Oh No They Didn’t! Microsoft and Web Standards

Remember the big deal Microsoft made about how Internet Explorer 8 would finally be standards compliant. Aside from some odd stuff they were doing, it looked like they were actually putting in an effort to follow through with their promise, or at least something close to it.

Apparently, the a lot of of web pages will load in IE7 mode instead of standards mode. The Register has the full details.

This week, the promise was broken. It lasted less than six months. Now that Internet Explorer IE8 beta 2 is released, we know that many, if not most, pages viewed in IE8 will not be shown in standards mode by default. The dirty secret is buried deep down in the «Compatibility view» configuration panel, where the «Display intranet sites in Compatibility View» box is checked by default. Thus, by default, intranet pages are not viewed in standards mode.

So all intranet sites will be shown in non-standards mode. Then we have all the version targetting nonsense they’ve been planning.

Oh, and guess what happens whenever a page loads in standards mode? A little icon appears showing a broken page. When clicked, it forces the page into “IE7 compatibility” mode. So the browser tricks people into not using standards mode.

The picture shows a broken page. A broken page? Why is broken page icon shown next to standards-compliant pages? The idea, apparently, is to encourage users to escape standards-mode by clicking on the broken page. There’s a dastardly logic here: showing a broken page may make users wonder if they are seeing pages correctly. Authors are probably not too thrilled by having a broken page shown next to their pages, and the only way to avoid the icon is to not trigger standards mode. The message is clear: don’t use standards!

A broken page icon! Can you believe that?

Here I was thinking Microsoft was finally putting some effort into getting their act together in the browser department. Forget that. Microsoft, what is your problem? This rubbish will only hurt you, and the entire internet to boot, in the long run.