Internet Explorer 8: breaking Windows?

February 19, 2009

zdnet.com reports that ‘In an effort to improve Web users’ compatibility experience, Microsoft added a new, user-selectable Compatibility List to the Release Candidate test version of IE 8 that the company released in January… Microsoft describes the list — Version 1.0 of which includes 2,400 sites that don’t render properly in IE 8 (in other words, an “incompatibility list”) – as a tool designed to “make sure IE8 customers have a great experience with highly trafficked sites that have not yet fully accomodated IE8′s better implementation of web standards.”‘

(read more from the horse’s business end at http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2009/02/16/just-the-facts-recap-of-compatibility-view.aspx)

I think this is interesting. On the one hand Microsoft has finally (finally!) decided to bite the bullet and fix some of the bugs in IE that cause web developers so much pain. In my experience, supporting IE’s buggy CSS takes about as much effort as developing the CSS for Firefox in the first place.

Microsoft has always used the excuse before that users would view sites that rendered badly in a new standards-compliant IE and blame IE for the problems. This is an understandable, if self-serving excuse. Perhaps with IE’s market share below 70%, they feel that they can no longer get away with it on the basis of user base alone.

On the other hand, the list has some very interesting entries, apart from nearly every chinese website in existence:

  • amazon.com
  • blogger.com
  • ebay.com
  • facebook.com
  • google.com
  • live.com
  • microsoft.com
  • msn.com
  • myspace.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • yahoo.com
  • youtube.com

I can’t think of a high-profile site that’s not on the list. I think Microsoft has asked a million monkeys to beta-test IE8 and they’re hitting the error report button randomly.

Otherwise, I can only assume that IE8 doesn’t support any websites at all. Perhaps this is the EU-competition-commission version of IE8 that they were testing?

(thanks to PC The Great at lugm.org for the heads-up)

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