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Microsoft to act on IE8 'show stoppers'

Standards committed - to a point

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Microsoft's still taking feedback on Internet Explorer 8 but will only act on "show stoppers" according to browser chief Dean Hachamovitch.

Hachamovitch, IE general manager, told Microsoft's Channel 9 "we are still listening for feedback, we are listening very critically for classically what's called show-stopper feedback".

Microsoft's general manager was speaking as the company issued the IE 8 release candidate, which marks the end of the beta test cycle and is intended to give people a final opportunity to test what is intended as the final product.

"We are saying the product behaves the way you should expect the final product behaves," Hachamovitch said of the RC.

He urged developers, consumers, IT managers, and "enterprise guys" to "start your engines, go in and try it out."

IE 8 is Microsoft's first stab at a standards-compliant version of its browser. The RC complies with version 2.1 of the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). That W3C specification, though, has yet to be ratified so is still a work in progress.

If the final specification deviates from the version Microsoft has implemented, that'll mean Microsoft will need to re-implement, test and certify if it wants IE 8 to remain standards compliant.

Historically, vendors have tended to implement standards bodies' work before ratification because the pace of work is too slow for product development. It's been up to the companies to then become compliant or continue with their own implementation once the standard or specification is passed.

Hachamovitch indicated compliance with CSS 2.1 through the test suite had been important - not a "black or white, it's a true or false." He also flagged work Microsoft has done in contributing to the CSS 2.1 suite.

He noted, though, the specification and test suite remain works in progress and didn't say what Microsoft would do if things do change. Based on the Channel 9 interview, it seems Microsoft might focus on the browsing "experience" rather than compliance with each and every part of the final test suite.

"The interesting thing will be when the committee actually passes it [CSS 2.1]... because the patient is still open in some ways, they can still edit the test suite. The test suite and spec are a moment in time right now."

Hachamovitch, instead, issued a call to action that involves people testings sites and services to ensure IE 8 works in the world they surf. ®

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