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8 + 2 = ☺

December 19, 2007

Okay, I lied. One more for 2007, but only because this is an early Christmas present from Microsoft, and when was the last time you got one of those?

Acid2 + IE8 = Smily Face

Internet Explorer 8 passes Acid2.

For as much crap as I’ve given the IE team over the years, I have to say I’m really happy with the path they’re on after reading this today. Rendering the Acid2 test correctly is a huge leap forward (“IE8 Standards Mode” or not).

Last year, IE7 wasn’t nearly the big expansive update I’d have hoped, but the improvements they made hit all the right notes for me at the time. They seemed genuinely concerned about the problems that made our lives harder, and took steps to correct them. And testing against IE7 has been more good than bad; it’s rare to get something working in Firefox and Safari that blows up in IE7. At most a few glitches here and there have required a bit of fixing, but nothing that has sucked away an entire afternoon like certain other past versions. (Now if they could just make IE6 go away once and for all, then we’d really be on to something…)

Using the past updates as a starting point and extrapolating, I’ve been cautiously optimistic that IE8 would deliver much more of the same. The lack of news hadn’t really been bugging me until I realized a few months ago that, oh yeah, they have been pretty silent lately haven’t they? No doubt last week’s legal proceedings have something to do with the timing, but today I think we’re seeing the first signs of what I’d been hoping, and the associated video suggests there’s more to be revealed.

Obviously Acid2 is just one test, and there are other technologies that will become more and more relevant in the coming years. HTML5, CSS3, and SVG come to mind. But for the first reveal of what we can expect from the new browser, this is a welcome start.

Scott says:
December 19, 15h

Indeed an excellent Christmas present. Now if only we could get 100% user adoption of IE8 more or less right out of the gates…

December 19, 15h

With what I’ve seen usually happen, by the time IE8 comes out, I think we can expect there being an “Acid 3” test (that uses HTML5, CSS3, etc), that it most likely will not pass..

Dimitry says:
December 19, 16h

Richard: Firefox 2 doesn’t pass Acid2 test, Firefox 3 does (or supposed to). I’m sure Firefox 3 won’t pass Acid3 for a while either. Also I think the main point here is that IE team actually cares about those tests (at last!).

I can’t wait for IE6 support to be cut by MS (most likely right around the time IE8 comes out for good).

John says:
December 19, 17h

Wow, this is probably the best gift I’ll get this year. And from microsoft of all people. I agree with Richard though, I’m sure IE8 will butcher and molest HTML 5 and CSS 3. If it doesn’t I’ll be shocked.

Jeff says:
December 19, 18h

@John: I don’t think that’s what Richard is suggesting at all. I think we should give Microsoft some credit for doing the right thing with IE8. Let’s hope we hear more good news in the coming months prior to the Beta.

Gilbert says:
December 19, 23h

@scott “100% user adoption of IE8 more or less right out of the gates…”

That’d be fantastic, so we need to understand where the blocks to people upgrading from IE6 come from.

I’ve seen comments saying that IE7 renders slower than IE6 and that IT departments block it as an automatic upgrade.

We’ll need to make users aware of IE8 when it arrives so that the pressure to upgrade exists or choose a different browser if they like.

I’d recommend watching the video, it gives some good insights into what they’re up against.

December 20, 02h

This is indeed great news. As alluded to above, if the latest versions of all popular browsers pass Acid2, I think it’s time to start making Acid3. The next versions need something to aim for.

Ole says:
December 20, 03h

Firefox 3b2 doesn’t pass it(Acid 2) yet. Now if Microsoft could follow standards elsewhere too, developers can look towards the future with a smile on their face.

Next step might be to standardize Javascript, tho this might happen if Tamarin gets finished and is a proper option.

December 20, 06h

I’ve been hearing mixed comments about this everywhere. People are either ecstatic or extremely skeptical. For those of us who’ve been creating websites since the IE vs. Netscape days, it’s obvious that any move MS makes toward interoperability is worth celebrating. In short, enough with the bah humbugs already.

December 20, 06h

@Richard Acosta:

Ian “Hixie” Hickson (who wrote the Acid 2) test has stated that Acid 3 will likely test DOM primarily (as HTML 5 and CSS 2.1 both have/will have their own exhaustive test-suites, and there’s little reason to not leave them to themselves). The current Acid 3 draft is failed by everything, but is likely to be changed quite a lot (likely making it harder to pass).

For those who are saying Acid 2 doesn’t work, the WaSP site is broken. Hixie’s own copy at works fine, though.

Changing the final segment to 003/ shows the current draft of Acid 3 — but read what it says — it is far from finished and has bugs.

December 20, 07h

I think it’s way too soon to move on to an Acid3. I’m extremely skeptical that HTML5 and CSS3 will be adopted within a forseeable timeline; as set of standards, we as web developers have no idea how well HTML4.01/CSS/javascript work because we’ve never had to exercise them to their fullest extent in a production environment.

I get the sense that many aspects of HTML5 and (particularly) Javascript 2.0 are solutions in search of a problem. I’m with Douglas Crockford: keep the web platform as stable as possible, change the development standard as little as possible. New solutions aren’t always better than old solutions.

December 20, 07h

@Nick Husher:

A lot of HTML5 is already implemented: is supported in all major browsers except IE; and are in dev copies of WebKit and Opera, and there are patches for Fx; client-side storage is in WebKit and Gecko…

December 20, 10h

My question is: Will IE8 be available for Windows XP? 2000? XP Media Center…
I’m not looking to upgrade to Vista any time soon and I know a lot of people that won’t either, so if IE8 only works in Vista, then what good is it?
Maybe they answered that in the video… I didn’t watch all of it.

December 20, 13h

@Stan Grabowski:

I would *expect* IE8 to be made available for XP as well, because a “forced upgrade” to Vista would not go down well… But maybe I’m naive.

December 20, 16h

As someone who is just getting in to web design, I am hoping that IE8 will mean I never have to test for IE6. Of course it doesn’t.

December 21, 14h

@Jason Beaird:
“In short, enough with the bah humbugs already.”
Hear hear! I think this is fantastic news and the folks on the IE project need to be commended for what must have been a tremendous amount of work.
I think having Microsoft on the side of web standards is a great thing for the future of the web.

Martin says:
December 22, 04h

IE8 means only that there will be another software to test. Firefox 3, Firefox 2, Opera, IE6, IE7 and now IE8. They even won’t fit my sidebar.
ACID2 is nothing. There are other things like AJAX inconsistency and leaks. There are still huge differences and needed hacks.

December 22, 11h

Yay, I’d say this is a big step towards webstandards and better browsing technology from Microsoft — which is great!

I hope they continue their work equally.

Optimo says:
December 26, 21h

Honestly, just fix the box-model would be a great start. Anyone else get the feeling microsoft was just holding out on this, like their last hope?
Margins and padding and floats, oh my!

Cris says:
December 27, 13h

@Gilbert: “we need to understand where the blocks to people upgrading from IE6 come from.”

Excellent point. Within my own company, the major blocks appear to have been set up by ourselves – that is, by web developers. Organizations can become locked into specific browser versions in part due to bad practice.

It is important, as you suggest, to “make users aware of IE8,” but it continues to be even more important that we construct our web applications robustly, code to the standards, avoid hacks, and remind our colleagues that small differences in rendering are acceptable as long as an application remains fully usable.

xxdesmus says:
December 28, 06h

The good news is that as people buy a new computer they get IE7 by default now, and that will certainly help push IE6 down into the minority over time. Similar to what you mentioned, Microsoft would become my favorite company if they could figure out how to forcibly kill IE6 for those stragglers so that we can just stop worrying about that mess of a web browser.

Justin says:
January 04, 15h

I will be sad the day I don’t need to test in IE6. I look forward to seeing what kind of crazy bugs occur and having to fix them.

January 05, 06h

I cetrainly hope to see IE8 become the first ray of light in Microsoft attitude towards web standards support. If only they could stick to what they have been doing lately and keep supporting such things as CSS3 or SVG in their products the web world would have surely become a better place.

Michael says:
January 07, 04h

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Only because the Internet Explorer passes the Acid-Test, it doesn’t mean that it will have no bugs. But it is in deed a big step into the right direction.

Eric S. says:
January 07, 06h

I haven’t worked so far with IE7, so to hear that IE8 passes the Acid2 test is… a BIG surprise.

But IE6 is still used by around 30% of the users, so web developers and designers will have to deal with its poor compliance with web standards still for a while.

Stevie K says:
January 10, 08h

I think no matter how much badgering of people we do, IE6 will have a large percentage for some time. It will be a few years yet before we stop making allowances for IE6.

I say just sit back and enjoy watching that number slowly drop in your webstats over the coming years, as they say in that beer advert, good things come to those who wait.

Nothing wrong with badgering in the meantime if you want to see that number drop just that tiny bit faster, though.

January 10, 23h

I would love for Microsoft to mandate IE5/IE6 users to upgrade their browsers to the most current version when IE8 comes out. Sadly there will be a stretch of 4 different IE browsers to compromise our designing for.

Andrea says:
January 13, 06h

It seems to me that all this optimism about new IE8 is a bit of an ovestrech. Passing the Acid2 thest obiously doesn’t guarantee that the browser will be free of all the possible bugs. I certainly do hope something in Mircosoft’s web policy will change for the better at last but… well, I’ll believe when I see the bug-free IE8 released.

Jom says:
January 16, 04h

To Optimo:

Sorry if I disagree, but I don’t think the IE box model bug is a problem, but rather a more logical approach on how “real” boxes work.

If they don’t take away the bug in IE8, I’m pretty sure they would give it as an option to the Standard box model, like what they did in IE6(?) and IE7, but that’s just me.

Or, in some deus-ex-machina-kind of coincidence, Standards might adopt the IE box model, but that would be near impossible given the circumstances.

LiquidFire says:
January 26, 14h

@Ole: Firefox 3 beta 2 does pass Acid2. In fact, FF3 has been passing the test long before beta 1. (It also does relatively well on Acid3, even though the test itself is not yet complete)

However, the test was broken at one point due to the web server being misconfigured, so that might have misled you that it was Firefox not working, whereas Opera, Konqueror and Safari also “failed” the test at that time.

February 02, 06h

I’ve been dreaming about everyone having to say good riddance to IE6 for a long time now. Maybe the advent of 8 will bring this a little closer? There’s always hope.

Marcus Tinsley says:
February 02, 08h

We shall wait, we shall see how the new IE8 will present itself. So far it’s impossible to jump to any serious conclusions as Microsoft doesn’t reveal much about the browser’s new features. Currently the matter of doctype switch solution adopted by IE8 is raising much controversies, so I guess we should be rather cautious with formulating any optimistic expectation towards the new browser.

February 04, 06h

@Gilbert: “we need to understand where the blocks to people upgrading from IE6 come from.”

I have found a few blocks to upgrading in my office , where ie7 handles printing so much different from ie6 that we were forced to remove ie7 from any machine that needed to use the payroll software. Also many simple scripts that run off of cd behave differently under ie7 , so as someone else said its developers using bad practices that lead to contracts and products that force us into one browser.

Its kinda sad , but Firefox cant even use the software for the mailing label system, because it “prints differently” under Ie.

I don’t blame my users for not adopting new software , in many cases , the work they spend getting past the learning curve is enough for them to not even consider the upgrade.(Nudge nudge , vista training seminars nobody wanted to go to)

Sam M says:
February 04, 11h

I laugh when I remember one of my friends quotes. “Cross-Browser support is easy, just forget about IE6”.

I will be very excited when we no longer have to worry about IE6. Life will be much easier.

Kenton says:
February 08, 10h

It’s great to finally see some actual news about the next version of Internet Explorer. Hopefully, this is just the start of IE’s trend towards open standards compliance. As stated in the post, this is just a single test case, but it is surely a sign of progress and probably a significant internal milestone.

I look forward to seeing continued progress but still do not understand the unwillingness to talk more openly about anticipated features. I feel the development community would appreciate more transparency here even if the IE team is unable to deliver 100% on their goals. It would be more reassuring to hear about the teams expectations for the next release than to hear about improvements only once such milestones have been reached.

February 11, 15h

Great to see better standards support in IE8.

But, bare in mind that with IE8 defaulting to IE7 “standards” mode and the Acid2 test obviously not containing MicroSoft’s magical META tag to opt-out of IE7 mode to opt-in for better standards support, the public release of IE8 will NOT pass Acid2.

Of course Acid2 is not the ultimate test. But such twisted behavior is a prime example of MicroSoft’s wonderful solution for not breaking the web.

Wiimaster says:
February 13, 23h

I am really proud to say that my highly frequented wii community site DOES NOT WORK WITH IE6.

I got lot’s of afflictions from IE6 users - but I still resist.

Don’t go for that old MS crap any longer! And don’t accept any new crap besides from standards!

Mehdi says:
February 14, 19h

@Wiimaster et al:
“I am really proud to say that my highly frequented wii community site DOES NOT WORK WITH IE6.”

As much as I understand the frustrations with layout support and design discrepancies (I’m trying to get a site of my own up and running, and find myself facing a lot of issues with backward compatibility), there’s one thing that a lot of web designers seem to be forgetting:

The internet is about *content*.

A nice design and great layout is icing on the cake, but without the cake, icing is nothing but a big blob of processed sugar.

Seen from the other side: If I visit a site, the first thing I want is *content*. The second thing I want is to not have the site break (or my browser hang) over some JavaScript that hasn’t been debugged or upgraded to reflect the latest standards. The last thing I look for is what the site looks like.

Denying people readable and understandable contents simply because their browser doesn’t support your fancy layout is callous, superfluous, and short-sighted. Many people can’t upgrade, because their OS doesn’t support the new version. I use Firefox 2.0 and IE6, and even if I wanted to use IE7 I couldn’t, because I’m using Windows 2000 Pro.

I make high demands of my OS (multimedia, file editing, running server software and databases, and programming tools), so I don’t want XP Home (which can’t deal with half of the software I need), I can’t afford XP Pro, and I will not allow Vista to be even mentioned within my zip code (until at least 4 servicepacks have been issued and they’ve stopped hammering the DRM crap into the hardware support layer). I’m a Windows programmer, I do not have the time to learn Linux, and do not want a Mac. What am I to do?

There’s plenty of people out there that use their browser to find information, plain and simple. Explain to them they can’t, because their browser isn’t smart enough to *render your design*, even if it’s your contents - the reason your site exists in the first place - they need.

If your site has information, but you make it hard or impossible to read because you refuse to keep CSS-challenged visitors in mind, you’re throwing away the very backbone of what the World Wide Web is supposed to be about.

Remember? Contents.

March 06, 02h

The beta IE 8 is out now. Microsoft IE8 looks simply cool to me. Earlier it was available to selected Beta testers only.

You can download it from here:

Earered says:
March 08, 15h


Check the wiimaster website, then remove styles : it’s still usable, the content is available

I think that what wiimaster meant is that there is a point when supporting bad/old software doesn’t return value (as long as the site is usable in elinks, you are not removing contents from users)

Adriaan says:
March 15, 07h

When I first heard the wonderful news, I thougth WOW, this is almost too good to be true…so I went and downloaded the beta immediately…

Turns out, IE8 beta still sucks - it doesn’t display my valid xthml sites even closely as it should be displayed, and it’s extremely slow in handling things like :hover effects with images.

IMHO we’ve been abused enough by IE…and I just hope it rests in peace ;)

Gareth says:
June 15, 00h

IE8 Beta 2 coming out in August, those wanting to try the beta 2 have to wait till august. Meanwhile, hope they are able to iron out the bugs in beta 1.

Mike says:
August 12, 05h

I look at IE’s absence on the Mac as damage control. IE is buggy and frustrating enough on one platform, do I really need it on another? Will I have to include ANOTHER IE version specific stylesheet? No thanks. I’ll take Safari & FF over IE any day.

Jens says:
August 14, 05h

It’s not only an excellent christmas present – it is like christmas, eastern and birthday on one day. The Internet Explorer 8 is an magnificent follower of the Internet Explorer 7. So I agree completely with the author. I’m very happy, that Microsoft has updated the Internet Explorer 7 in the way how Internet Explorer 8 was launched on the market. There are so man things, that make surfing much easier than before. It is like a fresh breeze on the Waikiki beach, and like its surfing their too, of course. So I’m going to celebrate it still for some days, because nobody knows, when such presents come along for the next time…