The Last Word On IE8 and Browser Targeting

The Internet Explorer team has yielded to reason (or maybe a barage of letters and comments from angry web developers) and had a change of heart regarding the default rendering behavior in the next version of their web browser. The first sentence of the latest post on the IEBlog sums it up:

We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can.

Thank you IE dev team! Now I plan to get back to thinking about the web instead of worrying about one piece of software.

More On Version Targeting in IE8

The debate over Internet Explorer 8’s proposed version targeting continues, and issue #253 of A List Apart features two good articles about it–one on either side of the fence. Jeremy Keith’s article (he’s on the “nay” side) suggests that IE8 should launch as a beta with version targeting disabled to see just how much it breaks the web. This is a brilliant suggestion and I can think of no better way to evaluate the need for a version targeting system. In fact, now that it’s been proposed I think it would be foolhardy of Microsoft to approach it any other way.

As a bonus, and in defense of not crippling IE8 by default, Keith’s article offers this line which is solid gold:

If IE8 is going to differentiate itself from its predecessor by having better standards support, then surely we can assess how it will render websites by simply viewing those websites in a standards-compliant browser like, say, Firefox, Safari or Opera.

Nice one, Jeremy.

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.