Microsoft has finally started talking publicly about the next release of its Internet Explorer Web browser, and expects to deliver the first beta for IE 8 in the first half of 2008.
The IE (Internet Explorer) development team is also pledging that while IE 8 will deliver advancements and enable Web developers, designers, and Internet Content Providers to develop across multiple platforms and versions and provide richer user experiences, it will not break the Web as happened with the current IE 7 due to the improvements it made to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment about the companys future plans for IE 7, particularly with regard to patches and updates, saying there was "nothing new to share at this time."
In a move the development team is citing as a milestone on its blog, it says that IE 8 in standards mode now correctly renders the "Acid2 Browser Test," which determines how well a browser works with several different Web standards.
"Showing the Acid2 page correctly is a good indication of being standards compliant, but Acid2 itself isnt a web standard or a web standards compliance test. The publisher of the test, the Web Standards Project, is an advocacy group, not a web standards defining body," Dean Hachamovitch, the general manager for the Internet Explorer team, said in the blog post.
To read about the controversy over Outlook 2007 not using the same standards as IE 7, click here.
While acknowledging the many kinds of Web standards, ranging from true industry standards to de facto standards, open standards, and others, Hachamovitch said the key goal was interoperability, so developers did not have to write the same site multiple times for different browsers.
"With respect to standards and interoperability, our goal in developing Internet Explorer 8 is to support the right set of standards with excellent implementations and do so without breaking the existing web ... We must deliver improved standards support and backwards compatibility so that IE8 continues to work with the billions of pages on the web today that already work in IE 6 and IE 7 and makes the development of the next billion pages, in an interoperable way, much easier," he said.
Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at the NPD Group agrees, telling eWEEK that the IE 8 Acid2 test announcement is a big deal for Web developers as they will now have to spend less time tweaking their sites to work in multiple browsers.
While acknowledging that Acid2 "isnt the be-all and end-all test of compliance to Web standards, in fact some of its tests arent even finalized yet," Swenson said it was a good test suite to check browsers test for compliance to some major, modern standards.
Page 2: Internet Explorer 8 Beta Due in Mid-2008