Feeds

'IE8 compatible' - the cure for web standards headache?

A problem shared is ... a problem shared

High performance access to file storage

MIX07 It took Microsoft six years to move Internet Explorer versions from 6 to 7. IE8 should be along a little quicker - it is slated for release within two years, less than three years after IE7's October 2006 debut.

But Microsoft has a big, big task on its hands: how to improve support for web standards in IE, without breaking millions of websites. Full standards compliance and backward compatibility do not go hand-in-hand for this web browser, alas.

So, Microsoft is preparing to invite community feedback via a blog on how best to square this circle.

Chris Wilson, IE group program manager, today told MIX07 that Microsoft may "need authors to opt into standards", suggesting a "compatible with IE 8.0" scheme.

In an interview with The Register, Wilson said he didn't want to take such a heavy-handed approach, but Microsoft doesn't want to break websites either. He said Microsoft couldn't make the necessary changes to IE through the standards process.

With the clock ticking on IE 8.0 and a long list of fixes, and new and updated features already in the product pipeline, Microsoft seems desperate to avoid a repeat of the engineering and PR nightmare that was standards compatibility in IE 7.0.

Some IE 8.0 features stem from problems that Microsoft encountered in IE 7.0. These were considered too big to tackle and attributable to Microsoft's use of its own technologies rather than industry standards.

According to Wilson, Microsoft has "lots more to do" in CSS - with bugs persisting in floating point elements and hasLayout - scripting and COM, and events and APIs not matching the DOM specification.

A key problem, though, is Microsoft's core layout engine, Trident, introduced 10 years ago. This has been updated but remains less compliant with official standards than competing browsers. Prior to shipment of IE 7.0, Microsoft admitted its new browser would fail the Web Standards Project's ACID2 browser compatibility test.

"It's challenging for us to support standards," Wilson said. The "core of Trident is great code".

While consulting the community on IE 8.0 should be commended, one goal could be to outsource responsibility on which standards Microsoft should support and for any resulting site breakages.

"By asking authors to say 'I want standards behaviors' means we don't have to worry about standards compatibility. That means we can break our compatibility with layout and CSS. We can change DOM APIs without breaking any current pages," Wilson said. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.