Microsoft Backflips on Browser Version Targeting

    Matthew Magain

    Microsoft Does A BackflipI had to double-check today’s date when I loaded up the IEBlog this morning.

    Once I’d confirmed that it in fact wasn’t April 1st, I continued reading, transfixed. Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager of Internet Explorer, had announced that Microsoft had changed their mind about browser version targeting.

    We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we’ve posted previously. Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles. Thinking about IE8’s behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is a better thing to do.

    In addition to referencing Microsoft’s recent public commitment to interoperability, he also cited feedback from the community as a factor in the decision. He was careful to remind developers of the reasons why Microsoft were initially convinced that defaulting to IE7’s Standards rendering mode was the only option — a decision made in consultation with the Web Standards Project and leading figures like the king of web standards himself.

    The fact that Microsoft have taken this decision signifies a couple of things:

    • That they take this interoperability business seriously. Making such a big scene about openness and standards is one thing, but to, at the same time, require that developers add proprietary tags to their markup in order to trigger standards mode was entirely hypocritical.
    • That the Web really is owned by the people — not Microsoft, not WaSP, and not A List Apart. The Web Standards Project might have decided that defaulting to IE7’s standards mode for time eternal was good enough, but thankfully enough members of the community voiced their concerns via comments, blog posts and articles like the one by Jeremy Keith for them to pay attention and reconsider all the issues at hand.
    • Wait — do you hear that sound?

      That, my friends, is the cries of joy being uttered by web developers all over the world — web developers who still remember how painful IE6 has made their jobs, and who were reticent and insulted at being asked to add a proprietary tag to satisfy one modern browser’s demands.

      Huge kudos to Microsoft for making the right decision. You can dance around like a monkey and screaming Developers, developers, developers! all you want. But it’s actions like this that make us stand up and listen.

      And in this particularly relieved developer’s case, applaud.