Last Friday I groused about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) and the suggestion of compatibility problems. Today I received a proposal from an author who wanted to write an article about that exact topic.
Granted, to sell his idea, he needs to focus on the negative side of this controversy, but still some of his assertions are cause for even greater alarm. He stated in his pitch that “Microsoft completely overhauled the code in its browser with its March 19, 2009 release, a move that will distort the appearance of many Web sites designed for earlier versions of Internet Explorer.”
He then quotes Nick MacKechnie, a senior technical account manager for Microsoft, who said that the new browser “may cause content written for previous versions of Internet Explorer to display differently than intended.” (This statement is verified from Microsoft’s website and Nick’s blog.)
If I understand this fiasco correctly, it seems that prior versions of Internet Explorer were not completely compliant with published standards, but were in line with standard practices. IE 8 seeks to reverse that, becoming more compliant with the formal standards, at the expense of sites that follow accepted practices.
If being compliant to standards means that millions of websites will stop working, doesn’t that suggest that maybe the standards need to be changed to better reflect the reality of how things are actually done in the real world?
In the mean time, every website is caught in the middle of this conundrum.