IE 8 will use Standards Mode as the default rendering

As reported all over Internet, Microsoft has completely turned around regarding their initial Standards Mode approach in the upcoming IE 8.

I expressed my concern in Version targeting in IE 8, and an alternative path for Microsoft and IE 8, shooting browsers and what to do, and was even willing to compromise if they delivered a well-performing web browser, ridded of all the existing bugs.

Lo and behold, out of nowhere, the IE team posted Microsoft’s Interoperability Principles and IE8, where they reveal that Standards Mode will be enabled by default in IE 8.

What does this mean?

As far as I can interpret it:

  • DOCTYPE switching still matters. A strict DOCTYPE will trigger IE 8 Standards Mode, and a transitional will trigger the same quirks mode as in IE 6 and IE 7 (unless it’s tweaked to behave strict).
  • The meta-tag proposal is only for those who use a strict DOCTYPE but want the strict rendering of IE 7, as opposed to the one of IE 8. This is offered to those who can’t easily ensure IE 8 compatibility, and need a transition period before they’re ready.

My hope is that Conditional Comments will work as before, though, just in case IE 8 doesn’t deliver as much standards support as the competitors, or if the implementation isn’t a 100% stable.

Credits to the IE team

I, for one, have to give credits to the IE team. To adapt this way and actually deliver what most people want, and, more importantly, needs is outstanding! I’m convinced they will have to take a lot of shit from people where their web sites will break in IE 8, and will oppose the meta-tag, so it is indeed a bold decision. And, dare I say it: it’s for the better of the web. πŸ™‚

Experts losing face

The evil part of me can’t help on reflecting on web experts standing up for Microsoft’s first idea; writing articles, blog posts and arguing against their peers and colleagues. They lost respect and credibility, took a lot of shit, and for what? So Microsoft could use them, and then stab them in the back?

I hope Microsoft will offer some kind of halfway house so they can get back on track again…


But let us now all celebrate, because this will make life a lot easier for us Web Developers and at the same time knowledge about web standards will have to be spread and learnt. An inevitable side-effect is that Microsoft will have to seriously shape up their code in MOSS and other products, because their tools have to generate code which works in their web browser, right (unless they insert the meta-tag, but let’s not go down that road πŸ™‚ )?

Bring it on, Brave New World!


  • A strict DOCTYPE will trigger IE 8 Standards Mode, and a transitional will trigger the same quirks mode as in IE 6 and IE 7

    That’s not right, is it? Any valid DOCTYPE (including Transitional) will trigger Standards Mode.

  • This will undoubtedly be the best news this week, unless I suddenly inherit millions from an unknown uncle πŸ™‚

    Good move on MS to decide to stay in the game after all.

  • Hopefully they will get it right this time and this isn't just a small bone thrown to keep us happy and mess up something else.

  • I am more than willing to help clean up MOSS, why not!?

    Sounds like fun … πŸ˜‰

  • "The evil part of me" haha, that's exactly how I feel too πŸ˜€

  • Thank you IE team! You rule!

    Let us all hope they find the best solution for the IE8 release, so that as many as possible replace IE5-7.

  • David Naylor says:

    @Matthew: I think Robert is right.

    @ Robert:

    "I’m convinced they will have to take a lot of shit from people where their web sites will break in IE 8, and will oppose the meta-tag"

    I doubt they will oppose the meta tag as much as the standards crowd did. I think they'll mostly be happy for the quick and simple fix.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Matthew and I had an off-site discussion, and as far as we can tell, certain Transitional DOCTYPES will deliver wuirks mode in IE 8. The choice of word "tweaked" is however probably a bit misleading, though. πŸ™‚


    Yes, go crazy! πŸ™‚


    Well, maybe. I've met my fair share of "old traditional" customers. i.e. the ones with solutions built a long time ago, and I think a number of them will be upset if they have to change their code to work with the new IE. However, I'm not sure they're as vocal as the Web Standards crowd with blog posts, articles etc.

    Hopefully, though, you're right and they will appreciate that a fix is offered.

  • RobertDM says:

    Hallelujah!!! Praise the lord!!! This news has made my day. And thanks to the IE-team for listening.

    About the experts who defended the original views of microsoft: well, everybody makes mistakes, but serves them right for selling out on their earlier beliefs.

  • steven clark says:

    […] Update: 5 March, 2008 I think Roger Johansson’s post says about as much on the truely flabbergasted web standards front as necessary – Surprise of the year: IE8 will use Standards mode by default. And Robert Nyman’s IE 8 will use Standards Mode as the default rendering. […]

  • micke says:

    I was worried that Microsoft's "Interoperability Principles" was just empty promises and sales bullshit, but at least we're given this, and that's great news! Let's hope they fix things (i.e. follow open formats and standards) in other areas too…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    RobertDM, micke,

    Yes, it's fantastic, isn't it? πŸ™‚

  • Biodiesel says:

    LOL @ "Credits to the IE team"… people are so blind πŸ™

    In the world of business, "Interoperability Principles" can help you reduce the EU fine of 1.5 billion euros.

    The "thank you" should be extend to the Opera team for filing the antitrust complaint with the EU.

    Also LOL @ alistapart… I guess they too embarrass to post about the IE8 update.

  • David Naylor says:

    Yes it'll be intersting to see what ALA posts about next… πŸ™‚

  • Robert Nyman says:


    While that is definitely a factor, it's a bit over-cynical as well. Opera's lawsuit was pretty toothless, especially when it comes to web standards, where there are no laws, and actually just recommendations.

    So, in my opinion, crediting Opera is not what I'd do. The credits to the IE team is for their fight with web standards, and all the things they have actually implemented so far in IE 8 is impressive.

    Naturally, there's a business factor, but trust me, it's is being affected by a lot more than only EU and other web browser vendor's questionable legal approaches.

    And yeah, it will be interesting to read the next ALA article. πŸ™‚

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