On Version Targeting in IE8

The web community is abuzz this week with news of Microsoft’s proposed plan to implement a special version-targeting meta tag in future versions of its Internet Explorer browser. You can read all about it in the latest issue of A List Apart and you can read plenty on both sides of the coin everywhere from Adactio to Zeldman.

The short version of my opinion is that I dislike almost everything about the proposal, but that it’s probably the only way out of the grave that Internet Explorer has dug for the majority of web users and developers. There’s a longer version which I and many others have sprinkled all over the web in articles and comments, but I’ll focus on one thing that bothers me that most people aren’t talking about: the way it all came to be.

The Internet Explorer team, along with a handful of web standards advocates to lend credibility to the final outcome, got together behind closed doors and ruminated for a little while on the issue and then came forth with what many are calling a standard. That’s it. A small group of people decided that all developers must now include a new line of code in every web page that they build or the still-market-dominating Internet Explorer browser will render it wrong (by intention) hence forth forever. Without consulting a standards body or the throngs of affected developers, they essentially declared a web standard. That just doesn’t sit well with me, and I don’t know how it sits so well with some folks who have been fighting tooth and nail to advance real web standards for nearly a decade.