What Do I Need to Know Now?

Windows Internet Explorer 8 is the most standards-compatible version Microsoft has ever released. For Version 8, the Windows Internet Explorer team focused on improving Web developers’ and Web designers’ productivity by reworking and enhancing its standards and interoperability. The team invested enormous effort in building a new formatting engine from the ground up that could offer full CSS 2.1 support, some HTML 5 capability, and a more interoperable Document Object Model (DOM). As a result, Windows Internet Explorer 8 can render Web pages, by default, using the new Standards Mode formatting engine.

The balance between interoperability (meeting W3C and other standards) and backward compatibility (for pages built to work within Windows Internet Explorer 6’s and Windows Internet Explorer 7’s behaviors) has always posed a challenge. On the one hand, there are literally billions of Web pages designed to render on previous browser versions, including many sites that are no longer actively managed. On the other hand, there is a concrete benefit to Web designers if all vendors give priority to interoperability among commonly accepted standards as they evolve. After weighing these very legitimate concerns, the Windows Internet Explorer team decided to give top priority to the latest Web standards. Now with integrated Developer Tools, Windows Internet Explorer 8 puts superior power in the hands of the Web author, eliminating the need for multiple tools to achieve the same results.

First Things First

The first thing to recognize is that Windows Internet Explorer 8 is highly compatible with today’s Web standards, even implementing some elements of HTML 5. That said, Web pages that rely on specific behavior in versions prior to Windows Internet Explorer 8 may not display correctly in Version 8’s default mode.

Preparing Your Site for Windows Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft’s Windows Internet Explorer team has made it easy for you to make your site compatible with Windows Internet Explorer 8’s default, standards-based view. This is the short-term fix. For permanent use, it’s recommended you use the version vector, in conditional comments, and make minor script changes if needed to ensure your site works well with Windows Internet Explorer 8’s new features and those of future versions.

For detailed information on preparing your site, see How Do I Fix My Site Today?

For more information, read the following documents.

Exciting New Features in Windows Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft’s Windows Internet Explorer 8 hosts many new features that allow you to showcase your site in ways not previously possible. The Accelerator tool lets you easily send context-specific information from one Web page to another. For example, a user can highlight an address on a Web page and send it directly to a mapping site, without having to copy and paste. Web Slice allows your users to get timed updates to your pages—increasing traffic to your site. Full CSS 2.1 compliance, with support for some CSS 3.0 features, allows developers to target published standards. Improved HTML support and DOM interoperability make the developer more productive. AJAX support has never been stronger, with support for better communication, navigation, and more. Finally, the enhanced Developer Tools allow you to debug script, HTML, and CSS without ever leaving the browser, including accessing different Windows Internet Explorer versions for testing legacy display.

For detailed information, see What's New in Internet Explorer 8.