Dave Woods - Freelance Web Design Warwickshire

Get Ready For IE8

It’s nearly time to get ready for the release of IE8 but is your website up to the job and if not, what can you do about it?

There was a lot of discussion earlier in the year regarding how Internet Explorer was going to deal with web standards and initially it was feared that IE8 would by default render using IE7’s engine.

However, after much discussion in the web development world, Microsoft listened to the community and instead opted for the sensible option which will now require you to include the meta tag if you want to use IE7 mode.

Nick MacKechnie last week blogged about Ensuring your website is ready for Internet Explorer 8, whilst there’s a really useful link for web developers on the Microsoft site which explains the problems in more detail and how you can switch IE8 into IE7 mode.

As with any browser release, the key to ensuring that a website will be working when IE8 is released will be to test early and if in any doubt, add the meta tag.

My personal approach will be to test often and well before the beta version for the general public is made available. Internet Explorer 8 should be a huge improvement compared to their previous versions of browsers so if you’ve written your code using web standards and your site currently works in the latest version of Safari, Opera and Firefox then I wouldn’t expect any problems.

However, for anyone out there still relying on quirks mode, you’d better make yourself familiar with the meta tag as I’m sure you’ll need to make use of it over the coming months.

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7">

8 comments on “Get Ready For IE8

  1. Andrew Maxwell

    I was just at Web Visions 08′ here in Portland, Oregon USA and one of the programmers from Microsoft IE talked about IE8, it was a 1 hour lecture of just IE8. I for one am glad that Microsoft is stepping up to the plate with the other browsers. IE8 will support CSS 2.1 Fully, 100% which will making website so much easier now that I would have to make multiple css files or css hacks. Keep us posted Dave when the new browser is available.

  2. Dave Post author

    To be honest, I didn’t find IE7 too bad but the improvements will hopefully put to bed the remaining problems once and for all (particularly haslayout).

    I’ll also be interested to see how IE8 deals with height vs min-height without the meta tag as I can see that causing quite a few problems for non-standards developers who will suddenly see a lot of their content overlapping.

    It’ll be great once we start to see IE6 phasing out and finally move another step closer to a standardised web.

  3. Andrew Maxwell

    I agree, IE7 wasn’t too bad, but it would be nice to make a page once and KNOW it will work on all browsers. Once IE6 is finally dead it will be a GOD SEND for me and most developers.

  4. Robert Greyling

    Dave, I can’t understand how this new browser tage will have any impact at all! Having had a quick look at W3 Schools, I can see that not only does IE7 have a large market share (~25%), but IE6 STILL carries the flag at just under 30% usage.

    Now most of the IE6 users, I grant you, are most likely stuck under the draconian thumb or large corporates that refuse to upgrade the default XP browser with the times, but I ask you – even those that have made the leap to IE7, do you really think IE8 is going to get anywhere close to a significant percentage of users within the first year (2 years?) of its release? If not, then that fancy new piece of meta-data will be lost in the ether – in this sense, IE8’s worst enemy is not Firefox or Opera or even Safari – but rather it’s ancestors! Unless the IE team pull a clever (nasty?) trick like the Safari boys did (in including the brower as part of a “Recommended Important” update along with iTunes), by including it with windows update – then it’s not going to get much mileage – and even then the corprates will still punish themselves by using IE6 until they all upgrade to Vista (which isn’t going very well we’ve seen).

    I’m a designer/developer like you (and most others that read your blog) – and of course I’ll be upgrading to FF3 and IE8 as soon as they launch, but only because I can’t bare to see webistes rendered incorrectly (FF2 does it nicely though), but that doesn’t mean that the average Joe out there is going to upgrade – Where is their value add?! There is none really – as long as they can view “most” websites they need to without issues, they’re never going to upgrade on their own. This means only one thing – we’re doomed to support IE6and7 or years to come, and fancy new meta tags “ain’t gonna change that”. I wish it could be as simple as adding that tag though – wouldn’t it be nice to just leave all that non-compliance behind!

  5. Dave Post author

    The meta tag isn’t really for us standards compliant developers. You’re right in your comments about Microsoft’s biggest problem being their ancestors as that has been the major issue in IE7 having such a slow uptake.

    When IE7 first came out it was perceived to have broken the web in a lot of cases due to it’s rendering difference from IE6.

    Microsoft have obviously taken the decision that this can’t happen again and by providing this meta tag hopefully the take up of IE8 will be a little quicker.

    IE7 was also obviously slowed down somewhat by Microsoft checking that it was being installed on a valid Windows system so hopefully they’ve got things in place this time to ensure it gets rolled out much quicker and to a wider audience using Window update (which I believe they did with IE7 to some extent?)

    I do share your concerns though and it’ll probably be adopted quite slowly compared to Firefox, Opera and Safari users so sadly we’ll still have to consider IE6 for the next year or so and IE7 for a little longer than that.

  6. Rob Mason

    Agree that IE8 is a step forward, but I still don’t like the UI…seems too clunky and unusable (IMHO). Still at least MS are making the right noises and moves in the industry.

  7. Pingback: Great Resources Elsewhere: May 26 to June 02 - CSSnewbie

  8. Joff

    Whilst IE7’s not perfect, it’s not too bad all things considered. It’s IE6 that leaves me swearing at the screen on many occasions!

    I think a concious decision has to be made at some point to stop the support for IE6. Yes some users are still using it for whatever reason, but it’s a bad bad browser. They managed to phase out the sale of leaded petrol, so lets phase out the support for IE6. Don’t make your website work in the browser, force the site to a “your browser needs updating” page.