Microsoft reverses version targeting default

Yesterday, before publicly announcing it, developers from Microsoft called me and others to let us know that IE8’s version targeting will now work the same way other browsers work, i.e. advanced standards support will be on by default. Some people will say Microsoft caved; others, that they listened to public opinion; some may even buy the company’s own explanation, which is that, given a company-wide reorientation away from proprietary winner-take-all competitiveness and toward interoperability, “web standards by default” takes precedence over “supporting all those badly made websites that were created specifically to work in IE.”


Beyond DOCTYPE: Web Standards, Forward Compatibility, and IE8
“Having the ability to lock your site to a particular browser version is fantastic for ensuring that your site will be usable well into the future, but does it undermine the concept of progressive enhancement?” – Aaron Gustafson, A List Apart Issue No. 251, January 21, 2008.
From Switches to Targets: A Standardista’s Journey
“We say forward-compatible development is the mark of a professional because that’s what the profession demands. With the advent of version targeting, that need may simply evaporate, rendered not wrong but moot.” – Eric Meyer, A List Apart Issue No. 251, January 21, 2008.
They Shoot Browsers, Don’t They?
“Standards-aware developers, by their very nature, will object to adding a line of unnecessary markup to their documents just to get one single browser to behave as it should by default.” – Jeremy Keith, A List Apart Issue No. 253, February 19, 2008.
Version Targeting: Threat or Menace?
“Version targeting shakes our browser-agnostic faith. Its default behavior runs counter to our expectations, and seems wrong. Yet to offer true DOM support without bringing JScript-authored sites to their knees, version targeting must work the way Microsoft proposes.” – Jeffrey Zeldman, A List Apart Issue No. 253, February 19, 2008.
WaSP Round Table: IE8’s Default Version Targeting Behavior
“On 16 February, Web Standards Project Members Faruk Ateş, Porter Glendinning, and I got together with Chris Wilson, Platform Architect for Internet Explorer to talk about IE8’s proposed default version targeting behavior of having to opt-in to the browser’s new standards mode.” – Aaron Gustafson, The Web Standards Project, February 24, 2008.
Microsoft’s Interoperability Principles and IE8
“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.” – The IE Blog, March 3rd, 2008.
Microsoft Expands Support for Web Standards
“In keeping with the commitment we made in our Interoperability Principles of being even more transparent in how we support standards in our products, we will work with content publishers to ensure they fully understand the steps we are taking and will encourage them to use this beta period to update their sites to transition to the more current Web standards supported by IE8.” –, March 3rd, 2008.
Microsoft rethinks IE8’s default behavior
“This was a very complex issue and I fully understood and had come to accept Microsoft’s earlier decision to break with convention and not automatically opt sites in to the new engine, but I have to say I’m glad they’ve reversed that decision. In the end, this does put more pressure on them to get the word out about how version targeting can prevent a recurrence of the issues that came about when IE7 released, but, personally, I feel their product (and the web at large) is better for it. ” – Aaron Gusatfson, The Web Standards Project, March 3rd, 2008.

[tags]IE8, versiontargeting, webstandards, alistapart, WaSP[/tags]