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back to article Behind IE 8's big incompatibility list

To realize the scale of the challenge facing Microsoft as it pulls the web around to Internet Explorer 8, you need look no further than the list of sites that fail to render properly on the browser. All-about-Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley has reported that - out of the box - the current IE 8 release candidate will not work …

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft's biggest problem here is going to be Joe Blow

who downloads IE8 on the back of a ton of banner ads in his HoTMaiL erm, Windows Live Mail account and discovers that "The Internet is broken". So he finds his way to downloading an alternative browser and finding that it works just fine, and uses it forever more.

Yes, it's encouraging to see MS finally getting on board the standards train, but I can't help thinking that its failure to do so earlier, relying instead on its traditional arrogance, will ultimately prove to be a huge footbullet.

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I don't understand this

How come all of those sites work in Firefox, Crome, Opera etc? All of those largely follow web standards much more than IE, so why is it a problem when IE starts?

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Paris Hilton

But is it compatible with...

...most porn sites?

Paris for obvious reasons.

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Pirate

Microsoft is freakin stoopid

Their own sites don't even render. As a web developer, I have to say their own web controls don't even render. How could they do this? What idiots. "We embrace standards, to the point that our own shit doesn't even work". WTF right hand meet left hand...

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Happy

Microsoft sites and services

I wonder if Microsoft will rework Remote Outlook and Sharepoint to fit to web standards? Those two services are the only two things I still use IE for - once they work with web standards, I'm hoping I can ditch IE altogether.

And even better, as I won't need IE, I'll no longer need Windows :)

Go IE8!

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Why don't...

... M$ just stop bothering fiddling with IE x & just take over Mozilla, (or Opera,) instead, as they can actually afford to? When M$ can't make a product work, they normally buy the technology from someone else. Remember QDOS/MS-DOS? {No not the Sinclair QDOS, that actually worked & actually multi-tasked in BASIC!}

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Gates Horns

So if every other browser on the planet renders these sites perfectly...

What the hell are Microsoft up to this time?

They aren't up to their old tricks again by any chance?

So let me see if I have this straight. A whole host of websites, which render without any problem in any other browser available, don't render correctly on the IE 8 engine. And Microsoft is asking people to change their code so it will work on IE 8 to comply with these "standards" MS is adopting, which will do what to rendering on rival browsers? If they render perfectly on rival browsers which are genuinely standards compliant, why do these companies have to change their website coding to suite Microsoft again?

So somehow these websites break because Microsoft is now "embracing and adopting web standards"? Even though they render perfectly on rival browsers which are actually standards compliant...

Am I missing something here??

Which standards is the dinosaur adopting, it's own?

This isn't "embrace and extend" again, is it?

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We must end this madness - no pain no gain

Consider this a pennance on the part of Microsoft for all the wasted effort and time spent attmpting to buid working websites with the shining turds that are IE6 and IE7. Microsoft are doing "The right thing"TM and should be applauded for finally seeing the light after so many years in the wilderness.

Microsoft are drinking at the Last Chance Saloon as far as the web development community are concerned. Their falling browser share in our website logs show that it's not just developers who are turning away from them.

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Flame

Standards.

The nice thing about standards is that there's so many to choose from.

IE 8 seems to be yet another good reason to stick with Vulpes Inflammabilis v3.x

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Gates Horns

Standards compliance my arse.

Their hyped new-found love of standards compliance is bullshit anyway.

I have a simple site coded to XHTML/1.1 Strict and CSS2. It passes the relevant W3C validators flawlessly and renders identically in standards compliance mode with IE6&7, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Firefox 2&3 with zero browser-specific code.

Does it render properly in IE8 standards mode? Does it hell borders disappear, backgrounds disappear and divs shift all over the bloody place. The solution, according to MS is spend hours working to fix the site because they've shifted their idea of what 'standards compliance' means again, and failed to hit the target, again. Either that or send a messy non-standard header to the client. This triggers a balloon in the browser that sneakily implies to users who don't know better that it's my code at fault...

Where's the Evil Balmer icon?

If anyone wants me, I'll be in the Angry Dome.... <grrr>

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RW
Happy

Funny thing, but Firefox works just fine

It's very rare for a site not to work using Firefox which is afaik pretty good about standards compliance.

One wonders if the problem is that the 2,400 fail sites detect the browser as IE without noting that it's IE8, and go into IE6/7 mode. Maybe MS should rename IE to something else like "Netscope". Or "WebViewer". Or "MicrosoftBrowser". Or even the immortal "Internet Exploder".

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Silver badge

MS's stupidity is infinite - an example

Installed SQL server 2005, had problems, found a handy link. Here it is:

<http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/sqlsetupandupgrade/thread/cf2573e7-c9db-4b6f-8894-e99c30124cdb/>

.

Except that I use noscript and this F&£$%^ING page won't display and tells you it won't display *UNLESS JAVSCRIPT IS ENABLED* even though it's STATIC TEXT.

.

I am getting sick of MS. "the pain is only just beginning for Microsoft ". Damn right, I hope it burns the hide off the clown who decided this was a great idea.

I'm seriously angry. MS is the ultimate dog in the manger; if they can't have it all to themselves they'll ruin it for everyone else.

I should be mellow about it. It's a losing strategy in the long term. I just don't feel mellow right now.

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Ben

Am I missing something here?

***Microsoft will need to make the case for support for IE 8***

I thought the whole point of IE8 is that Microsoft DOESN'T have to do that.

What website owners DO have to do that is treat IE8 exactly the same as Firefox and Safari and Opera and any other standards browser and just serve exactly the same page as for everyone else

So no more blanket <if IE> tags/scripts.

It is only IE7 and below that will need special pages

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Flame

"IE8 Web Standards" = Oxymoron

When a site renders in ALL other current browsers using Web Standard HTML* and STILL doesn't render properly in IE8 rc1 then you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out where the problem lies.

*e.g. the site looks fine and gets NO errors or warnings when using the HTML Validator/Tidy extension in Firefox.

Do Microsoft actually understand what "Web Standards" mean? Bloody IE-tards - they should just give up and let IE die before it inflicts the need for yet another round of hacks on us web developers. Twats.

http://www.vilain.com/web-design.html

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Paris Hilton

Never thought I'd take Microsoft's side...

but I just tried to validate Google. It's not even HTML 3.2 compliant!

Having said that, Mozilla and Opera seem to have no trouble writing engines that can render "broken" sites like Google while also rendering standards-compliant sites properly. Why can't Microsoft?

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A taste of their own medicine ...

After years of dealing with Microsoft's own standards and them being a law unto themselves it is great to hear that they finally are finding out for themselves what the problems are ... and that it might be hurting.

Shall we talk about winmail.dat now ?

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Anonymous Coward

Words fail me....

'web sites that are not yet ready for IE8’s new, more standards-compliant defaults'

Pass the bucket someone

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Anonymous Coward

Words fail me.... (again)

'New versions of IE take a year or so to flood the market,'

New versions of Windows however take 2 years to gain 10% of market.

I'm gonna need that bucket again

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N

The Internet

Best viewed without internet explorer 8.0

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@ Dan Moore

The problem is sites that render standards compliant html to firefox, chrome and others may return special internet expolorer markup if they detect an internet explorer user agent. That breaks ie8 where other browsers work correctly.

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Jobs Horns

WTF

Why can't these bozos manage to produce a decent browser?

IE is a pox on the web and all those who use it. If ever there a piece of software that need to die it is IE. (And Lotus farking Notes TBH)

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@Dan Moore / Stuart Duel

"How come all of those sites work in Firefox, Crome, Opera etc? All of those largely follow web standards much more than IE, so why is it a problem when IE starts?"

Older (ie all current) versions of IE have pretty Epic Fails when rendering standards-compliant websites. So those websites, not wanting to scare away Joe Default Browser, have special-case code so that on IE, and IE only, the site renders "differently" (ie renders the same as the other browsers). So when ie8 comes along, it hits the ie-only code, and looks like ass as a result.

The problem is, for reasons that mystify me, the most popular methods for special-casing IE seem to be the most hackiest, and the least flexible. (using CSS hacks, for instance, or using conditional comments - the proper way - but specifying "IE" rather than specifying specific versions)

Also note that "standards compliant browser" is a loaded tern. Even CSS2 isn't a "standard" yet, and _no_ browser is totally CSS3 compliant (and CSS3 has a decent chance of changing, at least in subtle ways, before becoming fixed)

The root cause of the problem? Older versions of IE for causing the whole mess in the first place. But that doesn't mean the hordes of webdevs who hacked around the issues but can't be bothered to either globally add one header to the web config, or add one meta tag to their pages* (or even, oh my gosh, actually fix their sites), aren't stupid too.

*To make IE8 behave as IE7, which they've made their pages hacky to support

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Anonymous Coward

People stop bitching

"How come all of those sites work in Firefox, Crome, Opera etc? All of those largely follow web standards much more than IE, so why is it a problem when IE starts?"

Because people use bad version checking when they add there IE hacks, instead of checking for IE version 7 or 6 etc they check for IE.

So IE 8 visits sites, site goes "ah your ie,. here have the specially edited code" and instead of serving the page it gives to firefox et all, gives a modified site that will look odd in IE8 standards mode!

"Microsoft are drinking at the Last Chance Saloon as far as the web development community are concerned. Their falling browser share in our website logs show that it's not just developers who are turning away from them."

No they are drinking from the last chance sallon from the many web developers who don't actually develop in the real world, and love firefox like its there own son. Its stilla stupidly high browser share AND will still be in business for a long time to come.

That said as has been proved these last couple of years, no matter what MS do , poeple will complain, even tho they never had any intention of using them in the first place

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Boffin

@ Dan Moore

> "How come all of those sites work in Firefox, Crome, Opera etc? All of those largely follow web standards much more than IE, so why is it a problem when IE starts?"

A guess: Those sites check for a browser identification string, and serve differently formatted content to Firefox etc. The problem for Microsoft is that IE8 obviously reports itself as Internet Explorer, but does not behave any more like older IE versions did...

Maybe the sites would work better if IE8 reported itself as Firefox :-)

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IPB
Paris Hilton

It's easy to make your site work in IE8

Several months ago we put some code in our site that makes IE8 render as if it was IE7. Microsoft provide this code and it's a simple cut and paste job.

Job done.

Paris, because even she could do it.

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Want to see something genuinely funny

The 'Internet Explorer 8' home page has 170 validtaion errors and 97 warnings on it:

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.com%2Fwindows%2FInternet-explorer%2Fbeta%2Fdefault.aspx&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=Inline&group=0

The 'download Internet Explorer 8' page has 164 validation errors and 83 warnings:

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.com%2Fwindows%2Finternet-explorer%2Fbeta%2Fworldwide-sites.aspx&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=Inline&group=0

...and so on, and so on. You can put every page on the dowload process through the validator. Not one of them has less than 150 markup errors.

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Gates Horns

@ Dan Moore

The problem is that loads of sites feed IE either different pages or different style sheets because of its incompatibilities, so when they see IE 8 requesting pages it gets fed these non-standard-based pages/styles, whereas Firefox/Safari/Chrome get fed the standards-based pages that IE 8 supposedly now wants/needs.

So IE8's problems are a direct result of web sites trying to cater for earlier versions of IE's stupidities. Hoist by their own petard, methinks.

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Unhappy

Confused

I genuinely don't understand what MS has done here. I thought the point of IE8 was it was shifting to standards-based renderings of HTML and CSS. I browse many of these sites on a daily basis (the BBC for example) using Ff, and see no problems.

Is it the case that all of these sites have workarounds that are triggered by the user agent being IE, or is it that IE8 isn't implementing web standards?

I don't get it.

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Alert

Am I right in saying this?

I have a feeling the reason some sites don't work in IE8 is that they are detecting that it's Internet Explorer and saying 'oh shit we'd better stuff in these IE hacks' which in turn dick around with the rendering in IE8 because it doesn't need the hacks.

So wonderful, now we'll need to put in an anti-hack hack for IE8...weeeeeeeeee

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Gates Horns

insert pointless title here

So let me get this straight...

All these websites work perfectly well with the majority of current browsers, as they follow the recognised standards.

Microsoft comes along with IE8 and says to everyone "you have to re-code your sites so that they work with our new browser"

Why isn't everyone telling MS to "jog on, ya fanny" as we like to say here in Glasgow?

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Gates Horns

Non-story

because thousands of website developers (who know by heart the limited number of tricks you need to support IE7) will be doing what I'm doing... putting the IE7-emulation mode tag in every page of all my sites, then getting on with my life without having to even think about IE8.

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Gates Horns

Back to the 1990's

We're going to have to reintroduce slash pages aren't we. I hope the EU kick seven shades out of Microsoft over IE...

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Anonymous Coward

So what

My company still uses IE6. It always will do. It works with the local intranet so thats all we need. Only 2400 broken sites would be a dream come true. More drop off the internet every day.

And were one of the biggest employers in the EU. And in the Aerospace industry. We should know better.

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Gates Horns

Poor use of English by El Reg

It isn't a list of sites that "fail to render properly on the browser" as reported, but a list of sites that "the browser fails to render properly". One way of saying it I'd a subtle dig at the sites on behalf of MS's PR, the other is the truth - it's the browser's fault. .

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Gates Halo

@Dan

Maybe it's time for Microsoft to release a new product rather than trying to make the web work in its old one?

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@Dan

Possibly because the sites have hacks/workarounds that ensure the site renders correctly for IE.

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Flame

Scratches head....

Hmm now let me see IE 8 is CSS 2.1 complient if so then it should take any CSS 2 style sheet and render this correctly with no stupid IE 5/6/7 quirks, it SHOULD therefore ignore any of those quirks as they are all well documented..

It depends on what's breaking, i bet it's MS "implimentation" of the standard, they just can't get it right IE 7 works sort of I code around stuff for IE 6 or below but only IE 6 or below since

"document.all" (remember that one folks) doesn't work in IE 7 (easy way of detecting IE 6 or below they answer to that).

I personally use FF 3 as it renders all my sites, works with my bank and pretty much everything else unless that site insists on some stupid fuxing ActiveX control in which case it can go **** itself...

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Paris Hilton

<yawn>

BFD; use FF.

Paris because one fox always sniffs out another.

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Gates Horns

Re: Standards working in Firefox, failing in IE8

I'm guessing the reason sites work in other standards-compliant browsers but fail in IE8 is because many of these sites will have some kind of user-agent detection to determine what browser they're rendering to and altering the HTML accordingly.

Pseudo-code time:

if (browser.agent == "Firefox/Opera/Safari/Chrome/Konqueror/anything except IE")

{

<original standards-compliant HTML lovingly crafted by developer>

} else {

<bastardised collection of hacks and dodgy HTML to get the site working in IE, liberally

sprinkled with colourful expletives questioning the parentage of BillG>

}

Even if IE8 is more compliant, many websites will still give it the botched-up HTML needed to display the site in IE6 rather than the standard HTML. Having IE8 masquerade itself as Firefox might solve some of these problems except that IE8 still isn't standards-compliant enough to render everything that would then be given to it.

I wonder if that "eating your own dog food" quote is still as popular in Redmond as it used to be?

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Boffin

IE8 and rendering

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the problem with sites failing to render is mostly down to those sites looking at the browser agent string and using a more standard-compliant layout for non-IE browsers, and using a IE-mode for browsers that send the internet explorer agent string.

If this were the case, Microsoft could solve a lot of the problems by sending the user agent string for another browser (e.g. gecko/netscape). Wouldn't that be ironic?

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Why IE?

Because the folks in corporate IT insist on outsourcing _everything_ to places that couldn't do a static page to save their lives, even if it's just the HR department's Holiday Schedule. Javascript? You wish. ActiveX all the way baby, if you want to check your paystub, put in for time off, apply for a job within the company, get design documents for Linux-based products (I kid you not), or claim reimbursement for the company mandated trip. Oh, yeah, and the ISO-9000 courseware. Oh dear lord _NO_!

The good news is that we all have a fair-to-middling chance of being unemployed by year end, and thus immune to "You must upgrade your browser to IE, and set all the security knobs to total web-slut to do your job. And when your PC gets pwned, IT _will_ blame you"

Almost looking forward to living under a bridge instead...

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Joke

Bucket? Did someone say Bucket?

I'll take one of them ... and a standard wafer thin mint too.

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g e
Silver badge

How about..?

Something a little like:

<?php

# ASP and its derivatives have been deprecated for the common good

# No I DIDNT take the time to check the syntax or $_SERVER keyname, LOL

# you get the bloody idea at least...

if(strpos($_SERVER['USER_AGENT'], 'MSIE')!==false) {

print'<div>You seem to be using Internet Explorer which is utter arse, why not try <a href="http://mozilla.org" target="_blank">Firefox</a> or <a href="http://opera.com" target="_blank">Opera<a/> instead?</div>

}

?>

Now if everyone did THAT, I bet M$ could make a real standards compliant browser VERY fast...

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Ben

No-one is getting it!

Sigh.

*I've coded my site to treat IE8 as IE7*

Well isn't that unhelpful. Maybe you should code your site to treat IE8 as a standards browser instead. Serve it the same page as Firefox and Opera.

*It's Microsoft's fault for building crappy browsers in the past*

Yes maybe it is, but it's also a webdev's fault for bad browser detection (see above). It's no better than software developers that used to hardcode DirectX versions into their programs (3dmark for instance), which then threw a wobbly when a newer version was released.

*Well I'll stick to Firefox, my website works fine with that'*

Yes your website might. But if the corporates can be persuade to start building or updating sites for IE8 in standards mode (rather than forcing IE8 to render as IE7 and below), then they will also be able to support Firefox and Opera and Safari without having to do anything. No more 'You cannot log onto Internet Banking because we use coding hacks for IE'

Result all around I think

I'm not a Microsoft fan in the least, and when Microsoft write crappy stuff people complain because they write crappy stuff - which is fair enough

But when Microsoft change their crappy stuff and write something that works *mostly* as everyone has been asking it should, people complain because it breaks all the previous sites that only worked with the crappy stuff!

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Anonymous Coward

oddly enough

It's the commercial sites, that have _had_ to have IE6/7 working that'll cause the most problems.

I've been using IE8 for a while and it's the kludges put in place to make older versions of IE work that seem to be causing the worst of the headaches.

On my own personal dev site, which I refused to add IE kludges into (apart from the XMLHttpRequest workaround) - IE8 works fine, exactly the same as Firefox and Opera.

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Jobs Horns

They dug their own hole

Serves them right for leaving IE to rot while the web settled down in its image. Now they want to change their image and the web doesn't fit anymore.

It seems that Firefox, Safari and Chrome have come out in recent years and people have made the effort to update their sites to work properly for them, so would it really be a bad idea for MS to have finished IE at version 7 and then introduced a new name? It would have just been IE8 but the marketing people could spin it as a brand new 'next generation browser' with a new UI and user agent string.

Also allow it to be installed alongside IE, even if in reality it's the same program running with a 'classic' skin and put in quirks mode, launched through the blue E icon. That should even allow the bookmarks and history to be shared if the user flips between browsers.

If switching to a new brand results in a different, more possitive mental atitude towards the new browser then why not? Is it really a logical reason making them keep IE, or do the marketing people not care about web standards and and just focus on brand awareness? Changing IE's name would surely be no more harmful than changing the name of Windows, which they've done 4 times now and the only reason Vista was a flop is because it was a dud, not because the name confused people.

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Coat

@AC re: People Stop Bitching

I suppose that this is possibly the BEST time to bitch, *before* M$ starts forcing IE8 down everyone's throats. With any luck, M$ will take notice and fix it first rather than wait until the release candidate becomes a live release.

I have always viewed pages that insist on a particular browser or OS with disgust, but I am not too keen on browsers that advertise themselves as standards compliant when they aren't. I can forgive an RC, but I can only forgive so much...

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Gates Horns

Errr...?

I'm with Dan Moore (third comment). I'm an Opera user and the MS and Barclays site, both of which I use regularly, work just fine without any buggering about with 'standards compliant' modes. How is it MS are finding this so difficult?

I'm a web and applications developer and my sites are always standards compliant (*disclaimer - for the most part: Might be the odd bug!) and they work in all browsers just fine although I confess I have not tried IE8 because I haven't had the time of late. Some of these sites are inherited ones which were coded for old versions of IE and event he bits I haven't changed do, for the most part, work. There must be a better solution than this uber-list surely?

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To those who do not understand

Pre-IE 8, IE did not follow standards. To get sites to work in IE, designers had to use lots and lots of very ugly hacks. One thing a page/site will do is "detect" the browser and give you an "IE butchered version that works" or a "standards complaint version".

The problem is that these sites are detecting IE 8, think it needs a bastardised version and serving that. IE 8, of course, chokes as what it gets is not standards compliant. If the sites did not detect IE 8 as 7 or earlier and served up a standards compliant page, there would be no problem.

The fault is two fold

1) Web masters not getting their browser detection correct

2) MS for not producing standards complaint browsers for far too long (most blame lies here).

What IE 8 should do is pick-up on the bastardised crap it gets sent back and automatically switch to compatibility mode.

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Hacks are not the issue

The people making the comments above saying the broken websites are probably at fault for having MSIE-specific hacks in them are not speaking from experience. I have a website which is fully standards compliant. It passes the W3C HTML validator with flying colours. The CSS does not contain any hacks of any kind and it passes the W3C CSS validator. It does not contain javascript, java, activex or flash. The site works perfectly in IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome. Using IE8 in its "standards" mode should be a breeze.

But it isn't. The DIV forming the right hand side of the page disappears in IE8, regardless of the window size. Resizing the window by a single pixel in any direction causes the missing DIV to reappear again. Moving the mouse over a table containing links causes IE8 to reformat the page and in doing so, half the table cells disappear. The site is unusable in IE8 unless the hack-free code has an IE8-specific hack added to it.

This is all with Release Candidate 1. It isn't my website that is broken. It is IE8 that is broken, more broken than IE7.

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