IE8: Web Standards

Finally, Microsoft is getting on the ball and improving Internet Explorer; a browser that lied dormant for so many years is finally receiving regular signs of improvement. Of course, because Internet Explorer did not improve standards-wise for so many years, it remains far behind other browsers, such as Opera (external link) and Firefox. However, Microsoft has recently announced the development of Internet Explorer 8 and they have released a beta version of the browser. IE8 shows a number of CSS improvements, although it still is lagging behind Opera and Firefox.

There was a big hoopla over a browser version targeting system that Microsoft proposed for future IE versions. Basically, developers would have to put a special meta tag into their pages for IE to load their pages using the most up-to-date standards mode. However, this idea was ditched, so that by default all pages viewed in future IE versions will be rendered using the latest standards-compliant rendering engine available for IE.

IE8, though, will be mainly fixing numerous CSS errors (external link):

  • Data URI support
  • Fixes for floats
  • Margin collapsing
  • CSS outlines
  • Generated content (:before and :after)
  • Support for the :focus pseudo-class
  • Printing properties
  • CSS table layouts

All of these improvements sound fantastic, and they are, but IE still has a really long way to progress before I even consider it a remotely standards-compliant browser. Really, the slow introduction of standards compliance in Internet Explorer is merely introducing another half-arsed IE version that developers are going to have to support for years to come. The best solution (if Microsoft cared about web developers) would be to fix all the issues in one release, at least to bring it on par with Opera and Firefox. Instead, we are going to have probably five separate versions to support with varying levels of standards compliance. Honestly, why can they not just use Gecko for IE's rendering engine? It would save them work and money, and be great for developers too.


  • I've installed IE8 on my computer (Wasnt aware that you couldnt uninstall it, oopps razz).

    Its not a bad browser really. Its got the emulate IE7 button for shitty sites that can't do standard complient websites, but the standard complient mode is fairly good. Still far from perfect, but in some areas its better at standards than Opera is (Other areas, worce).

    One thing I love is the developers tools. My god are they good. JavaScript bebuggers with break points and variable watch lists.

    Still far from perfect, but as a pre-alpha its a really good effort at a brand new browser. However, even if IE8 is amazing developers are still going to have to carry IE6 and IE7 for a few years to come.

    Posted by Matt Oakes (external link) on Tue 25 Mar 2008 at 18:45