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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

IE Struggles to Be Compatible

There's a new browser war brewing, and it's not between Microsoft and
Mozilla. Internet Explorer is in a state of conflict with itself and
Web standards. The conflict will expand next month, when Microsoft
sends enterprises an Internet Explorer 7 Valentine. On February 12, IE
7 will dispatch through WSUS (Windows Server Update Services). The
days of enterprises blocking the browser will end. Desktops running
Windows XP and IE 6 will get the update. Those running Windows Vista
already have it. IE 7 is notorious for breaking applications and some
Web sites, and the reasons for both calamities are somewhat different.
Security architectural changes, mainly around ActiveX controls, are
the compatibility killer for many homegrown applications and for some
Web sites. Microsoft's efforts to make Internet Explorer a
standards-based browser has caused Web site compatibility problems...
In a long blog posted overnight, Chris Wilson, Microsoft's IE platform
architect, comes clean about efforts to achieve some kind of balance
between standards compliance and backwards compatibility. It's an ugly
story that he tells. But they say that confession is good for the soul --
or perhaps software development. To me, the scariest part of Wilson's
story is what's not yet written: IE 8. Microsoft's solution : Put more
onus on Web developers, which must insert a tag for rightly rendering
the content in the most standards way. IE 8 will keep the same quirks
and standards modes as IE 7. What he's really say is this: IE 7 broke
the Web once, and Microsoft doesn't want IE 8 to do the same. So for
the mess of DOCTYPE rendering modes everywhere, IE 8 will hold to the
IE 7 status quo. But to get the benefits of the new IE 8 rendering
engine, Web developers will have to tag their sites to support the new
browser. I wouldn't exactly call that a formula for mass adoption.

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