Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

IE8 Will Default to Standards Mode

From Dean H. over on the IE Blog:

One issue we heard repeatedly during the IE7 beta concerned sites that looked fine in IE6 but looked bad in IE7. The reason was that the sites had worked around IE6 issues with content that – when viewed with IE7’s improved Standards mode – looked bad.

As we started work on IE8, we thought that the same thing would happen in the short term: when a site hands IE8 content and asks for Standards mode, that content would expect IE7’s Standards mode and not appear or function correctly. 

In other words, the technical challenge here is how can IE determine whether a site’s content expects IE8’s Standards mode or IE7’s Standards mode? Given how many sites offer IE very different content today, which should IE8 default to?

Our initial thinking for IE8 involved showing pages requesting “Standards” mode in an IE7’s “Standards” mode, and requiring developers to ask for IE8’s actual “Standards” mode separately. We made this decision, informed by discussions with some leading web experts, with compatibility at the top of mind.

In light of the Interoperability Principles, as well as feedback from the community, we’re choosing differently. Now, IE8 will show pages requesting “Standards” mode in IE8’s Standards mode. Developers who want their pages shown using IE8’s “IE7 Standards mode” will need to request that explicitly (using the http header/meta tag approach described here).

There is also a press release here. This is great news for the web standards community... but not-so-great news for the billions of web pages out there. You guys have fair warning now... better update your DOCTYPE if you want to show users a consistent experience.

Reaction? QuirksBlog says: "Isn't that something? The IE team is listening."

Speaking of web sites and compatibility, a friend of mine discovered that Verizon Wireless' "My Account" site has been inaccessible from Firefox for over a week. So far, Verizon won't even publicly acknowledge the issue, or inform their users on the login page. They just make their users think that they are stupid by erroring out on login. I wonder how long it will take to fix it...

Posted on Mar 03 2008, 02:15 PM by Robert McLaws
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  • There is an interesting post over at

    March 3, 2008 4:29 PM
  • Markus said:

    As far as I undersand the issue, it's not the DOCTYPE to change but to send the new X-UA-Compatible header targeting a specific browser version/engine.

    March 3, 2008 4:32 PM
  • March 3, 2008 5:14 PM
  • Rowan said:

    "You guys have fair warning now... better update your DOCTYPE if you want to show users a consistent experience."


    You mean META?

    March 4, 2008 1:46 AM
  • M$ said:

    Wow M$ is all about standards and open source now!!! Do they want a cookie?

    March 4, 2008 1:36 PM
  • The world would have to deal with IE 6 for a far shorter period of time if MS would change the way Windows Update offers IE 7 and make it critical on all Windows XP systems, and make it auto install without prompting the user for anything.

    I know of far to many machines that are constantly prompting the user to install IE 7 from Windows Update and the User clicks cancel because they don't understand and they've been trained to click cancel when they encounter something that they don't understand for fear of it being spyware.

    Make it automatic, and force it on Windows Update to download for all people that dont' already have it, and volia, 90% of IE 6 users that still exist go away immediately.

    So long as IE 8 does the same and supports Windows XP too the same way, We won't have to deal with IE 7 AT ALL within 6 months of IE 8 being released except for in banks that haven't figured out that having staff using IE 6 is a really bad bad bad idea and I can live without supporting people in banks.

    End result, we get full ACID 2 compatibility sooner rather than later. Windows 2000 is a dead duck and people are bailing from it entirely, and people using IE 6 on Windows 2000 still? We'll they're having major problems with their internet anyhow because they're just begging to be hacked, so they almost all use Firefox so this isn't an issue and you're not going to get much of a UX for Windows 2000 + IE 6 anyhow because they likely have half their window full of toolbars.

    There is absolutely NO reason why ANY Windows XP machine should be running anything less than IE 7 other than people cancel it. If you get rid of those users that are XP + IE 6, we're talking a tiny browser share for IE 6 so we can stop testing/targeting it, and IE 7 will disappear even faster if you force upgrade to IE 8 and don't make them click through a wizard.

    So MS: Please please please fix the auto-upgrade process to make the install silent and let's all move on to better, more secure, standards supporting days.

    March 17, 2008 8:45 AM