IE8 opt‐in: reaction from other browser makers

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

Predictably, yesterday’s announcement from Microsoft about the new standards opt‐in switch has created quite a stir in the web development community. As I noted yesterday, the reaction from the other browser makers would be quite important — and it looks as if they’re not interested.

The only ‘official’ reaction came from the WebKit blog, Surfin’ Safari, who said:

We don’t see a great need to implement version targeting in Safari. We think maintaining multiple versions of the engine would have many downsides for us and little upside.

While Mozilla have made no comment that I can find, some of their developers have made their feelings clear; John Resig says:

Wanna know how I can tell that no other browser vendor participated in the creation of the new meta X‐UA‐Compatible tag? Because it’s completely worthless — and in fact harmful — for any browser to implement!

John Resig adds:

I see no reason to expect that anyone else will implement this meta tag. Why would anyone bother? It isn’t part of any spec and it doesn’t help anyone but the IE team. The way it helps them is by allowing them to force compliance with older versions of their product.

Opera also have offered no reaction that I’m aware of, although Anne van Kesteren is also not in favour:

If anything, we want less differences between quirks and standards mode. They are already causing a lot of trouble. That Eric Meyer, who once worked for Netscape, suggests that this would give us more time to do cool stuff is simply wrong. Quirks mode is costing us time that we could have otherwise spent on implementing cool features. Certainly not the other way around.

The reaction elsewhere on the web has been, on balance, more negative than positive — although certainly not overwhelmingly so. But it’s really the other browser makers who count here, as without their support this is just a newer version of conditional commenting, just another way to make IE different from the other browsers.

I think we’ll probably just have to wait and see how this works; will there, for example, be a way to always identify the browser as IE8, even on pages which don’t have the switch? Perhaps MS could release an alpha version of the new browser so we could see for ourselves how this will work in practice.

2 comments on
“IE8 opt‐in: reaction from other browser makers”

  1. It’s taken a while for me to come to a decision on this. Initially, I was completely against it. Then when you start reading that the likes of Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman think that it could work, I started coming round to the idea, after all these people who have helped web standards to the stage they’re at surely can’t be wrong?

    However, after a lot of thought I’ve decided that I’m against the idea and you can read more about my thoughts on this here…

    http://www.dave-woods.co.uk/?p=153

    But to summarize though, this change shouldn’t really effect our day to day jobs in the slightest. My main concern is for those people that don’t understand websites and who will be able to continue creating poor code that IE7 renders correctly even when IE9 and 10 are available because they’re either unaware or don’t care about the meta tag. Isn’t this counter productive to what web standards is about?

    I’ve read it suggested elsewhere that the best thing to do when IE8 is released is to leave the meta tag out and render your website in IE8 as it would in IE7. We’ll need to continue supporting IE7 anyway until all users have upgraded so why not just deal with one rendering engine where the bugs are already known instead of having to deal with two IE’s.

  2. My own hope is that the rendering engine of IE8 is so standards‐compliant that we don’t need to add any corrective styles to make up for it; that the only work we need to do is add the new META tag to our pages, and it will work perfectly across FF, Safari, IE & Opera.