IE8 Changes Direction Towards Standards

Tiff Fehr

March 3, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Today Microsoft announced that IE8 will render standards mode by default. This is a fairly big reversal from the initial stance that web professionals would need to include a special instruction, X-UA-compatible, to render a website in standards mode, rather than the default rendering currently in IE7 (I think I got that right — I’m still working through the comments about the first announcement just a few weeks ago).

While many people might feel surprised and vindication that the IE8 team heard (and heard and heard again) our collective dismay, I think we should take the opportunity in their reversal to tone down the knee-jerk abuse heaped on IE as a whole. In fact, let’s go one-over: what if web professionals actively helped the IE8 team correct issues with the next version?

IE8 not going to be perfect out-the-door, and we’re still going to work to bring our websites in line. In fact it is likely we’ll be supporting IE6, IE7 and IE8 simultaneously, for a lot longer than we would probably like. But rather than make the IE team chase down blog posts and comments about the inevitable standardista-rankling bugs (where they’re already on the defensive due to our immature ranting, I might add), what if we put our effort into a collective bug list? Would that really be a waste of our time and effort, or would it help bring IE8 into a true collaborative position in the web community? Once that collaboration is built into both sides, it is going to be hard to drop. This is a rare chance, in my mind, and we need to think about it with a bigger perspective than one additional tag.

I should note that I got a rare chance to share a happy hour drink with the IE8 team last week, shortly after they got word about the change. They gathered their resources, swapped war stories of previous versions’ upheavals and hunkered down for very long hours to meet the new goal. While it was hardly a formal interview, the team is a very smart bunch who fully understand the web-standards perspective and are very happy to discuss it. So how about we discuss it with them?