There’s an interesting piece on ZDNet today about Microsoft’s imminent IE8 browser and the “Compatibility List” it includes. The background to this is that, as the article’s author May Jo Foley puts it, most websites are written so that they will work ‘correctly’ with previous, non-standards-based versions of IE. In fudging things so that they would work with IE, apparently a lot of web site creators have ended up with sites which now may not display correctly with IE8.
Foley goes on to make the following Sibylline observation: “I doubt the compatibility experience is going to change much, if at all, between now and the time IE 8 is released. For months, Microsoft has been banging the drum for site owners to update their code — either by adding compatibility tags or redoing sites to take into account the changes in IE 8.”
Well, who can blame the site owners? I have recently had to build two websites of my own, for the first time in a few years. I used standard, opens-source site creation tools provided by my hosting company, and frankly, if IE8 can’t or won’t render the results properly, I have a hard time seeing how that is my problem to fix. I can’t get rid of the mental image of a dog being vigorously wagged by its tail. The situation is, as so often, most elegantly summed up by the late Douglas Adams: “In cases of major discrepancy [it’s] always reality that’s got it wrong”.
Incidentally, there is practically no prospect of my discovering, first-hand, whether or not my site is IE8-compatible or not – so if you find out, please be so kind as to let me know (and I’ll pass the message on to the IE8 folks…).
Foley also says, in a rather uncharacteristic burst of MS-antipathy:
“I’m at the point now — if a site looks weird, is slow or just doesn’t seem to be working right — I simply assume it is IE 8’s fault. […] The bottom line is I’ve come to expect a rocky browsing experience when using IE 8.”
Well – the obstacles to an alternative are really not that high.