asking for a solution that only pushes the non-quirks mode ones to change, thus the new option:

In response to the great IE8 Beta 1 feedback we’ve received so far, we are introducing the “IE=EmulateIE7” tag to address this problem. EmulateIE7 tells IE8 to display standards DOCTYPEs in IE7 Standards mode, and Quirks DOCTYPEs in Quirks mode. We believe this will be the preferred IE7 compatibility mode for most cases. Support for IE=EmulateIE7 is available now as part of the IE June Security Update for IE8 Beta 1. Installing this update will enable you to verify you’ve applied the EmulateIE7 tag to your site correctly.

Implementing the HTTP header is beneficial if a site owner wants most of their site to render as it did in IE7 or if there are no plans to update site content. Inclusion of this header honors any Quirks mode pages that belong to the site.

Using the meta-tag on a per-page basis is beneficial when the publisher wants to opt-in specific pages to render as they did in IE7.

The X-UA-Compatible tag and header override any existing DOCTYPE. Also, the mode specified by the page takes precedent over the HTTP header. For example, you could add the EmulateIE7 HTTP header to a site, and set specific pages to display in IE8 mode (by using the meta-tag with content=”IE8”).

Using the IE=EmulateIE7 compatibility tag is a simple way for users to continue their current experience when browsing your site until you can update with more standards-compliant content. Although adding this tag will prevent most display issues, you may also need to update your site to properly detect IE8. To learn more about IE8 document compatibility and browser detection, check out the IE Compatibility Center.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:22 am

3.2 rating from 29 votes


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Good call from Microsoft!!!

I am really looking foward to a new IE, and even more to official support for IE6 ending. Hopefully these changes will help the adoption of IE7 and IE8, and will help move the web several years forward.

Comment by MorganRoderick — June 11, 2008

I still believe this feature harms the whole idea behind standardization of the web. Instead of forcing webdevelopers to fix their website to be more standard compliant they just provide a workaround for lazy people who don’t want to do it. This means that websites created for IE7 may not render properly in Firefox or other standard compliant browsers. I couldn’t make up from the text if this feature will replace the EmulateIE7 button in IE8b1 or if this feature is just an extension to it. But that button is by far the most dangerous thing I’ve seen in a browser. If people just enable that feature by default, webdevelopers will still have to workaround problems for IE7. Although the rendering in IE7 is way better than in IE6 but the problems with Javascript still remain. I really hope IE8 is finally the first browser in the IE series that will get a fast adaptation. Let’s cross our fingers.

Comment by AriesBelgium — June 11, 2008

Morgan, I don’t now if this will speed the support of IE7 or IE8. The IT department at my place of employment (a rather large corporation) still have no plans to update from IE6. For them it is not what MS supports but rather what they feel they can support. It may speed its deployment in some locations, but at a large corporation such updates will take at least one to two years from the time they decide to allow the update.

Comment by nblade — June 11, 2008

I’m not really happy with IE8 right now, it’s just far away from other browsers with javascript quality, and when others goes with canvas 3D, video tag or CSS3 ou css animations, IE8 still just implement almost correctly CSS2 …

IE8 should have been released like this about 2 years ago, and even at this time, it’s broken JavaScript API would have been definitively a bad point for it.

So it will just be probably another case to support with it’s own bug and almost no new good feature for web developers (except the developer bar, which is far from perfect and is lacking for a good logger API at the moment), so just another boring new IE release

Comment by temsa — June 11, 2008

IE will always be a special child in the browser class. Whatever they decide to come out with, just nod your head and say OK, Whatever. Even if they come out with a truly standards compliant version, you still have their predecessors to worry about. IE is like herpes, it never goes away.

You know that saying with monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare, it’s like the IE developers at Microsoft and a compliant browser. Ignore them while they eat their bananas.

Comment by cdude — June 11, 2008

“IE developers at Microsoft and a compliant browser. Ignore them while they eat their bananas.”
Look, I hate IE as much as the next guy. But Microsoft developers are absolutely not the problem, and haven’t been for years. Insulting their developers does nothing to improve the situation and must be absolutely demoralizing for them as they’re forced to jump through a billion useless marketing hoops and ridiculous requirements that have exactly nothing to do with making a good browser.
Look at it this way: of course Microsoft’s developers care about web developers, it should go without saying; it’s their marketing department and management team who aren’t on board. And for that matter, management has had very good reason to resist improving their browser: it wasn’t until very recently that there was any real competition. The fact that IE8 kindasorta passes Acid 2 is evidence that even the most monolithic, bureaucratic corporations eventually wake up when challenged. They finally realized that users do care about what developers care about, even if they don’t realize it. After all, when more and more content requires a more advanced browser, MS loses its control of the market.

Comment by eyelidlessness — June 12, 2008

I can’t wait for IE8 and I think this META tag is a great idea. I hope the other browsers adopt this or something simular. Sadly, I don’t believe this will speed up the adoption of new browsers.

Comment by kim3er — June 12, 2008


I agree, but I seem to miss any asterisks denoting emphasis in *your* post. This is Ajaxian, FCOL!

Comment by BjornGoransson — June 12, 2008


Comment by eyelidlessness — June 12, 2008

@kim3er: why should other browsers addopt this “feature”? For webdevelopers who are to lazy to fix their website on other browsers? This is just another feature that looks great at first but I believe a lot of website designers and developers are going to curse on this feature once it’s there. What’s purpose of having a standard compliant browser (or at least sort of standard compliant) if you can just disable it. If IE8 is standard compliant, like the IE team sais it is, then a website should look the same in Firefox and IE8, period.

Comment by AriesBelgium — June 12, 2008

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