IE8 opt-in: reaction from other browser makers

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Pre­dictably, yes­ter­day’s announce­ment from Microsoft about the new stan­dards opt-in switch has cre­at­ed quite a stir in the web devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty. As I not­ed yes­ter­day, the reac­tion from the oth­er brows­er mak­ers would be quite impor­tant — and it looks as if they’re not interested.

The only ‘offi­cial’ reac­tion came from the WebKit blog, Surfin’ Safari, who said:

We don’t see a great need to imple­ment ver­sion tar­get­ing in Safari. We think main­tain­ing mul­ti­ple ver­sions of the engine would have many down­sides for us and lit­tle upside. 

While Mozil­la have made no com­ment that I can find, some of their devel­op­ers have made their feel­ings clear; John Resig says:

Wan­na know how I can tell that no oth­er brows­er ven­dor par­tic­i­pat­ed in the cre­ation of the new meta X‑UA-Com­pat­i­ble tag? Because it’s com­plete­ly worth­less — and in fact harm­ful — for any brows­er to implement! 

John Resig adds:

I see no rea­son to expect that any­one else will imple­ment this meta tag. Why would any­one both­er? It isn’t part of any spec and it doesn’t help any­one but the IE team. The way it helps them is by allow­ing them to force com­pli­ance with old­er ver­sions of their product. 

Opera also have offered no reac­tion that I’m aware of, although Anne van Kesteren is also not in favour:

If any­thing, we want less dif­fer­ences between quirks and stan­dards mode. They are already caus­ing a lot of trou­ble. That Eric Mey­er, who once worked for Netscape, sug­gests that this would give us more time to do cool stuff is sim­ply wrong. Quirks mode is cost­ing us time that we could have oth­er­wise spent on imple­ment­ing cool fea­tures. Cer­tain­ly not the oth­er way around. 

The reac­tion else­where on the web has been, on bal­ance, more neg­a­tive than pos­i­tive — although cer­tain­ly not over­whelm­ing­ly so. But it’s real­ly the oth­er brows­er mak­ers who count here, as with­out their sup­port this is just a new­er ver­sion of con­di­tion­al com­ment­ing, just anoth­er way to make IE dif­fer­ent from the oth­er browsers.

I think we’ll prob­a­bly just have to wait and see how this works; will there, for exam­ple, be a way to always iden­ti­fy the brows­er as IE8, even on pages which don’t have the switch? Per­haps MS could release an alpha ver­sion of the new brows­er so we could see for our­selves how this will work in practice.

2 comments on
“IE8 opt-in: reaction from other browser makers”

  1. It’s tak­en a while for me to come to a deci­sion on this. Ini­tial­ly, I was com­plete­ly against it. Then when you start read­ing that the likes of Eric Mey­er and Jef­frey Zeld­man think that it could work, I start­ed com­ing round to the idea, after all these peo­ple who have helped web stan­dards to the stage they’re at sure­ly can’t be wrong?

    How­ev­er, after a lot of thought I’ve decid­ed that I’m against the idea and you can read more about my thoughts on this here…

    But to sum­ma­rize though, this change should­n’t real­ly effect our day to day jobs in the slight­est. My main con­cern is for those peo­ple that don’t under­stand web­sites and who will be able to con­tin­ue cre­at­ing poor code that IE7 ren­ders cor­rect­ly even when IE9 and 10 are avail­able because they’re either unaware or don’t care about the meta tag. Isn’t this counter pro­duc­tive to what web stan­dards is about?

    I’ve read it sug­gest­ed else­where that the best thing to do when IE8 is released is to leave the meta tag out and ren­der your web­site in IE8 as it would in IE7. We’ll need to con­tin­ue sup­port­ing IE7 any­way until all users have upgrad­ed so why not just deal with one ren­der­ing engine where the bugs are already known instead of hav­ing to deal with two IE’s.

  2. My own hope is that the ren­der­ing engine of IE8 is so stan­dards-com­pli­ant that we don’t need to add any cor­rec­tive styles to make up for it; that the only work we need to do is add the new META tag to our pages, and it will work per­fect­ly across FF, Safari, IE & Opera.