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back to article Microsoft breaks IE8 interoperability promise

In March, Microsoft announced that their upcoming Internet Explorer 8 would: "use its most standards compliant mode, IE8 Standards, as the default." Note the last word: default. Microsoft argued that, in light of their newly published interoperability principles, it was the right thing to do. This declaration heralded an about- …

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Boffin

Beta & dodgy maths

First, this is a beta release... the idea is to find issues like this so they can be fixed in the final release.

That check box is almost certainly able to be toggled during the deployment process - that way enterprises can set it when they roll out IE8, on the basis of whether or not their intranet is standards-compliant.

The logic must be that companies with standards compliant intranets are more likely the ones who can use group policy to set this behaviour; conversely those companies that need the non-standards view are the ones less likely to have the know-how to set this.

In this respect, I think they've done the right thing.

I think your maths is a little off though - more like 30% will be intranet based.

The icon could do with being more meaningful, but otherwise they seem to have done a pretty good job.

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Flame

... suggested remedies

How about educating the masses to boycott M$'s useless browser altogether?

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Slightly unfair

My employer hasn't even deployed IE7 yet as our Intranet pages were coded to work with IE6 and are broken under 7, so maybe Microsoft is actually listening to the enterprise and doing the right thing by making compatibility mode the default for Intranet pages.

No idea what's going on with the icon though, surely the 'broken page' icon should be for compatibility mode not standards mode!

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Gates Horns

QUEL SUPRISÉ!

There is no justice in this world. If I go to great lengths to make a site conformant to standards then IE puts a goddamned broken page next to it I'm going to fornicate someone with a rusty garden imlement.

Everyone should stay detecting IE browsers and boycotting IE users with a "Please use a stands compliant browser such as Firefox or Opera found at.." message, then display a giant picture of a middle finger instead of the intended page.

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'Taint Rocket Science

How about using standards mode if the page actually validates against the DTD it claims to? Then you get the good stuff if you've earned it. If you haven't you're probably expecting the historical cruft.

Some might claim that validation would be too costly, but iCab on the Mac has always done it in a very small fast browser. Shows a cute smiley with a valid page. Sadly, it very rerely gets to smile.

http://www.icab.de

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair...

...most intranets probably won't work in compliance mode -- that was always one of the biggest concerns with standards mode.

However, given the user profile, couldn't that have been left out of the UI and managed by Active Directory?

Joined up thinking and all....

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Mo

Um

The icon is retarded.

However, defaulting to compatibility view JUST for intranet-mode sites is entirely sensible. it completely avoids the problem that Microsoft has had in the past—that enterprise customers and the entire rest of the world had differing requirements.

Let intranets be viewed in compatibility mode. None of us web developers will actually care, because all of the stuff WE deal with will be standards-compliant.

Meanwhile, enterprise developers who are stuck with a horrific godawful legacy mess won't have to scramble to fix them.

The fact that IE has "security zones" is something that was completely forgotten about in the debate over the IE8 meta tag, and making use of them is a rather elegant sidestep of the whole problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

I think you are making a bigger thing out of this than it actually is. Traditionally, intranet applications are poorly coded because they rely on IE6 / whatever rendering engines to 'break', and aren't standards compliant. Rendering intranet sites in compatibility mode is a perfectly sensible decision imo, and can even be turned off. The internet is rendered in standards mode by default, as promised by them.

While I agree the icon is a poor choice, I can see their thinking behind it - use it if the page 'looks' broken. Any other suggestions for what they could use instead that is intuitive?

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Flame

What a load of utter cobblers!

There's a cast-iron reason why Intranet pages *should* default to compatibility mode by default. As has already been said many times around here, IE dominates in the corporate market due to its central management features. Thus the majority of corp Intranets are built for IE (who needs to handle multiple browsers when you have a corp standard?). Thus the corp Intranets are the most likely things to break when standards mode is preferred.

MS are taking an eminently sensible approach to this one. Defaulting to standards mode for Intranets would serve no purpose other than to piss off large numbers of admins who would have to push a settings change to all their users (still, at least they *could* with IE). If Mr Lie thinks that a standards default would cause the corp boys to suddenly update all their pages to standards-compliant (either writing off compatibility for all their older setups in the process or creating a need to do every subsequent change twice), providing a way in to the corp market for Opera, he's an even bigger idiot than the article makes him sound already.

The "standards" icon's a bit of a pig's ear, I agree. We call this a "cosmetic" error in the real world though. If that's the best he can do by way of a problem in IE8, that sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

RE: Slightly unfair

>> No idea what's going on with the icon though, surely the 'broken page' icon should be for compatibility mode not standards mode!

I believe he meant the opposite: The "broken page" icon appears when you are in Standards Mode, pressumably as a switch to engage Compatibility Mode, i.e. "broken page mode".

I see nothing wrong with this. I have not used IE8, nor have I seen this new icon and how it's shown; so it could be that the author is complaining that it is not clear that the icon is a switch button. However, I will hazard a guess that if the button appears on a /toolbar/, along with other /tool/ buttons which perform some /action/, then it's hardly likely users would think that the icon is instead only a /status/ marker.

All in all, the article is alarmist for very little reason, and seems only to bash the new browser for the sake of complaining. I much more enjoyed Austine Modine's take on the new Beta release of IE8. Now that's unabashed bias with style.

-dZ.

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Stop

@Ac (bollocks)

"The icon could do with being more meaningful"

I think you will find the icon is perfectly meaningful. They mean 'please, gullible user, assume this perfectly good, standards based page is in some way broken and only microsoft can fix your viewing experience. Don't trust those other guys no no no'.

They should have used a broken ie logo.

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Promise KEPT, not BROKEN. Internet pages are rendered in Standards Mode

Microsoft said that their new browser, when released, would render Internet web sites in standards mode by default, and the majority of the world applauded. A few companies, however, that have heavily invested in Microsoft’s broken technology stood up and reminded Microsoft that they needed to maintain compatibility with their existing base. The solution to render INTRA-net sites that never see the light of day outside of the companies for which they were developed and which often include very old, poorly-developed pages (developed? More like thrown together in Word and Publisher of which senior management is extremely proud and the rest of the staff snickers)

The splitting of Intranet vs Internet and rendering them differently is an elegant solution that allows IE 8 to be deployed as a more drop-in solution for businesses, and I for one applaud it. It will increase the deployment of standards-compliant browsers across the board, and hopefully some day soon I won’t have to keep testing the web sites that I develop under IE5 and IE6 to make sure that they are usable by my corporate clients.

So then I had to ask, “What kind of out-of-touch idiot would write an article like this”. Microsoft hasn’t broken their promise to the Internet, and they haven’t broken their promise to the companies that pay their bills, and if anything they have found a solution that appeases both. Then I looked at the byline, and things became clearer.

Of course, companies that COMPETE with Microsoft don’t like it when Microsoft actually does something right for a change.

Chief Technical Officer? A More apt title would be Minister of Propaganda.

This article was nothing more than a propaganda smear by someone who tries to spin something that is right into something that is wrong, and is doing so purely for financial reasons.

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Hmm.

I'm surprised with myself, but I don't actually see the problem with using the old rendering mode for intranets by default. Most corporate intranets are old, IE-only and maintained by people without the technical knowledge to update them. Obviously this isn't ideal, but it makes this a user-friendly decision by Microsoft.

The broken page icon is pretty bad, though. You can see the logic - if this page looks broken, click here - but they should find another way of doing it.

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A beta release... so they'll remove this piece of stupidity, right?

"First, this is a beta release... the idea is to find issues like this so they can be fixed in the final release."

Yeah, right... Let's wait and see if this 'feature' is absent from the final version. Somehow I'm not expecting to be surprised...

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At least...

By having standard mode on intranet sites the organisation can choose to over-ride it with a group policy.

Users without group policy shouldn't have to worry as they are unlikely to be looking at intranet documents.

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Beta

Yes, IE8 is still in beta and the issues I point out in the article can still be fixed. I ask them to do so in the last sentence.

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promises vs. business models

Perhaps it makes business sense for Microsoft to not support standards and to listen to their enterprise customers instead. If so, however, they shouldn't make promises regarding support for standards.

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intranet math

Maybe you're right that intranet page views is 30% instead of 50%, it's hard to measure. Still, it's a very significant number and it shouldn't be forgotten when promises are made.

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Standards and "Beta & dodgy maths"

Standards are standards. If you are not going to adhere to standards, why have standards at all?

If all browsers are standards-compliant from the word go, then every roll-out will be standards-compliant - IE8 or not. Having an option to toggle into a non-standards view simply takes the piss, something Microsoft are very good at doing.

As a developer, I need to code for all platforms (fact of life) and having to cater for a Microsoft-only platform only increases my workload, costs and pain. Rather than tying punters to Windows, which is Microsoft's objective in everything they do, they just succeed in pissing everybody off. That is why I (and others like me) hate them.

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Stop

What a totally irrelevant rant

Can someone fire this guy?

You do know the difference between intranet and internet right?

While IE might only have 75%-80% browser share in the general market, in the corporate market that is going to be well over 95%.

Any corporation is only going to install a web browser if it doesn't break their internal applications and therefore costs them as close to nothing as is practical. Most internal corporate web applications are usually rarely updated, in house coded, and so on. Also they'll have been written specifically for IE because no Corporation is going to pay for cross browser compatability code when they can just say 'just code for this'.

The upshot of microsoft doing this is, therefore, get a better more compliant browser onto as manay machines as possible. Those corporate types browsing the internet will still view it in standards mode without their internal applications breaking.

If the whiney designers want to develop standards based websites they're free to do so only when a very significant amount of the internet uses said standards. Right now, they're just dumb creating pure stanadards based sites because 80% of their audience won't see it displayed correctly. Sure MS is out of line, but there's a big difference between an abstract standard set by some NGO and the effective standard that is actually used by end users.

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Anonymous Coward

Oooh...

... looks like Opera have picked up the FUD mantle now. Or should that be OP£RA? ;)

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Paris Hilton

Am I reading it wrong?

The box below the intranet one says "Display all websites in Compatibility View" and is unticked - therefore any website outside the intranet will be in standards mode by default.

Paris - because I feel like I'm asking a dumb question.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Beta & dodgy maths

Re "...the idea is to find issues like this so they can be fixed in the final release."

I think you are being way too kind to MS. What do you mean by "the idea is to find issues like this"? They deliberately MADE the issue. It's not a bug. It's a very specific and deliberate design decision. I'm sure MS are fully aware of this "feature" and how it's working. And no doubt, they have no intention of changing it.

Why anyone uses IE at all is beyond me, but that's no excuse for not following standards. But then that's MS for you - they have always systematically ignored or abused any standard that ever was. I'm sure they would have preferred not to support TCP/IP back when they were adding networking to Windows. Unfortunately for them, it was just too engrained in the internet for them to ignore, and I bet that really grated!

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Um .... where are these figures coming from?

So according to the Chief Technology Officer of Opera, entreprise pcs using webbrowsers spend 80% of their time on intranet sites? Where exactly does that figure come from? The air?

Care to substantiate any stats presented in that "article"?

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Gates Horns

Rod for their own back

MS (and Netscape in their day) created this problem by deliberately ignoring standards in favour of their own proprietry implementations, simply to try and maintain market share.

So now they're in something of a hole: imagine the screams if IE8 became standards compliant overnight and 'broke' all the pages they'd spent years cultivating?

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Broken page mode

[Entirely uninformed, since I've not seen it in action, but] it seems to me that if this is a button, then the logic is sound - "click the broken page to go to broken page mode". The same way a button with a magnifying glass and a + means "make this big", not "this is big, make it small".

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Anonymous Coward

Icon

I think the icon is trying to represent two things fitting together ...

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Silver badge

Standards? Who needs standards?

"our Intranet pages were coded to work with IE6"... it's this kind of stupidity that is the cause behind so many of the problems in web pages / services these days.

Other than this, the "intranet" option is likely to be their work around to allow sharepointless to actually work... in the latest version MS purposefully reduced functionality for anything other than IE (and all in the name of compatibility). Doubtless if IE8 worked in any forms of standards, sharepoint would fail. The problem is, sharepoint is so pathalogically badly designed and cobbled together that there's no way they could fix it and maintain any form of compatibility between "applications" designed for older versions of it and a newer version. Instead, MS can only add more and more bloat (occasionally touted as features) and make an already awful system even slower and less efficient than previously.

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C
Alien

Just another atempt at "Embrace and extend"

MS products = POS (no that's not 'Point Of Sale')

To be honest I consider Firefox 2 to be superior to any MS web browser precisely because of such shenanigans, plus it just plain works better!

Firefox 3 is nice and all, but did they have to make it look like IE7 by default?! IE7 is nasty I avoid it like the plague.

Hey Mozilla! Don't copy your imitators, its really bad form!

The downhill slide of MS products seems to have picked up a lot more speed the last few years .. just like a rocket sled pointed down. The crap they've released in the last 2 to 3 years is just not usable IMO. Although I've been using and supporting MS products since 95', it is time to go to something else.

MS is a sinking ship, while MAC and Linux are coming to the rescue.

This week I had to setup some networking stuff on a MAC which I've not done for years. Even though I was a bit lost at first, it was surprisingly easy. The whole experience left me with a very nice impression compared with the nightmare that is VISTA. At this point I would even recommend it over XP.

And I thought I was a Linux fanboi! Long live Linux! .. but let me have a MAC.

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Oh the irony

all the text on this site is far too small unless I click on the compatibility icon :D

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Gates Halo

Tripe

Totally of the mark for me, being able to maintain a list of sites to use 'compatibility mode' means you dont become relient on the button. If i had to keep clicking that button on and off for my intranet to work I'd just leave it on, making the improved standards support etc pointless.

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Broken page icon

Maybe it ought to be the IE "Blue E" icon with a break in it. IE is, for W3C standards, broken.

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Dead Vulture

Re: Slightly unfair

Same here - no IE7 in current workplace. Previous workplace migrated after a long test period. Exactly how many workplaces have not standardised on IE???

El Reg, I think it is about time you took your beak out of your date and got some fresh air. These ongoing bitchfests about MS, the evil of renewable energy, PS3s, iPhones, these poor poor thieving pirates, etc. etc. are getting seriously tiresome.

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Bronze badge

Hysteria?

Bit of an OTT article this. Most people don't know/care about standards compliance; they won't be receiving any messages about whether or not it's a good idea.

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Stop

BUTTON NOT ICON!

Reg got it wrong.That button is for those bastardly coded pages,which are under IE8 unviewable.It is NOT ICON BUT BUTTON!!!

Please,check your facts,before posting,since it shows that you think that at least part of your audience is stupid and/or MS/IE haters who will not check whether it is true or not..

And it is needed as hell,since soem servers will send IE7 CSS to IE8,which causes IE8 to render page incorrectly.

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Standards!

Now I like to bash MS just as much as the next guy, but almost all browsers have problems with rendering:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid3#Desktop_browsers

Shock, horror! Eric Raymond LIED to me!

Also, standards are hard, mainly because there are lots of laissez-faire knobjockeys out there (not Joel):

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/03/17.html

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Come on!

This seems to be a little disingenuous to say the least. While it may be true that Intranet pages will be displayed in compatibility mode, it's a little unfair to lambast MS for breaking their promise. Most Corp customers would be most displeased if their Intranet pages suddenly started misbehaving because they weren't written correctly. They aren't created fro general use, but for a specific targeted controlled platform.

On the other hand, public websites will now display in Standards mode, meaning that developers of public websites will be encouraged to code correctly to ensure that the page works.

MS seem to have taken a reasonable middle-ground stance

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This is desperate

This article is so biased it's unbelievable, I know it was written by a mouthpiece from Opera but seriosuly this is pathetic.

1) The compatibility button is for when a page is trying to be displayed in "modern standards like how IE 7 displays modern standards", rather than full standards compliance. Yes, this is Microsoft's fault for not implementing standards sooner but they're not trying to force you out of using standards now.

2) It displays intranet sites in compatibility mode by default. Wow! Who cares? I'm sure most companies will be glad of this. Everyday home web users won't notice a difference or care one jot because they never, ever, see an intranet page in their life. So the writer's calculations is that 80% of all webpage views are intranet and so account for 1/2 of all PC's webpage viewing. Really? If so who cares? What companies get upto internally won't make one difference to the precious little world of the Internet, especially if IE8 is going to behave nicely on a company's intranet as well as the Internet.

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the moral?

Don't bitch about Microsoft behaving like a bunch of scallywags. They always do. It's not news. Just ditch Windows and get yourself a nice standards compliant (posix) OS. It doesn't matter which brand. Just choose anything that hadn't been tainted by Microsoft

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Gates Horns

Probably internal

I used to work for MS (there I've said it, I was satan's willing f*cktoy for a year or so back in 2002).

Whenever possible (i.e. where an application is not mission critical) they strongly encourage product testing within the workforce and - guess what - they have a massive intranet full of IE specific sites. Could be that this intranet checkbox thing is on by default to avoid breaking their own workers' sites as the beta is rolled out internally.

Still doesn't make it right though; and they are taking the piss with that broken page icon.

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In fact...

...to expand on my earlier comment, having tried IE8 for a whole hour now, an astonishingly high number of sites _don't_ trigger crufty quirks mode yet have errors or serious bugs when viewed in IE8 mode vs IE7 compatability mode. My online banking, for example, uses a drop-down box to show login options. Unless I click the compatability icon this disappears as soon as I mouse over it. I begin to see a) Why MS keep going on about backwards compatability, b) why that icon is there

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RW
Boffin

Extensions

Proprietary extensions to standardized software have been a problem for decades. Just read the history of Fortran and Cobol. In the days of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs[*], every company's compiler had features unique unto itself.

The only solution is for those who hold the rights to a standard to stipulate that if there are *any* extensions available, even at the user's option, then the extended version cannot use even the name of the standard. It helps if as many as possible of the details of the standard are themselves copyright or trademarked.

I believe this issue was the crux of Sun's lawsuit against MS for MS's "extensions" to Java.

So the question arises: are the terms "html", "world-wide web", "web browser" and such copyrighted or trademarked? Probably not; too bad.

Note that another issue is a standard that is ambiguous. This can be dealt with by the creation of test suites, as exist now for various features of html & JS. I'm waiting for someone to create test suites vis a vis the OOXML standard that are (a) reasonable interpretations of said standard and (b) break Word. ha ha

[*] IBM and its seven competitors in the big iron business: NCR, CDC, Burroughs, Univac, RCA, GE, and Honeywell, iirc. Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. I remember as a boy having to chase a pterodactyl down the street if I want protein for lunch.

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Microsoft Standards

Just another one for the oxymoron file. That's all.

"We don't have to, we're Microsoft" (said in wonderful Ernestine/Lily Tomlin voice)

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Flame

Why The Rant?

Wow, you must really be tough on babies. They can't walk, they can't talk and all they really can do is eat, sleep, and poop. A loud speaker on one end and total irresponsibility on the other. Obviously the Maker here is in serious trouble with you since the early iteration of human.1 is really not up to "standards".

Brilliant bit of analysis Mr. Lie.

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re: What a totally irrelevant rant

Well, Matt, why did MS bother to update IE from 6 anyway? Surely just security fixes is all. Then you don't have to change ANY of your intranet, whereas you DO have to check and update to move from IE6 to IE7 and (if one poster is to believed) you still have to change for IE8. Not as much as doing it right once and for all, but you still have to change.

Maybe you ought to be sacked for being an idiot.

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This article is full of crap

Having Compatibility View on by default for Intranet sites only makes sense. Otherwise, IE8 would break every enterprise in existence. Nobody is complaining about this decision, so quit with the sensationalism about "broken promises." No promise has been broken here.

Second, this article is full of lies or inaccuracies.

Intranet pages, or any other standards-mode page, CAN define itself as being IE8 compatible and then it will never go into Compatibility View, and will NOT have the broken page icon.

So please correct your asinine "article."

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Compatibility mode and Targeting IE with valid CSS selectors

@Daniel Klima

"And it is needed as hell,since soem servers will send IE7 CSS to IE8,which causes IE8 to render page incorrectly."

My response to your comment, as well as talking a bit about the compatibility mode buttons, their states and what they represent can be found here:

http://www.naterkane.com/blog/2008/08/29/compatibility-mode-and-targeting-ie-with-valid-css-selectors/

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Anonymous Coward

Intranet Mode

It seems that intranet mode in IE8 is off by default. If you visit a local address, a yellow bar pops down asking if you want to turn it on, or leave it off and never show the bar again.

The user has to ACTIVELY TURN ON intranet settings, otherwise EVERYTHING is rendered in standards mode.

No broken promises here.

Hakon Wium Lie: I applaud Opera for trying to push standards onto IE and the web in general, but this is just a really low blow, and a lame attempt to have a dig at MS when they are doing something right. Noone likes the state that IE 5/6 is in now, not even MS. They didn't design it that way on 'purpose' - the state of IE now is a result of being a market leader in the 90s when this kind of technology was new, and recent changes in user expectations. As a result of having such a large user base, they can't exactly just break all backwards compatibility as easily as some less popular software manufacturers can.

IE are taking steps to bringing the browser back in line with modern expectations - yes it has taken longer than others, for the reason mentioned above, but don't start taking cheap potshots when they are making all the right moves.

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Mr. Lie ...

... you're not bemoaning Microsoft's focus on encouraging standards on the web whilst ensuring a great user experience for users browsing intranet sites crafted largely by people who are not professional web developers are you?

Surely not.

I mean ... you're not biased in any way, right?

Of course you aren't ... I mean, even though your CTO of one of IE's competitors ...

... you wouldn't abuse that position would you?

You would? Damn!

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