Microsoft to add a 'super standards' mode to IE 8

Microsoft to add a 'super standards' mode to IE 8

Summary: Microsoft is planning to add a new, opt-in "super standards" mode to Internet Explorer (IE) 8 -- a move of which some developers are critical.

TOPICS: Browser, Microsoft

Microsoft is planning to add a new, opt-in "super standards" mode to Internet Explorer (IE) 8 -- a move of which some developers are critical.

IE Platform Architect Chris Wilson shared the details of how Microsoft plans to provide the greater standards compatibility, which it has promised for its next browser release via a January 21 posting to the IE Team Blog.

Wilson said Microsoft is planning to offer developers three modes in IE 8: the existing quirks mode, which will be compatible with current IE pages and applications; a "standards" mode, which will be the same as what's offered by IE 7 and "compatible with current content"; and a third, super standards mode that will require the insertion of a <meta> element to guarantee the highest level of standards compatibility.

Wilson added:

"We believe this approach has the best blend of allowing web developers to easily write code to interoperable web standards while not causing compatibility problems with current content. We also think this approach allows developers to opt in to standards behavior on their own schedule and as it makes sense to them, instead of forcing developers into a responsive mode when a new version of IE has different behavior on their current pages."

A number of commenters on the site took issue with the way Microsoft is planning to make IE 8 more standards-compliant. Many said they believed Microsoft should turn the super standards mode on by default (not make it an opt-in choice), as standards compatibility is more important than backward compatibility. Several posters said they believed Microsoft should abolish quirks mode with the IE 8 release.

"I say enough of this bloody nonsense.  Break the bloody web, and maybe, just maybe, we'll finally be able to break free of the morass of the pre-IE7 days," said one poster, "Xepol."

Sami, another commenter, echoing a number of others' sentiments, said super standards mode should be the new default for IE 8: "I'd prefer having the superstandards mode on by default. Let the user switch to quirks mode, if the page is not displayed."

Poster Eric Eggert agreed: "People shouldn’t have to opt in for the best Version of IE. If someone’s expecting IE8 to behave like IE7 he should opt out to IE8s behavior."

Wilson has said repeatedly that Microsoft cannot abandon backward compatibility because there are more than half a billion IE users. He acknowledged in his latest blog post that Microsoft "broke the Web" for many with the introduction of IE 7, and that the company was not going to do that again. Microsoft worked with the Web Standards Project (WaSP) to devise the IE 8 standards plan, Wilson said. (WaSP-Microsoft Task Force member Aaron Gustafson blogged about his take on Microsoft's IE 8 standards plan on January 21.)

The IE Team announced in December that early builds of IE 8 had passed the Acid 2 standards test, but didn't go into details about how the company planned to deliver a more standards-compliant IE 8 build to developers and users. Microsoft has said it plans to release a first beta of IE 8 in the first half of this year. Many are expecting the company to release that beta in late February or early March, around the time of the company's Mix '08 conference.

What do you think of Microsoft's plan to make IE 8 more standards-compliant?

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).

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  • Message has been deleted.

    Jeremy W
    • Yeah, but how do you really feel?

      Dude, get a life. Spending every waking moment of your life hating a company is a wasted life. Get over it.
      • Apparently...

        ... he feels like whining like a schoolgirl left home on a Friday night.
        Hallowed are the Ori
        • Not necessarily a permanent problem

          There is nothing which says that two or three years from now, after standards compliance becomes widespread on the web, Microsoft couldn't make "super standards" mode the default in IE 9, at which point the <meta> element becomes moot. (Whether they will actually <i>do</i> that is of course another question).
      • Ummm...

        "Dude, get a life."

        Aren't you the one who spends hours every day commenting in these forums?
      • Dude, get a life. Spending every waking moment of your life defend MS - NT

        • But if he didn't...

          ...the market share for MS-Windows would drop below 75%, which would cause the entire computer industry to collapse, which means we'd all be out of work.
          John L. Ries
      • Star Trek

        He also watches Star Trek.
      • I still think . . .

        He's getting paid per use of the term 'Bloatfarm', and variations of it . . . ;)
    • To the rescue...

      Hi, Jeremy.

      You said:

      [i]Is there no one who can end this disgust?[/i]

      to which I reply:

      • For some reason, it put in a link back to this post...

        Here's the link I was meaning to put in:
    • Behold, the Anti-Cox!!

      Are you Mikey's evil twin brother?? haha

      In all seriousness though...people have said no - that's why M$ is finally getting around to complying with standards. Seeing 15% of the market go to FireFox made them realize that they better get a move on - for a few years, there was really no active IE development.
      • Naaahhh . . .

        He uses the same term too much. Mike has a MUCH bigger vocabulary, and much more entertaining. . .

      That puts an end to it.
      • Maybe

        If it weren't so crappy on many of the computer I installed it on.
        • So...

          ... in order to keep you guys happy I have to make life more complex for my customers, who are mostly ordinary consumers, and tell them to go install Firefox before they can use my services?

          Sounds like a good way to go out of business to me.

          Using meta tags on the site seems reasonable to me. It gives me control of which mode people use to see my sites.
          • What about...

            Creating a website with VBScript instead of Javascript to make it work only in the IE browser?
            Sounds like a nice idea to me.
          • VBScript

            There's nothing forcing you to use VBScript in a website for IE, anyone who does so is an idiot.
          • No

            The idea is NOT to tell your cumstomers what browser your site works with. The idea is that [b]program using standards instead of MS / IE -only.[/]

            That's what it's about. Code usings standards based code and it doens't matter what browser the customer has.
          • Please list the . . .

            Websites you made, so I can avoid them, since I don't use IE, unless I absolutely have to.