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Microsoft's IE8 app dev survival guide

Minimal breakage

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Add-on-Con Will Internet Explorer 8 break your existing IE add-ons and IE-dependent desktop applications? It may. But those breaks are easily mended, says Matt Crowley, Microsoft program manager for IE "extensibility."

"We've made a few changes to the binary extensibility model, but not too many," Crowley told developers this afternoon at a Mountain View mini-conference dubbed Add-On-Con. "Most applications will work just fine, but there are cases where they won't."

With IE 8, Microsoft has separated frames from tabs. This means that extensions that rely on modal windows or windows that sync with the frame of the actual IE window, for instance, may need coding changes. "You modal windows will still work, probably," Crowley said. "They just won't work exactly like you want them to."

Crowley also says that developers should consider Redmond's tweaks to IE's Protected Mode APIs and its Upgrade Advisor - which have been known to cause problems with existing add-ons and apps. And, he adds, you should mull IE's new ActiveX model. IE 8 offers "per user" ActiveX control installations, which let you control individual user accounts rather the entire system, and "per site" installations, which let you run ActiveX on a single webpage and not others.

To avoid too much breakage, IE8's Web Browser Control renders in IE7 mode by default.

Bootnote

Why are so many people still using the security-challenged IE6? Crowley gives you the answer you already have. "Many people who use IE are not the most tech-savvy people. If you ask them about what security they have in place, they think you're talking about your house. It's more ignorance than anything else."

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