More bad news from Microsoft. Despite the uproar caused when they originally suggested making developers opt in, to get standards compliance mode in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) they've now quietly returned to this unwise strategy. So developers are now back where we were a year ago, before Microsoft backed away from this plan. It seems we're being reprimanded for not making all of our sites compatible with a browser that hasn't been officially released yet. Why didn't I fix my sites for IE8 Beta? Because I'd have had to fix them again for IE8 Beta 2. Why not for Beta 2? Because I'd have had to fix them for IE8 Release Candidate 1. You get the picture. Microsoft has a history of making significant changes right before the official release of their products, so I'll be waiting until I see a finished version before I change anything. Here's a few choice quotes about the progress of Internet Explorer 8. IEBlog : Compatibility View Improvements to come in IE8
With IE8’s Beta 1 release, Microsoft demonstrated its commitment to interoperability by making the most standards-compliant default view for web pages IE’s default.
With IE8’s Beta 2 release, we introduced the Compatibility View button. This button enables savvy end-users to resolve compatibility problems they encounter with sites that rely on legacy IE behavior.
When users install Windows 7 Beta or the next IE8 update, they get a choice about opting-in to a list of sites that should be displayed in Compatibility View. Sites are on this list based on feedback from other IE8 customers: specifically, for what high-volume sites did other users click the Compatibility View button? This list updates automatically, and helps users who aren’t web-savvy have a better experience with web sites that aren’t yet IE8-ready.
I translate this progression of quote like this
- We'll be standards compliant
- We give you the choice of being standards compliant
- We'll choose whether you're standards compliant or not for you
While they suggest that users will get to choose to opt out of this "compatibility list" on installation, how many users will select "review and modify each setting individually" on installation? I'd guess very few. This setting will theoretically also be in the preferences, but I'd be willing to bet few IE users will go looking for it there either. Microsoft says that they're taking this course of action because they became aware that:
"...large groups of people were having a less than great experience because they weren’t aware of the manual steps required to make certain sites work."
They were surprised that a new feature was not being properly used in a Beta product? Did it occur to them that fixing the problems with the Beta product would alleviate this issue? How about educating their users about their new feature? Apparently not. Why spend all this time and money to improve their product, and IE8 is a big improvement, if you're going to force it to replicate the behavior of its flawed predecessor?