The Web Standards Project » Microsoft Working together for standards Fri, 01 Mar 2013 18:30:30 +0000 en hourly 1 An End to Aging IE Installs Thu, 15 Dec 2011 20:33:51 +0000 agustafson Today is a momentous day.

After spending years of griping about IE6’s staying power and lamenting Microsoft’s earlier decision to advocate against upgrading to IE7 (a decision they didn’t stick with, thankfully), Microsoft has turned a new leaf today, announcing that they will be pushing updates to IE to anyone who takes part in their Windows Update service.

What does this mean? Well, it means that grandma will be upgraded to IE8 if she’s still on Windows XP or IE9 if she’s on Vista or Windows 7.

Corporations (and individuals) still have the ability to opt-out of these updates, but this move should put an end to upgrades that haven’t happened purely because users didn’t know how to upgrade to a new version of IE. As Microsoft’s own Peter Laudati so eloquently put it, “Upgrade Your Parents Browser Weekend” is now officially obsolete.

]]> 18
IE9 looks really promising Mon, 28 Jun 2010 12:06:10 +0000 agustafson FTW!]]> When the IE team announced their work on IE9 earlier this year, they promised three major improvements:

  1. HTML5
  2. CSS3
  3. speed

Now three “developer previews” in, by all accounts they’re living up to that promise: HTML5 support is increasing rapidly (including support for canvas; as PPK just confirmed, their CSS3 support is nearly complete; and several benchmark tests put them right up there with Chrome in terms of speed.

In playing around with the browser, I’ve been really impressed so far. To me, IE9 really puts the oft-maligned browser on par with the remainder of the browser landscape and even gives them the edge in certain cases. My hat’s off to the IE team, this is great work. I’m excited to see what happens as it continues to develop.

You can download the IE9 preview and check out some of the demos at, but keep in mind that you’ll need Vista or Windows 7 to run it.

]]> 32
IE8 Has Arrived Fri, 20 Mar 2009 13:14:20 +0000 agustafson As you may have heard, yesterday marked the official release of Internet Explorer 8. This new version of the oft-reviled browser has a completely rewritten rendering engine that was built, from the ground up, with the CSS 2.1 spec in hand. Improvements in this version include
  • the death of hasLayout
  • object fallbacks
  • stylable legend elements
  • generated content (including support for dynamic attribute insertion via attr())
  • CSS counters
  • support for the quotes property
  • outline control
  • data URIs
  • full access to the style attribute via the DOM
  • mutable DOM prototypes
  • and much more

This browser is a giant leap forward for standards support at Microsoft, but reviews so far seem mixed. What do you think?

]]> 35
Microsoft releases the first IE8 Beta Wed, 05 Mar 2008 22:44:53 +0000 agustafson Microsoft released its first beta of Internet Explorer 8 today. They have also relaunched the Internet Explorer Developer Center and submitted a ton of tests in their CSS 2.1 test suite to the W3C for use in their test suite.

Chris Wilson’s talk introducing IE8 (and passing ACID2 live) should be up on the Mix08 site within 24 hours.

]]> 36
Microsoft rethinks IE8′s default behavior Mon, 03 Mar 2008 22:50:21 +0000 agustafson interoperability principles, but Microsoft has decided to change its course on IE8 and will opt-in to its new standards mode by default.]]> 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?

]]> 45
WaSP Round Table: IE8′s Default Version Targeting Behavior Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:45:35 +0000 agustafson On 16 February, Web Standards Project Members Faruk Ateş, Porter Glendinning, and I got together with Chris Wilson, Platform Architect for Internet Explorer to talk about IE8′s proposed default version targeting behavior of having to opt-in to the browser’s new standards mode.

As you may recall, the version targeting opt-in requires developers to use the new X-UA-Compatible HTTP header (or the meta equivalent) in order to take advantage of the standards-based layout and scripting improvements in the IE8. Under the current setup, any page/server not opting-in to would continue to render and behave as though it were being viewed in IE7, even if the site was being viewed on IE8, IE9, or IE1000. This doesn’t sit well with many standards-aware developers who think that the IE team got it backwards; many of them believe that you should have to opt-in to keep your site from being interpreted by newer layout and scripting engines. (Folks interested in hearing both sides of that argument should check out the latest issue of A List Apart, where Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman square off on the topic.)

In our “round table” discussion, we talked about several proposals from the community that could help bring IE8′s standards mode to the masses, including:

  • encouraging Microsoft to ship a patch to IIS that automatically targets sites run on that server to IE7 (in hopes of avoiding the potentially catastrophic impact IE8 may have on intranets and the like);
  • shipping the IE8 beta with standards mode on by default just to see how many sites break; and
  • making IE8 a standalone browser, capable of being run side-by-side with IE7 to allow users the flexibility of using one broswer for some sites and the other for other sites.

If you are interested in listening to or reading a transcript of the discussion, you can do so by following one of these links:

I’d like to give special thanks to fellow WaSPs Glenda Sims and Steph Troeth for organizing, producing, and transcribing this Round Table.

This buzz has been translated into Polish.

]]> 22
Microsoft’s Version Targeting Proposal Tue, 22 Jan 2008 15:17:09 +0000 drewm Over at A List Apart today is Aaron Gustafson’s article Beyond DOCTYPE: Web Standards, Forward Compatibility, and IE8, introducing a controversial proposal from Microsoft that developers should start locking their pages into set browser versions.

Although members of the WaSP Microsoft Task Force were very much involved in this proposal, it is important to re-emphasise that this proposal is not one that every member of the Web Standards Project necessarily backs by default. Like many of you, many of us will (and do) have our own concerns about this and what it could mean for the web if enacted.

However, that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it out of hand. A great deal of thought and research by people who know what web standards development means has gone into this. As a proposal, this should be greeted with the feedback and input it deserves. If Microsoft believe they have a solution which carries merit, then let’s look at that closely as a community of designers, developers and browser vendors, all together. This sort of discussion cannot happen in isolation.

So go ahead, read the article and the accompanying opinion piece by Eric Meyer, consider what that proposal may mean to you and join in with the discussion.

]]> 88
Opting-in to standards support Tue, 22 Jan 2008 14:21:26 +0000 agustafson A List Apart, I was (finally) able to reveal Microsoft's new strategy for forward-compatibility, a strategy that was developed hand-in-hand with several of us here at WaSP.]]> When IE7 came out, sites broke. Folks throughout the web community posited many reasons why, but none mentioned the fact that all standards-enabled rendering engines are triggered by an assumption we affectionately call the “DOCTYPE switch.” I’ll truck out a dusty old cliché here: “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

So what does that have to do with the DOCTYPE switch? Well, the DOCTYPE switch assumes that if you are using a valid DOCTYPE for a “modern” language (e.g. HTML 4), you know what you’re doing and want the browser to render in standards mode.

That assumption could have worked out all right, had it not been for authoring tool makers who—with the best intentions and under pressure from us (the web standards community and WaSP, in particular)—decided to include valid DOCTYPEs in new documents by default, thereby crippling the DOCTYPE switch because it wasn’t an explicit opt-in. Now add to that the fact that IE6 had the lion’s share of the browser market for so long—thereby becoming the primary browser in which many developers tested their work—and you have a recipe for disaster: developers assumed (there’s that word again) the layout they were getting in IE6 was accurate, not realizing they had been opted-in to accept rendering engine upgrades as the browser evolved (all of which was reinforced by the 5 years of stasis in terms of IE6′s rendering).

So along comes IE7 with it’s tuned-up rendering engine and, well, it caused sites to broke.

Not wanting to see that happen again, Microsoft approached us (WaSP) to help them find a better way of enabling standards support through an explicit opt-in. You can read more about the thought process we went through in my article on A List Apart. The issue also features a commentary piece by WaSP alum Eric Meyer (who was not involved in the development of the solution, but was asked for feedback on our work) that takes you on the mental journey he took in reaction to our recommendation. The series for ALA—on what we are calling “browser version targeting”—will wrap in two weeks with a piece by Peter Paul Koch—who, like me, was involved in the development of this technique—that will cover application of the browser targeting mechanism in IE8 and beyond.

This buzz has been translated into Polish.

]]> 9
IE8 passes Acid2 test Wed, 19 Dec 2007 20:53:43 +0000 blawson Blimey. Cor luvvaduck and no mistake. Just after the announcement that Opera are complaining to the European Union about Internet Explorer’s dodgy standards support, Chris Wilson reports that an internal build of Internet Explorer 8 passes the Acid2 test.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that IE8 has fixed all its float oddities, or its hasLayout hilarities. But what it does mean is that there is another browser war, and Microsoft did decide to come.

Added 20 December 2007: Markus Mielke of the Internet Explorer team confirms “HasLayout will be history with IE8“. Exciting times…

(This post translated into Polish.)

]]> 50
Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in Thu, 13 Dec 2007 20:34:30 +0000 blawson Opera Chief Technology Officer and co-inventor of CSS, Håkon Wium Lie has written an open letter to the Web community explaining the reasons that Opera has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union to force Microsoft to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer and to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.

Their press release says

Opera requests the Commission to implement two remedies to Microsoft’s abusive actions. First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. The complaint calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious “Embrace, Extend and Extinguish” strategy. Microsoft’s unilateral control over standards in some markets creates a de facto standard that is more costly to support, harder to maintain, and technologically inferior and that can even expose users to security risks.

]]> 43