A week after Opera Software filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft that focused, in part, on Microsoft's falure to make Internet Explorer (IE) standards-compliant, Microsoft has gone on record stating IE 8 will include support for key Web standards.
Microsoft verified last week that an internal test build of IE 8 passed the Acid2 Browser Test, according to Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager of IE Development. Hachamovitch noted the milestone in a blog post to the IE Team blog on December 19. Microsoft also posted a video to its Channel 9 Web site explaining the finer points for developers interested in the Acid2 details.
Acid2 is a test page, maintained by the independent Web Standards Project group, that was written to help browser vendors ensure support for Web standards in their products.
"I'm delighted to tell you that on Wednesday, December 12, Internet Explorer correctly rendered the Acid2 page in IE8 standards mode," Hachamovitch blogged. "While supporting the features tested in Acid2 is important for many reasons, it is just one of several milestones for the interoperability, standards compliance, and backwards compatibility that we're committed to for this release."
In a phone interview on December 19, Hachamovitch also said that Microsoft will release a public beta build of IE 8 some time in the first half of 2008.
Hachamovitch denied that Microsoft's decision to disclose this week IE 8's planned standards compliance was related to Opera's antitrust suit launched last week. Hachamovitch said Microsoft has been working on making IE 8 Acid2-compliant since IE 8 planning began.
(Note: I have asked Opera to comment on how Microsoft's news on IE 8 and Acid2 will affect their antitrust complaint filed with the European Commission.
Stay tuned for more. Here is the Opera response.)
The beta timing and Acid2 compliance were the only two news nuggets that Hachamovitch was willing to discuss with me around IE 8. I asked him when Microsoft is planning to ship the final IE 8 release; what other features IE 8 will include; whether IE 8 will work with XP or be Vista only; whether Microsoft plans to make non-public test builds of IE 8 available to select testers outside of Microsoft in early 2008; and whether Silverlight, Microsoft's Flash-like player that is currently a browser add-on will be bundled with the final IE 8 release. Hachamovitch declined to comment on any of these things.
In the IE Blog posting, Hachamovitch said: "We'll cover more details of the non-developer oriented work (e.g. user experience, reliability, security, etc.) in other posts in the future, after MIX."
In the IE blog posting, Hachamovitch reiterated the Windows client chief Steven Sinofsky's line that Microsoft is dialing back on transparency for the good of the customer:
"For IE8, we want to communicate facts, not aspirations. We're posting this information now because we have real working code checked in and we're confident about delivering it in the final product. We're listening to the feedback about IE, and at the same time, we are committed to responsible disclosure and setting expectations properly. Now that we've run the test on multiple machines and seen it work, we're excited to be able to share definitive information."
Microsoft's IE team has been baraged by critics who have been unhappy with Microsoft's failure to provide IE 8 timing and feature guidance. The team also has been roundly chastized for years -- and not just by Opera -- for its slowness in making IE compliant with the latest iterations of common Web standards, such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), DHTML an document object model (DOM).
Web developers: What do you think about the IE 8 team's latest disclosures? What else do you want/need to hear sooner rather than later about Microsoft's future browser plans?