Internet Explorer 8 announced, passes the Acid2 test

A couple of weeks ago, after a long time of silence on what will come after Internet Explorer 7, it was revealed on the IEBlog that the next version of Microsoft’s web browser will be Internet Explorer 8. The name isn’t too much of a surprise I’d say, but it’s good to find out that the IE team still exists and are still working on IE.

But a couple of days ago much more significant news came from the same source: internal builds of IE 8 now pass the Acid2 test. The significance of the Acid2 test may not be obvious to everyone, but in practice this means that IE 8 will support display:table and generated content, among other things.

I know that I sometimes complain about IE. I also think I have the right to do so, since over the years I have spent countless hours working around bugs in IE. But I think this is great news. Fantastic. Beyond what I had hoped. Thanks for continuing to work on improving standards support in IE. I hope you can deliver something that is at least as good as the competition with IE 8.

Now where’s the Mac version?

IE is the only major browser that is only available on a single platform. If Apple, Mozilla, and Opera can all make their web browsers available on multiple platforms, why can’t (or won’t) Microsoft?

Or should we be happy that it is only available for Windows? Perhaps if IE was available for multiple platforms we would be seeing more sites that tell us that we have to install IE before they will let us in? I know a lot of developers who are locked into using only Microsoft technology would love that.

Posted on December 21, 2007 in Browsers, Web Standards

Comments

  1. The problem is that Internet Explorer is accomplishing what other browsers have been doing for years. Once the IE team starts implementing standards on time, then I’ll start making note.

  2. MS didn’t handle the release of IE7 well, the following two situations occured:

    • A real copy of Windows is required to update. This caused many Windows users to stay with IE6.

    • No official way to have both IE6 and IE7 on the same computer. This caused developers to write their own hacked stand-alone versions. IE team was very lame on the subject.

    Those two situations led to one shared thought between developers and users: MS stinks! They also choosed not to release IE7 on win2k. Some statitistics services, W3schools for example, shows there are more IE5.*-users than linux users. Even Mac users.

    Really great news that IE8 passed the Acid2 test. But I am more interested in seeing what they have learned from the IE7 release. Doing these mistakes again will make both IE5.*, IE6 and IE7 hang around way longer than we all find healthy. Do we really need that many IEs to debug?

  3. The problem is that Internet Explorer is accomplishing what other browsers have been doing for years. Once the IE team starts implementing standards on time, then I’ll start making note.

    Heh. Firefox 2 doesn’t pass the acid2 test at all. Opera and Safari don’t either.

  4. Win! :)

    Eric Meyer’s recent comments about Opera’s (mis-timed?) slamming of IE - wisely suggests that such actions might stall IE’s future development (maybe even IE8 itself)…so I won’t be getting too excited about things just yet. Anything that pushes IE8 in the right direction would be excellent though.

    Anders: Your comment about the IE7 launch (regarding IE6/IE7 dual-use support) is good…I’m hopeful MS have learned something from that experience, and I expect IE8 to be mostly based on a modified version of IE7 - which would keep new hacks to a minimum. Well, ideally! ;)

  5. It’s great news! Simple and plain.

    Regarding the fact that a genuine copy of Windows was required to run IE7, it is really too much to ask of people to actually buy their operating system? I don’t think so, and I can’t blame MS for making their products work in original versions only.

  6. Let’s just hope that when IE8 is released, it wont be forced onto Windows users any more , then we wont need to worry about the browsers dominance quite so much!

  7. As for IE on the Mac, I wouldn’t wish IE (of any version) on any one. A pox on your house for even suggesting the pestilential return of IE to the Mac.

    I can only hope that Microsoft does not think that passing the Acid2 test is all they must do to mollify designers. Their affection for standards in the past has been so woe-begotten as to render them pariahs in my eye.

    Most importantly, IE 7 was supposed to be such a god-sent thing and yet it lacks and fails in many of the old ways despite 6 years. Will 8 be quicker off the mark and will it deliver in toto?

  8. Wolf,

    I do believe that Opera and Safari both pass the Acid2 test. I’m not sure if the current build of Firefox 3 does or not but it was on their drawing board.

  9. IE on Mac again? Hmm. If it has the same rendering engine, so I don’t have yet another rendering engine to test, then fine. Can’t see anyone clamouring for it though.

    @Anders Ytterström:

    No official way to have both IE6 and IE7 on the same computer… IE team was very lame on the subject.

    Microsoft made Virtual PC free, and released a free disk image with IE 6 on it. Granted, the free Virtual PC only worked on XP Pro, and the IE 6 disk image expires around now, but it is/was an official way to have both.

    @Wolf:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2005/11/02/safari-wins-the-acid2-race

    http://weblog.timaltman.com/node/832

  10. Thomas,

    Firefox 3 DOES pass the Acid2 test, coming in third behind Opera and Safari (or fourth if you even consider Konqueror). That said, it was very interesting to see the announcement of IE8 passing the Acid2 test on the day that a server misconfiguration broke the test. The test MS did was before the breakage, but it was still amusing.

    Now that we’ve seen MS can pass Acid2, what other features does everyone else hope for? My personal wish list: opacity (without a filter!), border-radius, outline, add/removeEventListener, DOMContentLoaded, at least some aspect of SVG, proper JavaScript text selection/ranges, conditional comments inside CSS files, and the ability to mark DOM elements as cacheable (I know this is not part of any standard, but I think it would be a good innovation — why should a Web browser have to re-derive navigation, header and footer elements that never change on every page load?).

  11. December 21, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Brian M:

    The problem is that Internet Explorer is accomplishing what other browsers have been doing for years.

    Yes, that definitely is a problem. But it’s good to see them at least trying to catch up.

    Ian:

    Let’s just hope that when IE8 is released, it wont be forced onto Windows users any more , then we wont need to worry about the browsers dominance quite so much!

    Giving Windows users a choice would be great, definitely.

    Chris:

    As for IE on the Mac, I wouldn’t wish IE (of any version) on any one. A pox on your house for even suggesting the pestilential return of IE to the Mac.

    It’s not that I really want a Mac version, I just thought I’d throw the question out there to see if anyone would come up with a good explanation of why there won’t be one. I would be very, very surprised if Microsoft brings IE back to the Mac, but you should never say never.

    Most importantly, IE 7 was supposed to be such a god-sent thing and yet it lacks and fails in many of the old ways despite 6 years. Will 8 be quicker off the mark and will it deliver in toto?

    Agreed, IE 7 was a huge disappointment. I really hope IE 8 delivers by fully catching up to (or surpassing) other browsers.

    pauldwaite:

    IE on Mac again? Hmm. If it has the same rendering engine, so I don’t have yet another rendering engine to test, then fine.

    Yeah, it had better have the same rendering engine!

  12. Well, it’s good to see that they work on IE 8 and that they’re making progress. However, I can’t see why everyone seem to be ecstatic about passing the Acid Test. It’s just one things of many, and as read in other places, there’s a minor fear that IE is hacked so hard just to do it for PR purposes, and the implications this might have on other parts is scary.

    Besides, if IE 8 is released in a year or so, imagine where other web browsers will be by then. Microsoft has to set the pace with IE 8 and be first, otherwise they will constantly be behind the market. i.e. a web browser that everyone thinks that it sucks.

  13. I ran Acid on the latest official versions of Opera and Webkit and I didn’t see a smiley happy face.

    I don’t know why people believe these browsers do pass the Acid test because they don’t.

  14. IE8 fully catching up or surpassing? I envy your optimism :) Will it even support XHTML (not that I care much about XHTML)?

  15. I look at IE’s absence on the Mac as damage control. IE is buggy and frustrating enough on one platform, do I really need it on another? Will I have to include ANOTHER IE version specific stylesheet? No thanks. I’ll take Safari & FF over IE any day.

  16. Wolf, On the Acid2 page you will see a bug was introduced a few days ago causing browsers to fail Acid2. Opera, Safari and Firefox3 all pass Acid2.

    Remember folks. Acid2 does not mean a good standards compliant browser. It means it handled invalid markup properly. And this is an in-house version. Will this version of IE8 make it to Release? We don’t know. And how much better support for standards overall did IE8 improve? We don’t know.

    But this does not mean DOM support improved. Or any SVG support. Or XHTML support (there is none). etc. etc. etc.

  17. Robert Nyman

    Well, it’s good to see that they work on IE 8 and that they’re making progress. However, I can’t see why everyone seem to be ecstatic about passing the Acid Test.

    I think that people are just seeing it as a glimmer of hope. I think people realize that making a good browser includes worlds more than just passing Acid2, but I see it as a gesture of good will that the IE team has spent time on it. I’m hopeful that they’ll make good in a number of other areas.

    I see this announcement as a commitment to finally do the right thing with this release. You mentioned that that the team may have hacked it in as a marketing ploy (entirely possible,) but they must realize how ill-advised that would be. The general public doesn’t know or care what the Acid2 test is, and web developers would quickly realize what happened.

  18. If they did bring back IE for Mac back, I think that the only people that would use it would be developers and then there are other online alternatives and Parallels available, so I doubt that the take up would be that high. Though of course it does seem that there are moves towards OS X eventually running Windows apps natively, so there might be no need version to have a separate in the long run.

    Of course as we’re heading towards a future of standards compliant browsers there will be no more need for browser testing.

  19. Damn, my wild optimism tags were stripped from the last sentence of my comment. Just pretend they are there folks.

  20. IE relies heavily on COM objects, which are not directly part of the browser. The entire DOM is done through COM objects (not JScript objects), same with XHR, XML handling, XSLT etc. Because of this it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see IE return to the Mac.

    And frankly, I think that’s just fine.

  21. pauldwaite:

    Sorry for not being clear enugh. What I meant was that MS / IEteam was late to respond to the problem, and didn’t came up with the best solution. They came up with the solutions necessary, but it took a while and wasn’t really that easy and good as a pure, stand-alone installation of IE7 or ie6 would have been.

  22. One reason other browsers have been successful is maximizing their revenue from advertising. Just think if Microsoft maximized their advertisint revenue by releasing IE on other platforms. Its a different angle, but definitely helps improve their presence and revenue.

  23. Interestingly, that hasLayout thing will probably not be part of IE8. FWIK, many related bugs might disappear too. See:

    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2007Dec/0151.html

    JJS.

  24. December 21, 2007 by Hernán Beati

    Hi,

    Anders says: “…A real copy of Windows is required to update. This caused many Windows users to stay with IE6.”

    It’s false. Since october 2007, you can freely download and install IE7 even if your Windows copy is illegal, cracked, etc.

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/default.mspx

    Hernán Beati

    SaberWeb

  25. December 21, 2007 by Matthew Smith

    Is IE7 really that bad? I use it all the time at home, never had any problems. FF was crashing all the time on me. Any chance that this gets released with Vista SP1?

  26. December 21, 2007 by Matthew Smith

    .. disregarding standards support, of course!

  27. I’m of the feeling that any step forward is a positive… give me an IE8 I can work with, a fast migration from 7 to 8, and I will be a much happier developer.

    To those people who would simply bark at Microsoft for every single thing (negative and positive) don’t forget that you get a lot further with a smile and some praise where it is due. How hard is it to just smile and say great - where from here guys?

    I just don’t get that anti-microsoft stuff anymore - mac fanboy stuff aside. Let’s lobby for more browsers to be included in Windows releases, better support for standards and mac versions of IE 8. But just saying Microsoft is evil is not going to achieve much.

    How does the song go… “accentuate the positive”.

  28. Steven Clark said:

    I’m of the feeling that any step forward is a positive…

    Of course it is. However, Microsoft have delivered too little too late for too long, so while we can smile whenever they indicate that they are on a positive track, it is hard to believe that they will actually deliver much of substance before we have gotten our hands on it and seen what it is worth.

    I’m afraid that although IE8 may deliver (more or less) what we want, especially IE6 will be around for a while. The indication for that is the prolonged support of OSes like win2K, which is one of the standard systems in many large businesses. IE7 doesn’t work on win2K, and IE8 probably won’t either. Add to that that one of Microsoft’s aims is to assure backwards-compatibility and support for their bigger clients - giving them plenty of time to upgrade, and the near future (the next few years) may not look so good from a web designer’s point of view, even if IE8 proves to be “just fine” when it finally arrives.

  29. 16:

    Wolf, On the Acid2 page you will see a bug was introduced a few days ago causing browsers to fail Acid2. Opera, Safari and Firefox3 all pass Acid2. Remember folks. Acid2 does not mean a good standards compliant browser. It means it handled invalid markup properly. And this is an in-house version. Will this version of IE8 make it to Release? We don’t know. And how much better support for standards overall did IE8 improve? We don’t know. But this does not mean DOM support improved. Or any SVG support. Or XHTML support (there is none). etc. etc. etc.

    This man speaks the truth! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  30. Thanks Rob.

  31. Man, you are optimistic, Roger!

    Surpassing the other browsers would not only mean passing Acid 2, but implementing most of the following:

    • Opacity
    • CSS 3 color
    • CSS 3 selectors
    • Media queries
    • Border-radius, experimentally at least
    • DOM 2 and 3, including events
    • XPath
    • XHTML
    • E4X
    • JavaScript 1.8 (or even Ecmascript 4)
    • Web Forms 2
    • Canvas
    • SVG
    • Math ML
    • Etc

    Now, MSIE is showing some signs of catching up, but surpassing the rest? I doubt it. Not in v.8 at least.

  32. December 25, 2007 by dbrimlow

    I think I’ll just keep the ol’ conditional comment space warm - IE 6 and 7 will welcome the company. I wouldn’t believe MS if they said the world was round.

  33. Come on people! Why all the negativity???

    Just when Microsoft goes and do something good (maybe even great), people are still mad at them?

    It makes no sense to me at all - It’s not like Microsoft couldn’t just lean back and not care at all; they could, and some would say they did for six years, but here they are, working on improving a product people (web developers) have been complaining about for years, and we are still not happy…

    Let’s just embody the spirit of the holidays and enjoy this step forward?

  34. December 25, 2007 by Daniel S

    What bothers me is that Microsoft only really talks about the style system in Internet Explorer. This is very important, of course, but there are other important parts as well.

    Will the DOM/JavaScript implementation get fixes as well? Will the parser made forward compatible with HTML 5? Any sights of SVG/MathML?

  35. Internet Explorer 6.0 will get stuck in peoples computers because noone or very few pusers will update to the newer versions as it is controlled by licencing and microsoft would not let you upgrade if you dont pay!

    I think this will harm the problem that people who uses Internet Explorer 6 will not upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 nor 8.

    Developers will get stuck or actually not keep a lot of attention to Microsofts try to keep up to the better software browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and friends…

  36. December 27, 2007 by Daniel S

    Actually Microsoft recently relased an installer for Internet Explorer 7 that doesn’t check for a legal system, so anyone can upgrade their home system.

  37. You know, I’m so hooked on Firefox with all their extensions and such, that it really doesn’t matter to me if IE passes the Acid test.

    Firefox is an incredible browser and I can’t wait until v3.0.

  38. #24:

    Yes, but that’s still a year late. If Microsoft had done it this way from day one, I believe more machines would have IE7 installed as we speak. Not to mention it would have looked much better and less “we announce ie7, but what the heck, stay with ie6 if you want, we don’t care”.

    I want IE8 for Win2k and older versions of Windows as well, as these computers outnumbers macs and linux-machines. It could save us from ie5.X and ie6 a bit. Who is with me? :)

    (sorry for being off-topic)

  39. Guys,

    IE8 DOES NOT PASS ACID2.

    Microsoft never claims this from what I’ve read. They only say they render the smiley face but never say they pass the test.

    The real truth is that the Acid2 test page must be modified to accomodate IE8 to switch modes. Kind of like altering tests to let the disadvantaged get higher scores.

    If we are allowing alterations to the Acid2 test to pass, then let’s see what Opera and Firefox can come up with. Of course, they pass the test without alterations.

  40. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Microsoft always make lots of big promises but don’t deliver on half of them. Remember all the promises they made with Vista, long ago in the old days? Sheesh, back then I was a nipper and it was called Longhorn.

    I won’t hold my breath.

  41. I have to agree with kimblimm here, regarding comment #33.

    As soon as Microsoft announces something relatively good, the community is way too quick at bashing on them. I guess I can see why people would be a little mad at MS for not caring about web standards for so long. Historically, the big companies have always been the slowest ones to change direction (or make big decisions). I mean, simply think of all the legacy code that they have to deal with. My company is only about 15 years old and we have legacy code that just kills us. It’s just really hard to re-do things from scratch in those cases.

    As for IE on MAC, I seem to be the only one to remember that IE5 used the glorious layout engine from Tantek Çelik and his brilliant team. They were the first to correctly support CSS and HTML at the time. Now the mistake was to not continue in that direction with the following IE engines… and to drop IE5 in the end… Arg, they are frustrating sometimes! :)

    Anyways, great post and thanks for letting me know. That news just hadn’t made its way to my inbox somehow.

  42. .7 - Pox, woe-begotten, pariahs?

    Standards don’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better, so that the mass can understand them.

    I think MS is working harder on their browser than you are with your vernacular.

    Are you from the 1600’s?

  43. That is some real news for the web developer community, now my only wish is that it should be backward compatible. What I meant is that it should still work with all those hacks we wrote for the previous version of this browser. I really don’t want to get down to fix up or write a new style for IE-8!

  44. March 13, 2008 by Amberely

    i love battery acid its good

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