As part of its drive to have as many Websites compatible with Internet Explorer 8 as possible, Microsoft in a blog posting March 2 describes the thinking that went into how the browser chooses to render Websites. For some sites, IE 8 needs a feature known as Compatibility View to render all elements properly. The current list of those sites is something that Microsoft has been working to reduce for some time.
"There are billions of pages written specifically for either Quirks, IE 7, Almost Standards, or the latest Standards," Marc Silbey, Internet Explorer program manager, wrote in that March 2 official blog posting. "IE needs to support all of these web platform variations to ensure that our broad, world-wide, user-base has the best experience." High-volume sites such as Amazon.com apparently write for Quirks out of a need to render in a wide number of browsers.
The issue is that, of all those billions of pages written specifically for those standards, a relatively small percentage render in IE 8 standards. Specifically, according to the pie chart that accompanies the blog posting, some 19 percent of high-traffic Websites currently render in IE 8 standards, while 41 percent render in "IE 8 almost standards," some 14 percent in "IE 7 standards" and 26 percent in Quirks.
As described by Silbey, Microsoft engineers worked on IE 8 in accordance with a handful of fundamental principles: that Websites should render "in the most standards compliant way by default," that users would want the Web to "just work" with the browser, and that Web developers "are in control of how their content renders" and need tools and time to transition to IE 8 standards.
With those in mind, Silbey offered a diagram of "how IE handles doctype, X-UA-Compatible meta tag and header, Developer Tools, and Compatibility View Settings," which can be found here along with accompanying notes.
"Compatibility and interoperability are complex," Silbey said. "To reduce complexity for developers and users alike, we would love to see websites transition from legacy browser modes. We respect that the choice of mode is up to the site developer. We're excited to work with sites and standards bodies to continue improving IE's implementation of interoperable standards."
The number of Websites that require IE 8's compatibility has apparently declined from 3,100 to more than 2,000 in the last 12 months, according to Microsoft.