With Beta 1 targeted for first half 2008, the folks at Microsoft are now saying that as of last week, IE8 reached a core milestone: IE8 in standards mode now correctly renders the “Acid2 Browser Test”. Acid2 is a test that determines how well a browser works with several different web standards. I posted about this earlier, mentioning that not even the current edition of Firefox handles the acid2 test correctly. Of course I was quickly reminded by commenters that it did a much better job than IE7, and that's true.
But the best news (besides the obvious fact that Microsoft embraces and sees the need for standards) is that they are going to do it in a way that doesn't "break" existing pages written for IE5 or IE6, or for the standards mode of other browser brands:
Modern browsers typically have two modes to render web pages, “quirks” and “standards.” MS says their experience with releasing IE7 taught them that many web sites today expect the browser to have IE6-compatible behavior. They say that with IE8 they have a "deep obligation" to interoperability and compatibility with existing web sites, and this has led them to add an additional mode to enable supporting industry standards even better.
So, developers can now write sites based on standards, insert a flag that tells IE to render in IE8 standards mode, and IE will then switch its rendering engine to use this new mode. This allows pre-existing sites to continue to work, and developers can opt-in to the new rendering engine on their own schedule. (Of course I should hasten to add that if all the players were with standards from the git-go, there wouldn't be a need for any of this BS).
For compatibility purposes IE8’s rendering engine defaults to “quirks” or “standards” mode. Site developers will need to insert a new opt-in flag to request the page to render using “IE8 standards mode.”
Overall, I'd say that this is pretty good news. I might even sign up for the beta. Now I just have one question:
When I visit a site that has embedded Flash or other video, is IE 8.0 still going to grey-screen on me and go straight down the potty, forcing me to use Firefox, or are you guys planning on fixing it?