Internet Explorer 8

Yesterday Internet Explorer 8 is released. I consider that a good things as it will move more people farther away from the severe case of release abuse called IE6. Improvements include integrated developer tools for css analysis and script profiling and debugging.

And there is ‘Compatibility View’. Developers can specify, by adding a specific meta tag, that IE7 rendering should be used. There seem to be some tricky aspects related to Compatibility View:

  • It’s not 100% compatible with the ‘real’ IE7
  • For intranets IE8 will behave differently, using smart defaults based on zone evaluation. That by itself sounds alarming. What it means is that Microsoft (and sadly they’re right) assumes that a lot of intranets, also called line of business applications, will malfunction when confronted with a new browser.

The latter will be something to take into account when developing and testing intranets. Another concern I heard about (and share) is that if a lot of developers will start using Compatibility View, a lot of bad practices will stick around and development for IE as a whole will ‘freeze’. Instead of move forward to a more standards compliant level.

As IE6 isn’t dead yet there are now three IE versions to test for. Microsoft offers free downloadable virtual machines with IEx installed as a solution. Virtualization is ‘hot’ but some might find Microsoft’s solution a bit of a hassle. IETester looks like a nice alternative (haven’t tried it yet) altough it seems to require Vista.