Why I don’t hate Internet Explorer 8 (not that I’d ever use it)

This week’s entry is a double feature about Internet Explorer. Part 1 examined why IE4 was awesome. Read on for part 2, where I’ll admit that I’m grateful for IE8.

Let me start by saying that in general, I find Internet Explorer appalling. The fact that so many people have been supporting an insecure, slow, feature-weak, standards-deviant browser with serious rendering problems and an awful user interface for so many years afflicts my soul with such utter disdain for Microsoft’s line of browsers that I automatically regard every new incantation thereof as an affront to both the web and mankind as a species.

Now that that’s out of my system, I don’t entirely hate Internet Explorer 8. I wouldn’t use it, not with so many better alternatives just waiting to be explored*, but it does offer one massive improvement over its predecessors that I’m very pleased with: IE8 has fantastic CSS 2.1 support.

I’m not making this up.

Check out the standards support table on this page, specifically the secion about CSS 2.1. Look at the massive difference between IE6/IE7 and IE8. Even Firefox 3 and Opera 10 can’t claim the same level of compliance. IE8 isn’t just a competitor when it comes to supporting CSS 2.1, it’s a role model.

This is a big deal.

For the first time ever, web developers can finally count on using standardized CSS to create a modern web experience without having to worry about “how to handle Internet Explorer”. Granted there is still the matter of older versions of IE, but with Windows 7 repairing a lot of the damage done by Vista, more and more users are upgrading to a new OS, and with that, a new browser. Writing cross-browser CSS is becoming easier than ever before.

Of course, many people will argue that simply supporting CSS 2.1 isn’t good enough (and they’re right). Internet Explorer is still way behind its competitors when it comes to newer standards such as HTML 5 and CSS 3. But what if this is just the beginning? Internet Explorer 9 is already well into development, and if Microsoft can turn the hobbled CSS implementations found in IE6 and IE7 into what is now in IE8, who’s to say they won’t be able to step up support for CSS 3 and/or HTML 5 in IE9? In as little as a year or two from now, Internet Explorer may be a legitimate browser for cutting-edge web experiences.

Share some thoughts!

What do you think of IE8? What about Internet Explorer in general?


* For the curious, the browsers linked in that phrase are the ones that were selected to show up in Windows 7′s “browser ballot” in Europe due to antitrust charges brought by the EU against Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Computer World offers a great summary and FAQ on the matter.

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2 Responses to “Why I don’t hate Internet Explorer 8 (not that I’d ever use it)”

  1. dan-menard.com» Blog Archive » IE4 was the Best Version of Internet Explorer Ever Says:

    [...] Life through the eyes of a software developer « iPhone OS 4.0 Predictions Why I don’t hate Internet Explorer 8 (not that I’d ever use it) [...]

  2. dan-menard.com» Blog Archive » Internet Explorer 9 Says:

    [...] team is finally starting to get really serious about modern browser technologies. I’ve made my position on IE8 clear in the past — namely that it nailed CSS 2.1 but still wasn’t a competitive browser [...]

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