Microsoft caves: 'Super-standards' mode to become IE 8 default

Microsoft caves: 'Super-standards' mode to become IE 8 default

Summary: After much outcry from developers and users, Microsoft is bowing to pressure and making its new, Acid-2-compliant standards mode the default in Internet Explorer 8.

TOPICS: Browser, Microsoft

After much outcry from developers and users, Microsoft is bowing to pressure and making its new, Acid-2-compliant standards mode the default in Internet Explorer 8.

Microsoft officials are attributing the change in plans to the company wanting to live up to the interoperability pledges that Microsoft made a couple weeks ago. (Come on, guys! There is nothing wrong with saying the real reason you are doing a 180: Two of your core constituencies were really angry.)

In January, Microsoft's IE team outlined its plans to add a "super-standards" mode to IE 8. That mode was set to be one of three supported in the next version of Microsoft's browser. (The other two are "quirks" mode, which will be compatible with current IE pages and applications and a “standards” mode, which will be the same as what’s offered by IE 7 and “compatible with current content.") In super-standards mode, early internal builds of IE 8 passed the Acid2 standards tests, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft originally planned to make the super-standards mode an opt-in choice and the IE 7 "standards" mode the default -- claiming that by doing so, Microsoft would ensure better backwards-compatibility with existing Web sites and applications. But that decision angered those who felt Microsoft was shirking its commitment to make IE more standards-compliant.

Don't forget that Opera Software lodged an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in December for the Microsoft's failure to make IE compliant with key Web standards. Based on Microsoft's March 3 press release, it looks like Opera's (and/or other competitors') complaints helped convince Microsoft to change. Check out the quote from Brad Smith, Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel:

“While we do not believe there are currently any legal requirements that would dictate which rendering mode must be chosen as the default for a given browser, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel."

In the end -- regardless of why Microsoft really is making this change -- the decision to make standards mode the default in IE 8 should make many happy. What it will mean to backwards compatibility should become evident soon, as Microsoft is expected to start its private beta test of IE 8 any day now, with a public beta to follow.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Opera's complaint only "helped convince"?

    I don't know about you, but the threat of another $1 billion dollar fine from the EU would "help convince" me of just about anything.
    • MSFT doesn't pay fines

      And the EU just keeps raising the fine every day.
      glocks out
    • bah

      Payola is part of the business world, when dealing with the mafioso.

      A week's sales every three years is manageable.
      • The princes of darkness

        are gaining in power and uniting against our creator.

        They wield their standards weapon in an attempt to undo all that is fair and bright from The Gardens of Redmond.

        My brothers, let not your faith waiver, for we, brethren of all that is pure and mighty shall prevail, safe in the knowledge that our maker delivers to us "Super standards mode", and from the seas of celestial bliss will come unto us "Mega brilliant fantastical super standards mode."

        Be not weak, for there is room not for such evil amongst us.
        • Not so......

          For those who have cast off "The Skin
          Of The Snake"!

          And how much verbal (or textual, in
          most cases) excrement will be heaped
          upon them for their testimony? We
          shall see..........
          Ole Man
        • And " AMEN bro. ! " (nt)

  • I think MS did the right thing

    I'm sure there are a lot of people inside of MS who unhappy about it, but I think this is a recognition that the Browser Wars are over and that strategic incompatibility on the WWW is now counterproductive.
    John L. Ries
    • It was always counterproductive

      To have such incompatibility on the world wide web... though I am going to be blunt here: I never had a site not work correctly in Firefox unless it was using WMP as a media player or trying to.
      Same thing for IE7 and some Firefox sites like Tom's Hardware that use a weird thing for their media player, and that won't display in IE7.
      • Counterproductive for whom?

        It was never a good thing for the end user, but strategic incompatibility is about the interests of the vendor, not the end user.
        John L. Ries
  • Now we get to hear the ABMers whine...

    ...about how IE8 breaks existing web sites and how they don't make an effort to support backwards compatibility.

    You heard it here first folks.
    • Nice try

      Take a look at the post right above yours. I'm more than happy to give MS credit when they do the right thing, pity they don't do it more often.
      John L. Ries
      • Where did I specifically mention you? (nt)

        • You forget

          I'm one of those horrible ABMers you keep complaining about. I assume you were referring to real posters, instead of to cartoon characters.

          Seriously, I don't think any anti-MS posters will have any problems at all with this decision. I'm under the distinct impression that most of us *want* MS to support applicable standards.
          John L. Ries
          • At last...

            I'm now looking forward to IE8's release. Although we're Linux only here having a working IE (at last!!!!) will make things a lot easier for us.
          • Nope, did not forget.

            When referring to a group it is unreasonable to expect every individual Will always hold the group mentality for everything. Thus it's perfectly reasonable for me to have made the statement I did while expecting exceptions.

            [i]"Seriously, I don't think any anti-MS posters will have any problems at all with this decision."[/i]

            LOL. Then you're naive. The ABMers were complaining about Windows security. Now that Microsoft took steps to correct it (which they appear to have been very successful at) the ABMers are whining that it broke things and that it's too annoying. Microsoft will never win with this kind of mentality.
          • OK, let's have some whining

            <whine>Those horrible ABMers are beating up on poor persecuted innocent Microsoft again. They've even convinced the Big Bad Socialist European Commission to punish Microsoft for trying to do what every other successful company in the world is morally obligated to do, which is to try to drive the competition into extinction and secure 100% market share.</whine>

            Much easier to beat up on straw men than to actually find out what the other side really thinks.
            John L. Ries
          • Is that why you create strawmen?

            [i]"Much easier to beat up on straw men than to actually find out what the other side really thinks."[/i]
          • Point being

            You can complain all you want about how badly MS is treated in this forum and elsewhere, but unless you come to grips with what people are actually saying, instead of attacking cartoon characters, it's just noise, and you are properly termed a troll.

            As demonstrated, it's just as easy to misrepresent and distort the opinions of MS' loyal fans as it is for you to misrepresent the opinions of its critics.

            And by the way:

            $ uname

            I only refuse to use Windows on my personal equipment. I do use it at work.
            John L. Ries
          • @John L. Ries: I know what ABMers are saying.

            That Microsoft can do no right. Here is an example of people demanding Microsoft make super compatibility mode the default. So Microsoft does. And what happens? People start whining about [b]why[/b] Microsoft did it. In the end they'll never be happy. So why are they so consumed with a company and product they're unhappy with?

            [i]"I only refuse to use Windows on my personal equipment. I do use it at work."[/i]

            And? I assume there was a point here?
          • So I did read ye correctly

            He attacks cartoon characters instead of real posters (by no means the only one). This is typical of people who attack groups, which tend to be broader than those who make the attacks will generally admit (I have a friend who's definition of "Liberal" looks a lot like ye's definition of "ABMer").
            John L. Ries