Microsoft IE and Standards Compliance

There is an indirect update to my December 16, 2007 “Web browser standards: Opera Software vs Microsoft” post in the “Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A MilestoneIEBlog post. The way I see it, Microsoft effectively confirms allegations about not complying with standards (by, at least, not seriously updating IE6 in over 5 years and creating lots of problems with IE7) promising it will do so with IE8:

“… IE8 now renders the “Acid2 Face” correctly in IE8 standards mode. …”

“… With respect to standards and interoperability, our goal in developing Internet Explorer 8 is to support the right set of standards with excellent implementations and do so without breaking the existing web. This second goal refers to the lessons we learned during IE 7. IE7’s CSS improvements made IE more compliant with some standards and less compatible with some sites on the web as they were coded. Many sites and developers have done special work to work well with IE6, mostly as a result of the evolution of the web and standards since 2001 and the level of support in the various versions of IE that pre-date many standards. We have a responsibility to respect the work that sites have already done to work with IE. We must deliver improved standards support and backwards compatibility so that IE8 (1) continues to work with the billions of pages on the web today that already work in IE6 and IE7 and (2) makes the development of the next billion pages, in an interoperable way, much easier. …”

If you wonder who made the “existing web” prone to “breaking”, I don’t. In my mind, it was Microsoft. When IE was dominant, it never completely adhered to standards, while extending HTML in all sorts of ways. When standards emerged or caught up, was IE updated accordingly? No.

Is Microsoft finally entering a standards compliance era? How, by adding a “Standards mode” in IE8? I still have my doubts and for good reason. You see, past experience says otherwise.

Web developers, Microsoft hasn’t and won’t ever do it for you. If you are interested in every computer owner being able to fully utilize your sites, please do us all a favor and comply to universal, not Microsoft standards. Windows percentage in the PC market is still very large but dropping. Make them build a decent browser; or not, who cares? Firefox, Opera etc. are excellent, compliant and multiplatform browsers. Don’t build the Internet depended on ActiveX and anything else non-standard enough so only IE (therefore only Windows) users can view.

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