Standards-based IE8 shows 'new Microsoft'

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Standards-based IE8 shows 'new Microsoft'

Microsoft has chosen a "standards-oriented future" with Internet Explorer 8 over a browser-dependent legacy, Garner reports..

However, by favouring the standards community, Microsoft risks alienating loyal enterprise developers.

The comments come after Microsoft released the first public beta of IE8 earlier this month.

"IE8 is an indicator of what some call 'the new Microsoft' which is more open and supportive of standards that it does not necessarily control," said Gartner analysts Ray Valdes and David Mitchell Smith.

"This change began with IE7, which was a big improvement over the previous version, whose bugs, inconsistencies and incomplete standards support frustrated developers and boosted the market share of Firefox, Opera and Safari.

"IE7 helped Microsoft make up ground lost in the five-year hiatus since the previous version, but IE7's improved support for standards resulted in 'broken' web pages for users.

"This occurred primarily within enterprises, where developers had built and maintained applications that were only tested with IE5.5 and IE6."

The analysts noted that IE8 offers improved performance, standards support and some "innovative user-oriented features" such as offline mode and " subscribable" web slices. However, they warned that the browser must straddle two worlds.

The first is the world of enterprise developers, most of whom are not aware of standards and just want their pages to work with the new browser, even though their pages may be incorrectly coded.

The second world is made up of non-enterprise web 2.0 developers who are largely progressive, standards-aware and technically adept.

"With IE8, Microsoft is trying to woo the web 2.0 world. IE8 will default to the standards mode, even though this will result in pages that don't display correctly for some enterprise applications," the advisory stated.

"Gartner believes it is significant that Microsoft is willing to take this risk and favour the standards-oriented community over traditional enterprise developers.

"While Microsoft has opted for standards first, it has made efforts to ease the pain for enterprises through multiple modes of operation, administrative capabilities and a range of ways to deal with existing content at the directory and individual page level."

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