Monday, March 24, 2008

IE8 Follows Web Standards, Firefox Wins

Developers of Microsoft Internet Explorer just posted that they "decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way". First thing came to my mind is, that's a good thing for Firefox (and all alternative web browsers). How is one browser following web standards is good for its competitors? It will force web developers to follow such standards, thus increasing the number of sites/apps who will run fine under all browsers and ease the switch of novice web surfers away from Internet Explorer.

Why leave IE? For many reasons. I will talk about that in a different post.

Currently, many website developers (especially those developing "web-based solutions" to companies) only test their creations with IE version 6. It makes sense to them because they don't have to run Firefox, IE, Opera, and Konqueror and test their websites on them every time they make changes to the code. Also, since IE only works in Windows OS, developers write less code for OS interactions and file reads/writes.

These kinds of IE-specific "Web Applications" appear in so many popular websites, Due to the dominance of IE. Roughly, 80% of all web surfers use IE and 15% use Firefox. In other words, around 15% of visitors use standards-compliant browsers and will not be able to use this web application. The remaining 80% are using the web application (and clicking on adds). Is it worth it to spend the money to change the website? The answer I believe is "not yet."

This is about to change. IE8 will be standards-compliant by default and will have a button to optionally render websites in IE6 engine. What this means is as soon as IE8 shows up in Windows Update, most of those 80% will convert to a standards-compliant browser and thus will not be able to use the same old web app, forcing website to join in on the standards and finally fix their sites for everyone, including Firefox users.

I found an amazing (and very long) article about standards. Check it out here.

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