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Microsoft rethinks IE8′s default behavior

By Aaron Gustafson | March 3rd, 2008 | Filed in Browsers, Microsoft, Microsoft TF

Perhaps it was our complaining or perhaps it was a reconsideration of its own interoperability principles, but Microsoft has decided to change its course on IE8 and will opt-in to its new standards mode by default.

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This afternoon, in an announcement posted on the IE Blog, Microsoft officially reversed its position on IE8′s default behavior with regard to its new standards mode. The browser will now automatically opt-in all websites to “super standards mode” unless explicitly told not to (using IE’s version targeting mechanism).

So what does this mean? Well, a few things:

  1. Standards-based developers will not have to add an additional header to their server or another meta element to their markup to realize the benefits of IE8′s new rendering and scripting engines.
  2. Any non-standards aware developers will need to be educated to either a) implement version targeting, or b) get their site compliant.
  3. Anyone using JavaScript that engages in browser sniffing will need to replace that for feature detection (and check their third-party code too) as many assumptions about IE’s scripting engine could be proven false in this release.

This was a very complex issue and I fully understood and had come to accept Microsoft’s earlier decision to break with convention and not automatically opt sites in to the new engine, but I have to say I’m glad they’ve reversed that decision. In the end, this does put more pressure on them to get the word out about how version targeting can prevent a recurrence of the issues that came about when IE7 released, but, personally, I feel their product (and the web at large) is better for it.

What do you think?

Your Replies

#1 On March 3rd, 2008 6:06 pm