With all the brou-ha-ha around Internet Explorer 8, I thought I’d add a couple of words to the debate.
Read James Bennet’s excellent summary (thanks for the link, Daring Fireball) for all the gory details. In short, IE8 makes a bit of a mess all over the web because it requires a metadata flag to tell it to render documents according to proper web standards.
That is, documents that have been written for IE6 and below that use the wrong box model will still look okay, and new sites that are developed correctly according to the standards require a special flag to render equivalently in Safari, Firefox and IE8. But without the flag, Safari and Firefox will still render them fine, only IE8 will do things wrong.
So, who wants a special “Microsoft fucked up” flag on every single page developed from now to eternity? Well, things look like that won’t be the case if IE8 renders HTML5 according to the standards no matter what. In which case this is all a storm in a teacup and the problem will disappear in the next couple of years as HTML5 becomes dominant. (Poor old XHTML.)
But if that’s not the case (that backwards compatibility precludes this standards-HTML5 mode) then Microsoft should just make a clean break and create a new web browser from scratch. I’m serious! Call it “MS Browser” or whatever and use all the code from IE8 that’s actual correct as far as standards are concerned. Then people that require IE can continue using that, which will be frozen forever. But home users can start afresh with a browser that can and will continue to support standards and doesn’t have to deal with backwards incompatibility kludges.
That’s a much cleaner solution, in my eyes, and moves Microsoft away from the perhaps tainted “IE” name. But it’ll never happen. Because no-one listens to me…