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[Ars] Dear Computerworld, there's a reason why IE8 breaks the web

post #1 of 14
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Computerworld's Gregg Keizer recently reported that IE8 beta 1 users were experiencing problems loading various websites, including Microsoft sites such as Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Update. The article seems to largely lay the blame on the fact that this is a beta, but that isn't the whole story here. The "why?" question is worth exploring a bit more thoroughly.

IE8 is aimed primarily at developers. This is why Microsoft announced that IE8 would be available to the public, in addition to its selected beta testers. IE8 has a mode that passes the Acid2 test and, in response to general public outcry, Microsoft scrapped its previous statement and decided to make this mode the default, leading web developers everywhere to rejoice. However, this move will mean a huge amount of short term problems in exchange for an improvement in the state of the Internet in the long term. One day, IE8 will be more popular than IE7 and IE6 and, at that point, many websites will have a lot less to worry about thanks to IE8's significantly improved (although obviously not perfect—Acid3 anyone?), standards compliance.

Users who have installed IE8 beta 1 have undoubtedly realized that clicking the "Emulate IE7" button allows them to use IE8 without any problems, as the Computerworld article notes. If they do not, many websites just flat out break. Why is this? Many websites have been coded based on the knowledge that IE6 and IE7 do not follow many of the web standards tested in Acid2. The HTML that works nicely in IE7 breaks down in a browser that tries to follow standards, such as IE8. To avoid this, web developers can make sure that IE8 renders the website in the IE7 mode by adding the following code to their pages:

&ltmeta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7" />

This allows IE8 users to browse the website without having to click on the "Emulate IE7" button. The reason many developers have not done this yet is simple: IE8 beta 1 has been out for less than a week, and there really is no rush to start supporting a beta. Most developers will likely add this piece of code over the next few weeks, especially if they are supporting tech sites. Chances are that they will also wait until the last beta before changing any additional code to make their site truly IE8 compatible. IE8 is bound to change over the next few beta releases, so there is simply no reason to start changing code to start supporting it right now. Microsoft is also doing its part in making its websites work with IE8, but those who expected that everything would be done by IE8 beta 1 were really kidding themselves (especially when taking into considering that the software giant was never planning to make the standards compliant mode the default one).

Complaints about websites not rendering correctly in IE8 will be heard loudly over the next few months, including long after the final build of IE8 is released—even when Microsoft finally decides to push IE8 through Windows Update, there will still be countless that will have not gotten around to changing their code. Expect many to jump on the IE8-bashing bandwagon, but, although this "ongoing problem" is Microsoft's fault, it was done on purpose and with good intentions.
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The Kandalf
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post #2 of 14
FF 3 ftw
post #3 of 14
FF3 is brill... apart from the lacking Home button.
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post #4 of 14
Microsoft has been making good moves for the past month or so. Making IE8 default to standards mode is fantastic, and for the time being it seems that they may actually have meant what they said in the interoperability announcement. All it took was a few billion dollars worth of fines from the EU
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post #5 of 14
ie+opera ftw. booo fire fox.
    
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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by zacbrain View Post
ie+opera ftw. booo fire fox.
Heresy Fire Fox PWNS!!!!
    
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post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs90 View Post
Heresy Fire Fox PWNS!!!!
Amen to that ma brother!


Firefox>Opera>Britney Spears>Dirt>Manure>Sewage>IE 8

yeah!
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post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs90 View Post
Heresy Fire Fox PWNS!!!!
Yeah, exept for the part where FF2 had this huge memory leak issue...
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post #9 of 14
yeah other than mem leak i love FF over IE... loads lots faster
    
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post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallenFaux View Post
Yeah, exept for the part where FF2 had this huge memory leak issue...
yeah i dont understand how my browser takes up 2.5gb of ram....
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