Microsoft: ‘We Feel a Strong Obligation to Customers with IE8′

What are the main things you want to achieve with Internet Explorer 8?

Our goals are to create a faster, easier web browsing experience for the things users do every day on the web. We provide features that allow users to reach beyond the page and bring the variety of online services to life and deliver the most secure and reliable version of Internet Explorer to date.

How far through IE8’s development are you? When can we expect it to be officially released?

As we have always said, our timeline is driven by the quality of the product. We feel a strong obligation to our customers to ensure they are getting the safest, most reliable product possible. Microsoft will continue to gather feedback from both developers and customers throughout Beta 2. Additional builds will be based on the feedback received during the process. I can tell you that the release of IE8 is not dependent on any future release of Windows.

Why was there a gap of over five years between IE6 and IE7?

Hundreds of millions of people use Internet Explorer every day for critical tasks. We are deliberate in our approach to releasing new products and do so in a responsible manner that helps ensure that the next version of Internet Explorer is safe and reliable. Given the set of advances we made in IE7, we took the right amount of time to deliver quality.

Has it been a mistake not to tackle web standards compliancy until now?

It’s easy to forget that earlier versions of Internet Explorer led the charge towards standards compliancy. We are demonstrating our continuing commitment to interoperability and standards by releasing IE8 with Standards mode as the default rendering mode. We want to deliver a big step forward in real-world interoperability for developers – driving towards the ideal of ‘write once, run anywhere’ – and standards support is at the core of our approach. Short-term, we understand this creates a call to action to site owners to ensure their sites are compatible with IE8. As such, we’ve made it very easy for developers to update their websites and applications to render in IE8 the same way they did in IE7, without requiring any core code changes. Long-term, we believe this is the right way to help move the web forward.

Is there the risk that IE8’s standards compliancy won’t make a difference to most users’ experience as it rests on web developers including X-UA-Compatible header tags?

By default, the X-UA-Compatible header is only required to opt out of Standards mode. Compatibility problems often lead customers not to install new versions so, for us to help move the web forward, it’s critical to deliver a browser that is both standards compliant and compatible – either automatically or via workaround – with the billions of web pages already in existence. If browsing your site in IE8 Standards mode affects the user experience of the site, and the compatibility tags are not applied or the site is not updated with standards-compliant content, users would need to opt-in to IE7 Compatibility mode within the browser to view your site as intended. In Beta 1, this is accomplished using the Emulate IE7 button.

Do web browsers influence the way people use the internet, or does the way people use the internet influence web browsers?

It absolutely works both ways. As we set out to develop the next version of the browser, one principle we followed was that in order to make a better browser for people who use the web, we should make the browser better for the people who build the web.


Oliver Hurley

James Pratt, Internet Explorer

Further reading:

Browser Wars

Do you think it’s too late for IE to tackle web standards compliancy? Let us know what you think…

Sam Allen

A strategic thinker who ensures that Zeta and all of our clients keep striving forward. A marketing expert addicted to all things digital.

  • PatShelby

    I usually don’t post on Blogs but ya forced me to, great info.. excellent! … I’ll add a backlink and bookmark your site.

  • Martin Elstone

    A very interesting interview. One can’t expect anything but positive remarks from a Microsoft guy but I do see his point on compliancy to some degree. Whilst it is fair to say Microsoft has left the issue on the back stove for to long they have also been one of the main drivers behind the rise of the internet that we all take for granted today. No doubt there will be comments disgreeing with me on that point?