back to article IE8 to follow web standards by default

Microsoft is to develop IE8 so that it follows web standards by default and will retain a controversial mode switching proposal. Internet Explorer general manager Dean Hachamovitch conceded that the move is a change from what Microsoft had previously said and prompted (at least in part) by a desire to avoid regulatory and …


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  1. Joseph Haig

    Compliance vs compatibility.

    "IE8 will have three rendering modes: one that reflects Microsoft's implementation of current web standards, an IE7 standards mode, and a third based on rendering methods dating back to the early web."

    Does it also have a leap-year bug to maintain compliance with Excel?

    I would like to think that Microsoft will be doing it properly in IE8, but "interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can" sounds too much like a get-out clause for when it turns out that IE8 standards compliance is as bad as every previous version.

  2. Jamie

    Thats a first

    This will be a first for MS if they actually do stick to a known standard when releasing a new peice of software.

    It definily will be nice to see pages display the same in IE as it does in Opera or Firefox/Mozilla.

    I gave up trying and worry more about it showing correctly in Firefox/Mozilla and if it works in IE perfect if it did not to bad was the way I went.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Only Microsoft..

    Can crow so much about how good they are about deciding to follow standards.

    All the previous versions of IE have caused pain and grief to everyone apart from the most die-hard Microsoft lickspittle . But no... apparently the rest of the world has been wrong and now IE will do what other browsers have been trying to do for years and its apparently a great and wonderful thing and something they can brag about....

    When will they actually turn round and admit they are not always right and that the sun doesn't shine of out of their arse?

  4. Avi
    Thumb Up

    At least they're honest

    They're being interoperable not out of a desire to produce good software, but to avoid lawsuits.

  5. Martin Lyne


    "We've decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can"

    Right. So it won't be standards compliant then.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Just read the blog..

    "Long term, we believe this is the right thing for the web. Shorter term, leading up not just to IE8’s release but broader IE8 adoption, this choice creates a clear call to action to site developers to make sure their web content works well in IE. This topic is one of many things we’ll talk about with respect to IE8 at MIX this week."

    So basically we'll still have to code round IE8 crapness??

    So IE8 "standards" will be as crap and as non standard as IE7 and IE6 and IE5 but will be a different set of crapness?

    If Microsoft want to do this properly they will code IE8 to follow W3C standards and not their own perverted version of what they think the standards should be.

  7. Leigh Smith

    Sure it will!

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  8. Steve Anderson

    "IE7 Standards mode"

    How can it be a standard if only one thing uses it? Or do they want it to read that it renders only up to the same standards as IE7, which would be like calling it, ooh, "GCSE-standards coursework"?

  9. Chris Cheale

    And you very nearly had my hopes up there...

    a "purer" IE8 standards mode


    I was all full of hope for a brief moment then when I read the title - I thought maybe, just maybe, MS are finally putting some time/effort into their neglected hunkajunk web browser - maybe actually making a genunie attempt at meeting the W3C standards they help define.

    But no, IE8 "standard" mode... just "purer".

    How much purer? Will there be a usable JS DOM? How about CSS2 being finally implemented properly (forget CSS3 for now)? Will the box model actually render correctly (width+padding = actual width)?

    Are they going to be moving forward, trying to get it ready for HTML5 (or better yet XHTML2 + xForms + CSS3) or will it simply be an effort to catch up with Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Firefox, SeaMonkey... ?

  10. Adam Trickett

    The IE Factor

    Designing web pages that look good across the various browsers excluding IE is relatively easy. Most non IE users tend to keep them up to date and as a general rule if you use a recent XHTML DTD each browser does it's best to stick to the standards. The up shot is that if it looks good in Firefox, it should be okay in Opera or Safari/Konqueror.

    IE is a royal pain in the bottom, each version has it's own bugs, no version is actually standard compliant, and because of slow upgrades you see a wide range of versions actually in use in the wild. You end up writing one webpage and style-sheet in no time at all, then spending the rest of your development trying to hop through hoops to get it to look good on all the different versions of IE and their differing incompatibilities.

    These days I don't look after work's web pages so I don' have the worry any more, now I design to the standards for my own pages and if people are unlucky/stupid enough to be running IE then tough - that's there problem not mine.

  11. John Latham


    Microsoft has reversed a bad decision. And you criticise this? FFS, give them some credit.

    I switched from IE to FF a couple of years ago. Now FF is a slow and bloated, so I use Opera. It's fast, but crashes a lot and has limited extensibility.

    I'll probably never go back to IE, but none of these browsers are perfect.


  12. Anonymous Coward

    3 modes

    So now i have to code for IE 6 & IE 7, in addition to the standards browsers which i was coding for anyway... now i have IE6, IE7 IE8 and the standards browsers.

    Gradually MS are taking my life away since it will take even more time to do build a page that works for everyone.

    Is that a theme with MS, the newer the software the harder it is to do what you actually want to do.

    I dispair of MS even though i don't use their crap software.

  13. b
    Gates Horns

    microsoft $%^£%^$&$%

    it should have been this way from day 1. M$ are like a big crime syndicate. restrictive practices and anti-competitive.

    speaking as someone who has spent many HOURS trying to get layouts behaving in FF, IE6 and IE7, all i can say is:

    F*%^$£( Microsoft !!!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Let me guess...

    ...IE8 will only be available for Vista?

    So looking for the darkest of the dark side:

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

    is required webside

    Vista is required client side

    And the "meets standards" claim means?

    The Penguin, Batman, because I'm not the The Joker

  15. g e

    It's nice...

    ... to think that finally the lawsuits, bugs & incompatibilities are starting to become more expensive than fixing the problem meaning that behaving correctly is now an important aspect of the M$ revenue stream.


  16. Eric

    Standards Schmandards

    Who cares. Until they can come up with a UI as good as IE6's, I doubt I'll switch. Opera comes close, but doesn't quite get there.

    Its too bad Microsoft decided to go down the horrifying UI path that is IE7/Vista Explorer. Its like they looked at Firefox and the Mac Finder and decided to take out the absolute worst parts.

  17. Dennis SMith
    Gates Horns

    I'll believe it when I see it.

    Of course there is always THEIR interpretation of standards, and everyone else's interpretation of standards.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @John Latham

    People are just voicing there scepticism, if they do it we will all be happy, but noone believes it will be any where near what they says.

    Bloated FF? Try and remove your 101 addons...

  19. KenBW2

    I hate IE as much as the next poster...

    ... but why are you having a go at them for doing something the web developing world has been praying for for years?!

    I only hope they do a forced Windows Update or it'll be another 5 years before usage is widespread enough to be reliable.

    My biggest worry is how long will they be standards compliant before we all say "oh you use IE. That's OK" then they let it stagnate for another 6 years...

  20. Chris Williams

    It's our fault...

    ... ok, well not one of us here is going to personally take the blame, but it's true to say that Microsoft has enjoyed great success with its non-compliant browser and largely because for many years a large proportion of web developers lazily aimed for IE only, with Firefox, Safari, Konquerer and Opera users seen as marginals who could safely be ignored.

    Microsoft got away with it for too long, but what would happen if suddenly its browser was standards compliant and hundreds of [yes, crappy, unprofessional] websites stopped working? It would be another 'bloody Microsoft' moment for the developers and their sites' users.

    It's not good that IE evolved as it did, and I'm certainly not defending Microsoft as a shining example when it comes to good practice in software, but here I can't help thinking they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    Ideally, of course, the confusion will drive all users to consider alternatives...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Browsers adhering to standards, but what about developers?

    Perhaps we should be focusing on the amateur web developers out there writing slop HTML and CSS.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloated FF

    Now that is plain and simple crap.

    I agree Opera is probably more secure, but the page looks far to busy to me, I prefer the clean looks of FF

  23. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    "IE7mode?" AAAAgh!

    We all know what will happen here.The purveyors of rubbish content management ,site builder and corporate web app tools, that have only ever worked properly with IE6/7, will still not implement the patches to comply with W3C. They will just patch the page generator to add the "IE7-mode=on" tag to the header. Job done.

    Only if IE8 rendered W3C only would all this rubbish get fixed. As it is, you're still forced to use IE on far to many (e-commerce) sites, as otherwise they either fail, or chuck your money away.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    IE8 standards mode

    As an occasional web developer, I don't mind at all having to insert a meta flag that says "work properly you lousy browser". After all, at the moment you have to have separate CSS files for IE7, IE6, IE5.5, etc all working around the different bugs.

    Its called IE8 standards mode? Not W3C standards mode? Oh. Ah well, time to learn how IE8 CSS workarounds are done then...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Oh, jeez...

    ...I'm no fan of IE6/IE7's horrible quirks, and it makes developing a pain in the ass - I'd welcome true standards compliance in a minute.

    But seeing the garbled, middle-school fanboi comments here definitely makes one think. "With friends like these..."

  26. Ross

    Re: Eric

    [Who cares. Until they can come up with a UI as good as IE6's, I doubt I'll switch. Opera comes close, but doesn't quite get there]

    Eh? You think tabbed browsing in a clean, fast and responsive UI isn't as good as IE6's "spam your task bar and open each page in front of the current one" piece of rubbish?

    It pains me to use IE6 at work, as when I want to open half a dozen links from one page then read them I have to open each one in a new window, then minimize them, open the next, minimize it etc. IE6's UI is also fixed - if you don't like it you need to break out a resource editor, resource compiler, disassembler and debugger. Best of luck skinning it.

    I also dislike the way my screen gets abused by popups in IE6, the fact I can't disable javascript page by page, nor block images by server, and I have to go into the favourite menu to load a common website rather than hitting speed dial, etc.

    Opera isn't the only choice. There are plenty of other browsers that are notably superior to any version of IE. I just happen to prefer Opera.

    As long as IE is so tightly integrated into the OS, and - let's face it - crap, I shall stick with superior 3rd party offerings.

  27. Greg

    Hold the phone!

    You guys have missed something wonderful, something marvellous, something that has made my day brighter. Think about it.

    IE8 may well work with W3C standards by default.

    IE8 is Vista only.

    If IE8 works with standards, I won't have to buy Vista to see how things look in IE8!

    One less reason to buy that shitty OS! :-)

  28. Rich Harding

    I think some of you may have misread...

    ...particularly those of you slagging off so-called "whiners". It's not at all clear from the piece how compliant to W3C Standards IE8 Standards Mode will be. One would like to hope that it'll be a lot more compliant than IE7 and that that's why they've agreed to the change but I see no guarantees whatsoever.

    It's kind of self-selecting really - anyone arguing the general drift of the well-known "Time Breakdown of Modern Web Design" graphic is on a bit of a loser convincing most of us you have the faintest clue what you're talking about.

  29. Bruno Girin

    Standard? What standard?

    Phew... For a second I was afraid to look out the window, just in case I saw pigs flying. But we are safe: MS didn't say *what* standard they would comply to. HTML 4? 5? XHTML 1? 2? Microsoft Embraced, Enhanced and Extended HTML? None of the above?

    Then again, knowing the people at the Web Standards who are actually talking to Microsoft, we may still be in for a (nice) surprise. Can we have world peace next please?

  30. Ash

    They'd be better off...

    Un-fudging the OS it's being released on.


  31. Hedley Phillips

    Will it be...

    As compliant as Microsofts HTML and XML?

    Can't wait.

  32. Jon

    Acid test

    Will it pass this though

  33. Mark Broadhurst
    Gates Halo

    No Browser is 100% Stanard compliant

    which is why I don't believe MS will get it to be either but it should be a hell of a lot closer than the previous versions.

    Lets face it if there was a browser out there which was 100% standard compliant no one would use it since everything would look "funny" in it.

  34. frymaster


    "So now i have to code for IE 6 & IE 7, in addition to the standards browsers which i was coding for anyway... now i have IE6, IE7 IE8 and the standards browsers."

    There's a _fully_ standards compliant broswer? Tell me quick, I've been stuck with Firefox and Opera...

    ... and the point is, no, you don't have to code against all of them. If IE6 compatability is such an issue for you, write one version of your styling that works with firefox/opera, one version that works with ie6 quirks, and use a) conditional comments and b)ie8 renderer selection to ensure that a) the workarounds only appear on ie, and b) all versions of ie will render it the same (i believe if you're in quirks mode ie7 behaves like ie6 anyway)

    I would also note that people who equate "standards-compliant" with either the most popular versions of firefox OR opera, are asking for as much trouble as people who only test webpages with IE6

  35. RW


    I simply don't think Microsoft is capable of writing a standards-compliant browser, no matter how much the brass may push for one.

    1. They'll misconstrue the standards left, right, and center, thanks to...

    1a. inexperience in following standards (poor reading comprehension)

    1b. a tendency to jump to conclusions and think they understand something when they're actually still at the "for Dummies" level (pride & arrogance)

    1c. the MS philosophy of dumbing down the computing experience so Joe Sixpack never has to think: the point and drool interface IOW.

    2. It'll be full of programming errors thanks to...

    2a. persistent use of programming platforms that do not automagically check array bounds. Lotsa buffer overflows! Lotsa security holes!

    2b. improper modularization so inter-module interfaces are way too w---i---d---e. The KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) seems to be an illegal philosophy in Redmond.

    2c. retention of old, buggy code from previous versions of IE. More buffer overflows! More security holes!

    3. Some of these misconstructions and errors will be deeply embedded in the architectural foundation of the beast and impossible to correct without a complete re-write.

    Prediction: IE 8 will only be available for Vista, in order to coerce customers into adopting that much-maligned OS. This strategy will backfire because Firefox & Opera already provide XP-diehards with standards-compliant browsing, and once someone has dipped a toe into the deep waters of open source and 3rd-party software, there'll be no holding them back. Linux, here we come! Open Office, here we come!

    Heart because I love Microsoft: they're *so* predictable!

  36. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Being Pedantic ...... or just Thrust Wwworthy?

    ""We've decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we've posted previously."

    Would Internet Explorer general manager Dean Hachamovitch care to decide on whether that statement would be better understood to be and rewritten ...We've decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way IT can. ...... so that the standard is a Global Default Interpretation which others will need to Compete against if they choose not to Follow by Example?

  37. Morely Dotes
    Jobs Horns


    "This page best viewed in a standards-compliant browser (Internet Explorer is not standards compliant)."

  38. Jeremy
    Thumb Up

    Re: They'd be better off...

    > Un-fudging the OS it's being released on.

    I do believe the phrase you're looking for is "debollux" :)

  39. Eric

    @ ross

    Theres nothing stopping you from adding tabbed browsing or whatever other plugins you want to IE. Most of what you mentioned already exists. The problem for me is when I get onto a system with IE7 installed and the only other alternative is some garbage like firefox, its painful. Luckily I have a simple reg file I can use to remove the command bar and worthless search bar from IE. Which makes it usable, but not ideal.

    Also, the intigration with explorer is probably the feature I miss the most when IE6 is not available. Being able to go back and forth between the web and the file system is a great convenience.

    And while opera isn't the only 3rd party browser, it is far and away the best of them.

  40. Steve

    days (hours?) after release

    it will require at least one critical update

  41. Paul

    Welcome reversal

    Good. As far as I'm concerned, my code is standards compliant (or at least, that's my intent, and I validate it to make sure), so the damn browser should treat it as such by default. How hard can it be to detect broken HTML and fall back to a suitable non-standards rendering mode?

    Of course this *doesn't* address how well IE8 will really handle the rendering of standards compliant pages. Microsoft's track record here is hardly impressive. But if they stand by this decision, at least I won't have to put in Microsoft specific stuff just to have the browser behave somewhat as it should.

  42. yeah, right.
    Gates Horns

    @ the Microsoft shills

    We're having a go at Microsoft because we don't BELIEVE them.

    We don't believe them when they claim they will be "standards compliant". We don't believe them when they claim they will do anything that doesn't continue the lock-in campaign they have waged for over 20 years. We don't believe that they have any intention of following any "standard" that doesn't increase their market share. Just look at their actions with respect to OOXML to see the real Microsoft in action.

    They have a long, well documented history of announcing one thing in order to avoid lawsuits or unwanted government attention, only to turn around and do exactly the opposite because of fake "technical" issues. Why should anyone with half a brain believe them now, given how untrustworthy, unscrupulous, underhanded and utterly unethical they have proven themselves to be over the 33 years of their existence?

  43. William Bronze badge


    So what opera renders similar to firefox, neither of them render the same way. In fact, none of the current slew of browsers are standards compatible.

    But best not to let facts get in the way of a good rant eh?


  44. Eddie Johnson

    If a browser fails to render nonexistent code ...

    "the large quantity of legacy content authored around IE7's behaviors"

    Seriously? They think someone has been writing to a nonstandard browser that has a single digit market share? Or are they just talking about FrontPage generated garbage? Because I doubt even FrontPage targets IE7. I only know maybe one person who uses it.

    Its hilarious that Vista's browser is already considered legacy and no one has even adopted it yet.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    We will take your information

    We will sell your information

    You will agree to what ever we say

    We will give you no choice

    Yip cant wait for IE8, so happy!

  46. Anonymous Coward

    IE Market Share Must Suffer Before Anything Will Change

    All of the comments are very interesting, but if everybody hasn't been paying attention since IE1/Spyglass Mosiac in 1994, Microsoft only listens to their own market share trends.

    This means that instead of everyone whining, the sooner everyone gets everyone else to switch to Opera9, FF3, or Safari3, the sooner no one will care ever again what IE does or does not do in their next pathetic version.

    If you find you need to use IE for one or two sites, set it up as a home page or bookmark in IE so, it starts up automatically for your Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt, non-techie brother, sister, cousin, friend, boss, work colleague...whomever.

    In this way, 99% of their browsing can be in Opera, for example, while they can use IE for those couple IE-specific sites.

  47. Simon Day

    Standards are wonderful things

    There are so many of them to choose from....

    (and anyone complaining about HTML should try debugging different vendor implementations of SCSI some time)

  48. Geoff Mackenzie

    Broken browsers

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=25" />

    Standard compliant browsers will ignore it of course; easier than ever to shut out IE lusers. Up yours, MS :)

    Who codes for IE? I just check for IE and add a 'get firefox' button and a note about broken browsers, and remove the bug reporting form.

  49. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Ah, hell, now the webwon't work...

    It's great having standards-compliant browsers. Now will someone please connect me to a standards-compliant internet? I hate IE but it does have the minor advantage of displaying web pages, and when the page is broken it has a go at displaying it as best it can. About twice a year I swap for FireFox - but I always come back within a month after finding a site I can't see properly in FF.

    Excuse me while I put on the venom-proof coat and await replies....

  50. paul

    FFwd a few years => IE is irrelevant.

    By the time ie8 is widespread , its market share will be down massively. PCs are not the only things browsing the web.

    Mobile phones, linux UMPC , game consoles, TV recorders , blu ray players , et c etc will all be on the internet happily browsing away. The big blue E is not going to be adopted by any of these. (well apart from the xbox 720).

  51. Carl Garner


    "Microsoft is to develop IE8 so that it follows web standards by default and will retain a controversial mode switching proposal."

    How about they develop a piece of software that:

    a) works

    b) does what other variants do

    c) doesn't remotely try to be better by "switching modes"

    It's so annoying as a web systems developer to have to add in extra hacks to make things look the same in a MS browser as they do in REAL browsers!

    Having said that, I think I may start adopting the attitude towards MS users that Geoff Mackenzie has

  52. Patrick O'Reilly
    IT Angle


    I tried this Beta last night and it's the buggiest and most unstable piece of software I've ever used.

    Not to mention the fact that it only passed 14 of the 100 ACID 3 tests.

    I see long late nights ahead in Redmond.

  53. Chika
    Paris Hilton

    Sloppy amateur code?

    @one of other of the Anonymous Cowards on this subject.

    "Perhaps we should be focusing on the amateur web developers out there writing slop HTML and CSS"

    Perhaps you should consider the number of pages written by supposedly professional web developers that have serious flaws in them that make so many amateur sites look wonderful. Actually, I find that corporate sites tend to be bigger offenders when it comes to interoperability than any amateur.

    The Paris angle? Well, we *are* talking about Microsoft, aren't we?

  54. Chris

    IE8 - Vista

    I don't know why everyone thinks IE8 is Vista only. I'm running the Beta on XP Pro now.

    And I don't know what Patrick O'Reilly has done either, but it works pretty well. Time for a virus scan eh? Obviously a few minor problems, (The Reg's very own CSS doesn't render quite right in it) but nothing of any major concern.

    I have had it crash a couple of times when trying some complicated (badly made) sites, but unlinke all the others it can and does recover itself, including where you were in all your tabs.

    The IE7 compatibility mode does also seem to run everything fine.

    If you have coded your site sloppily, it works great. I've checked over my entire site and it renders it all perfectly well.

    This seems like exactly what people have been whinging about wanting for years. I don't see the problem with it.

    Can't please some people eh?

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