Microsoft Hopes IE 8 Will Ease Doubts About Interop Commitment

The way to staying open and following a clear path is to keep the user in control, company official says.

LAS VEGAS-Microsoft is hoping customers and developers will accept the release of the Internet Explorer 8 beta as concrete evidence of its commitment to the recently announced new interoperability principles.

Microsoft rolled out a set of four new interoperability principles Feb. 21 that it said would ensure open connections, promote data portability, enhance support for industry standards, and foster more open interaction with customers and the industry.

The company has also denied that it was pressured to increase the openness of its high-volume products. While Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, acknowledged that many people were skeptical of the move, he said the company was confident that people would look at its actions as well as its words.

Now Microsoft is hoping they will do just that with IE 8. One Microsoft official after another here at MIX08 pointed to the just released first beta for Internet Explorer 8, the next version of its Web browser, as evidence of that commitment, even glossing over the security advances the new browser would bring so as not to detract from that message.

"While there are security improvements in Internet Exchange 8 beta one, and there will be more going forward, we want people to know about the big shift we are making to prioritize standards," Matt Lapsen, the director of Internet Explorer product management, told eWEEK at the MIX08 show here.

With regard to criticisms of its embrace of standards in IE 8, especially after it emerged that Microsoft had written a new layout component for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Lapsen said there was no definitive CSS test suite, and its rewrite of the layout component had been designed to help move that forward.

"We have written it and are asking for feedback on it. We're trying to help move standards forward, in an open way, and we are trying to give our users what they need and want," Lapsen said.

The new layout engine, WebSlices and Activities functionality found in IE 8 were also all developed in response to user feedback and ensured that the new browser was delivering features that no other browser did, he said.