Here comes Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 is Microsoft’s response to the growing interest in interactive web services and rich online experiences. This is Microsoft’s second attempt to build a browser that follows standard compliant HTML and CSS. So, will designers and developers embrace this new Internet Explorer?

Maybe. IE8 is becoming CSS 2.1 compliant. The beta release also fixes many of the browser inconsistencies and more closely supports the HTML 4.01 Specification. One notable change is the elimination of the problematic haslayout functionality.

IE8 departs from earlier versions in how it displays form controls. Chris Hester created a demo showing how various browsers handle form buttons.

Since beta releases can be buggy, it is probably too early to target IE8 with conditional comments. But, knowing your options will keep you ahead of the pack.

Two methods to work with differences found in IE8:

  1. Internet Explorer Conditional Comments.
  2. The Emulate IE7 Meta Tag.

1. Designers can use Conditional Comments to target Internet Explorer 8 with alternate content or CSS rules. The typical conditional comment to target IE8 is:

2. Microsoft introduced a new meta tag to control the display of your web page in IE8. The meta tag will tell IE8 to render the page using IE7’s rendering engine. To Emulate IE7, add this inside the <head></head> of your web document:

This will allow a site to use the new features of IE8 while using IE7’s rendering engine.

More information can be found here: Update your site to render in IE7 Mode.

Methods to test your site in IE8:

  • Download the current IE8 beta release for Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003/2008.
  • Don’t want to install a beta product? Then download a standalone application that supports IE versions 5.5 through the current IE8 beta release. Try the IETester by the makers of DebugBar.
  • Another alternative is to use the VNC remote access options offered by BrowserCam which allow you to test websites virtually.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is still the de facto standard for businesses and consumers but never captured the hearts of web designers and developers. IE8 is poised to change that sentiment with its intuitive new features and respect for web standards. Here are additional resources to get ready for IE8:

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6 responses to “Here comes Internet Explorer 8”

  1. Well, I hope the beta is not consistent with the final version – it’s already busting my layout on’s home page.

    It has to do with floats screwing up.

    This code:

    … works fine in like, every other browser known to man and beast – except IE8 beta! Thanks be to the Microsoft nerds for the new IE7 emulation meta tag:


  2. Nice article, John.

    I’m sort of dreading the full rollout of IE8, but at least we have plenty of methods to deal with the issues that pop up.

    An alternative to BrowserCam is It is completely free, although you have to wait a few minutes for your shots.


  3. I actually liked working with IE8 for the brief time that I had. It seems like there are a lot of fixes and improvements overall, so I think that they are definitely listening to the design community while still trying to maintain usability for those who are technological dummies. While not a MS fanboi I do see the line that they are treading, and so far it seems to be working out for the best.

  4. Oh great, another thing Microsoft is doing bad. Maybe they should face the music and admit that they can’t make a browser ^_^ lol.

    Not another crappy piece of buggy software by Microsoft ^_^ it’s not needed.