How we used user research data to help design Compatibility View

There have already been a few posts on Compatibility View in Internet Explorer 8 (here, here, here, here, here, and here), but none have gone into detail about the user research data we used to help design this feature. We collected data on Compatibility View throughout the IE8 beta releases and have made multiple decisions about its design based on our data from lab studies, field studies, instrumentation, and community feedback. What I’d like to do is go through some common questions we’ve received about the user experience of Compatibility View, and explain how user data has influenced our decisions. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into our design process and how we use data to make feature design decisions.

Current design

So that we’re on the same page, let’s do a quick review. The current design places the Compatibility View button at the end of the Address Bar, next to the Refresh button in the default layout, on sites that do not include the compatibility meta tag or HTTP header. The button has a “page” icon on it. The first two times a user is on a page with the button visible and refreshes the page, a notification balloon will pop pointing to Compatibility View.

Compatibility View button in the address bar and balloon tooltip explaining what Compatibilty View is.

Now that we’ve reviewed the design, let’s look at some of our top questions.

Why put the icon next to the Refresh button?

One of our top concerns with Compatibility View has always been its discoverability. If users can’t find this feature, they could have a severely compromised experience. When we first tested Compatibility View in our user research labs, it was a button on the Command Bar named “Emulate IE7.”

Old Emulate IE7 button in the command bar.

To test it, we created a task in which participants were asked to use a site that we knew would be unusable before switching to Compatibility View. When they arrived at the site and found it unusable, we asked them, “What would you do if you came to a site that looked like this?” The most common response by far was to click the Refresh button. After probing deeper into why people would try to “fix” a page in this way, most responses focused on a specific incident in the past where the participant had seen a page that was “off” somehow and refreshing the page had fixed the issue. Another common response was to look for something in the Tools menu.

Side note: We use the term “fix” a page in this article a lot because that is how our participants referred to what they were doing. We know the technical accurateness of this term is debatable in a lot of cases but we’re sticking with how our participants thought about the scenarios.

Almost no one thought to use the “Emulate IE7” button, even though they had seen an explanation of it earlier in the session. The main problem was that the word “Emulate” had little to nothing to do with “fixing” sites to our participants. It was a technical description of the feature instead of describing what the user was looking for in these situations. Also, we knew that the problem wasn’t that it didn’t stand out enough. I mean, it was a BIG button that was totally new in the Command Bar. Our problem wasn’t that it didn’t catch user’s eyes, it was that it didn’t fit into user’s mental models.

Based on this data, we knew that the majority of users will likely look to the Refresh button when they encounter a page that needs to be “fixed.” To take advantage of this natural tendency, we place the Compatibility View button next to the Refresh button – next to the most likely place a user will look when a page looks “off.” Additionally, to catch the small percentage of users who we expected to look in the Tools menu, we added a link there as well.

Why use that icon?

We knew that having a button with a name as long as “Emulate IE7” was not going to work being placed next to the Refresh button. It would take up too much space and we already knew that the idea of emulating IE7 in IE8 was strange for most users. We brainstormed and developed a series of potential icons that could work for Compatibility View. One challenge we faced was that communicating what Compatibility View does with only an icon is quite difficult. We tried various iterations such as showing blocks misaligned, representing areas of the page that could be out of alignment. These versions were too abstract to communicate the general idea and often it’s not a case of elements being misaligned (e.g., menus might have the wrong background color). We decided on the “page” icon because this correlated best with how participants were describing the pages that were not rendering correctly (e.g., “broken”, “screwed up”).

In refining the final design, we worked to make it fit as part of our family of icons in the address bar, including stop, refresh and go. We tried options that had different colors and textures for the page but found the page white design was most recognizable as a “web page”. We used the same colors, line weights and gradients present in the other icons to “ground” the icon to the overall address bar design.

When we tested the icon in the lab, we found that the majority of participants understood that the icon had something to do with the page with a problem they were looking at. Seeing the icon led most people to read the tooltip that explains the feature. After reading the tooltip, we saw many positive reactions to the icon and that it made sense given what the feature does.

Some reviewers felt that showing this icon on pages that were potentially fine would confuse users and make them think that the page was broken somehow, but we saw no indication of that in our studies. Participants did not even look toward the Compatibility View button unless they were in situations where it could potentially help them, which was one of our design goals.

Will people understand what it’s for?

We expect most users to understand Compatibility View and when to use it.  Of our lab participants who read the Compatibility View tooltip, the notification balloon, or tried the feature, all have understood the feature’s purpose. Most importantly, everyone who understood the the feature, continued to use it on the sites they encountered that had issues. This was true for our lab participants and also for our field research participants.

Why have balloon notifications?

After a few rounds of testing in the lab, and getting feedback from participants in our field research, we still saw some participants didn’t notice the Compatibility View button, even after they hit Refresh on a page with layout issues. Quite naturally, they got into an automatic pattern of quickly clicking Refresh and then putting their eyes right back to the page content to see if it fixed their problem. We had an important decision to make--do we add some kind of notification that lets the user know about Compatibility View when it could help them? The upside is that more people who would benefit from Compatibility View will find it. The downside is that we are adding another notification to the system.

We tested a build with the notification balloons in the lab and in our field research and found that displaying a balloon did in fact help more people discover Compatibility View. We didn’t take the decision lightly but felt the added awareness was worth the added notification.

Why have two balloon notifications?

Originally the balloon notification only showed once when a user refreshed a page displaying the Compatibility View icon for the first time. As I mentioned above, even showing this once was a strongly-debated decision. But, there were many concerns that once was not enough so we tested the possibility of showing the notification up to three times (after the first three times someone refreshed a page displaying the Compatibility View icon).

In the lab, we showed participants from one to three different sites with layout or content problems. At each site we asked them what they would do if they came to a site like this. Most clicked Refresh as we expected. What we found was that of people who saw the notifications, about two thirds reacted to the first notification and the other third reacted to the second notification. Showing the second notification caught the attention of a group of people who were very focused on the content of the page at the first site but were more likely to notice things outside of their normal pattern at the second site.

There was also a group who saw all three notifications and dismissed or ignored them all. We believe these users would not pay attention to the notification no matter how many times we showed it.  This lead us to not show the notification three times “to be safe” because we had no evidence that showing the notification more than two times will catch any additional users and there is a real cost to over communicating with users (e.g., data in the recent e7 blog post about Action Center).


I hope this gives you some insight into how we as an engineering team use user research data to make some of our design decisions. As you can see, a lot of time, research, and deliberation can go into a feature (and this was just a summary, I didn’t even get into our instrumentation data). We always want to base important decisions on the best data possible and that includes data from the lab, field, instrumentation, and community feedback. If you’d like to find out more about user research at Microsoft, please check out our user research website.

Jess Holbrook
User Experience Researcher

Ben Truelove
User Experience Designer

Comments (62)

  1. BC says:

    Great design analysis. The Compatibility View button is well implemented, simple and easy to use.

  2. Charles says:

    "Fixing" a page with the refresh button still works in many cases, for example this IE8 bug which removes 4k from the page’s markup:

  3. Pies says:

    While I applaud the efforts to fix IE, your marketing department is doing you a huge disfavor.

    So on one side we have this post, which, while not perfect, indicates you guys want to do a good job with IE8. On the other hand we have a bunch of lies that indicates you guys want to mislead people. So, which one is it?

  4. Stifu says:

    Pies: commenting on this may lead to deleted posts, as I realized yesterday.

  5. Mike says:


    I wrote on this and my post was not deleted, even got a reply from Eric Law stating

    ‘The page you’ve cited debunks a number of common myths which exist about web browsers.  Each of the points explains in detail why the claim is a myth.’

    I am not sure if the claims are lies but they really are stretching the truth. I wonder if some British Politicians worked on this, the amount of spin is about right.

    Unfortunately this is the world we live in the best products are not necessarily the most popular, think vhs vs betamax.

  6. Ian says:

    Rather than fretting "oh nos, them there’s lies and y’all are a bunch of lyin liars"– dontcha think it might be a lot smarter to be specific?  

    I don’t see anything in the "Comments" section of their check-chart that is inaccurate, tho it’d be fair to say that "ease of use" is always subjective.  It’s also fair to say that if you download enough addons for other browsers, they can mostly match IE’s features on this chart.  But when other browsers compare to IE, they don’t count IE addons.

    And the other guys continue to spread their own lies and FUD.  Consider for example.  It shows a chart showing how Firefox is "safer" than IE.  Except that the chart is from 2006 and compares Firefox against IE **six**, which is obviously pretty stupid.  Know why they haven’t updated their chart?  Because their current numbers make *IE* look better.  

    Check out

  7. Stifu says:


    "Rather than fretting "oh nos, them there’s lies and y’all are a bunch of lyin liars"– dontcha think it might be a lot smarter to be specific?"

    Sure. I’ll point out the most obvious: web standards. Other browsers handle these things that IE does not:

    – XHTML

    – SVG

    – MathML

    – Many nice CSS3 properties

    – More complete / less buggy JavaScript support

    IE8 apparently passes a few more CSS2 tests. How could that possibly count as a tie?

  8. Stifu says:

    Oh, and I forgot about HTML5 support. The list goes on.

    PS: the check mark for Firefox regarding Developer Tools got added afterward, as you can see from this screenshot of the old version:

  9. Ian says:

    Stifu, when you compare apples and oranges, I don’t think you can fairly say that apples are better than oranges or oranges are better than apples. Complaining that they decided it’s a tie is pretty weak.

    IE8 has partial HTML5 support, just like all other browsers.  

    The original chart was technically more accurate: While Firebug may be the cat’s pajamas, it’s not part of Firefox itself.  While that point may seem academic, we’re back to the issue that Firefox and others aren’t going to give credit to IE for having great tools (VSWeb, Fiddler, HTTPWatch, etc).

  10. Stifu says:


    "Stifu, when you compare apples and oranges, I don’t think you can fairly say that apples are better than oranges or oranges are better than apples."

    Then why compare apples and oranges in the first place? And it’s not really an apple/orange situation, anyway. And even if it was, that doesn’t make jumping to silly conclusions any more acceptable.

    Let’s face it, web standards support has always been one of the weakest points of IE. This has improved a lot with IE8, that’s right, but not enough to brag about being better or even just as good as others. Not to mention that in most cases, the most standards compliant mode of IE8 is not used. So even if IE8 had the best standards support in the world, it wouldn’t matter that much if it this mode was only activated on 5% of the sites, displaying the rest in either quirks or IE7 mode.

    Also, in real life, you’ll find more webmasters using opacity or border-radius (even though still in draft) than some obscure CSS2 properties like display: run-in, because they’re more useful, and that’s what matters.

    "IE8 has partial HTML5 support, just like all other browsers."

    But it’s less complete than the one of the other browsers, as they admit themselves on that page.

  11. Ian says:

    Stifu: I didn’t write it, so I can’t say why they chose to make the comparison, but since they claim it’s a "tie" the whole point seems moot.

    As for the rest of your reply, just because you say something (e.g. In most cases IE8 modes isn’t used) doesn’t make it true.  You provide (and I strongly suspect, have) NO data to support such a silly claim.  You have no idea how many sites are out there, you have no idea how many people visit each site, you have no idea what the ratio of quirks/strict is, etc, etc, etc.  

    HTML5: Mmm hmm… and which parts of HTML5 are you using in Chrome that you can’t use in IE8?  Which part of HTML5 is actually ratified as a standard?  (Hint: None). By your line of argument, Firefox and Chrome have inferior standards support because they don’t support actual standards (CSS2.1) and do implement things that aren’t standards (yet).

  12. Stifu says:


    Of course they’d say it’s a "tie", because they won’t admit to losing on any point, and clearly can’t say they have the upper hand. So they have to settle for a tie. The whole point of making it a tie is to negate an obvious advantage of the competition. Trying to defend such a laughable chart hurts your credibility, and I’m most likely wasting my time with you, but hey, it kills time.

    Oh, and even if there are no stats for how many sites trigger IE8 mode, the whole point is that other browsers use their strictect rendering mode more often than IE8 does. No compatibility list or intranet specific quirks.

    That alone should make IE8 lose points on the "web standards" comparison. But even ignoring that point, IE8 would still rank last in a non-biased comparison.

    "By your line of argument, Firefox and Chrome have inferior standards support because they don’t support actual standards (CSS2.1) and do implement things that aren’t standards (yet)."

    You’re twisting my words, that’s low… but hey, as long as you feel like you’re right, I’m happy for you. By the way, you focus on CSS2.1 and neglect other standards that other browsers implement. Such as SVG and pals, which IE doesn’t even partially support. But surely it’s better to just concentrate on what IE supports, else IE would suffer too much from the comparison.

  13. Ian says:

    Stifu: I don’t think you’re actually an arbiter of credibility.  Since we’re both essentially anonymous cowards, I think we can let our respective comments stand on their own.

    The fact that we’re even discussing a silly table that no meaningful number of normal people will ever see is a pretty clear indication that you and I have got something in common: we’ve both got too much time on our hands. 🙂

  14. Thank you for the excellent explanation of the usability tests that went into implementing this feature. It’s easy for web professionals to offer opinions about the probable viability of features, but it’s only when one sits on the other side of the one-way mirror and watches normal users trying things that one realises how much one takes for granted. I have been deeply distrustful of, to cite just one example, tag clouds since watching a normal person trying to comprehend one during usability tests at Yahoo.

    Although it seems to me to be off-topic for this post, I have to add that the questions raised about that comparison chart are valid: most of its points seem to be specious at best, and many are purely subjective both in the interpretation of the supposed subject and in what the "Comment" column has to say thereon.

    "Ease of Use" is a particularly egregious example, in that it not only begs the question of whether the new features cited do in fact make the browser easier to use, but also suggests that the addition of features is inherently an enhancement of usability.

    I lean more towards the idea that something becomes easier to use not when something is added, but when something is taken away. These features may not force themselves upon one, but to suggest that their mere presence promotes "Ease of Use" strikes me as dubious at best.

    Maybe you should get the marketing department to carry out some tests of their own; they may be surprised to discover that the bull dung detectors out there are more accurate than they expected 😉

  15. I can force a page into comptibility view, but I can’t force it into ie8 mode

  16. DT says:

    Personally I think it would be pretty dandy if browsers stated which standards they supported, and web pages had a mechanism for transmitting which standards they required. It would put an end the inane complaints that particular browsers weren’t supporting web standards because they didn’t implement particular ones. Unfortunately this isn’t tenable for a number of reasons. Ah well.

    If the W3C standards were supposed to be an all-or-none situation, they wouldn’t be split up as they are. The standards are supposed to be loosely coupled. But for some reason there are so many people clamouring for lock-in to the W3C style of doing things for misguided reasons. As things currently stand they are mostly doing this against implementations of non-standards which is laudable. However, if for example a superior standard for vector graphics was ratified by some non-W3C institution, they would stand against that as well.

    I am interested to know. The HTML 4 script tag allows for scripts to be attached in whatever language the page creator wants. The recommendation page itself has examples in ‘Javascript’, VBScript, and TCL. Does Firefox support anything aside from Mozilla JavaScript? And if not, why not, and why isn’t it being attacked for this?

  17. what gives says:

    A bunch of comments were removed from this blog post that DID NOT break the rules specified for this blog – solely because they exposed the sham behind the IE8 marketing on this page.

    Please re-publish the deleted posts or explain why you are applying censorship on this blog when the IE browser is compared to more capable browsers with better technology like Opera, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

  18. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    Rules for comments on the IEBlog are covered here:

    Anyone is obviously welcome to post off-topic, non-respectful, and/or "non fun" comments to their own blogs.  

    The Web is a wonderful thing.

  19. not quite says:

    The Web is a wonderful thing indeed but the censorship on the IE Blog is beyond compare.

    MSFT decided to post a bunch of marketing hype that was called out because it was obviously very, very stretched to the point of almost being liable.

    Commenters pointed out the flaws and lies in the "facts" presented.

    Removing the comments without specific reasoning to indicate the justification is censorship.

    Were the comments off-topic? – No, the comments on this post are entirely related to IE and more specifically the false statements in the recent marketing.

    Were the comments non-respectful? – No. No one person was vilified, nor were names called against anyone or any company.

    Were the comments "non fun"? – No. The comments were well poised and provided an item-by-item retort to the "facts" quoted in the article.

    Please un-hide the comments and let the community decide if they are appropriate or not.  Judging by the number of comments on this blog that indicated the same flaws in the marketing – I can’t see how you’ll find any companionship in applying censorship to the open web.

    Which outside of the censorship on this blob – is indeed – a wonderful thing.


  20. Stifu says:

    Jake: the comments are most likely deleted rather than hidden, so forget it.

    Just keep in mind only off topic praises are allowed, not off topic criticism.

  21. Harry Richter says:

    @not quite et al.

    Were the comments off-topic? – Yes, they were! Just to remind you, if you’ve forgotten, the topic is: "How we used user research data to help design Compatibility View".

    As Eric Law pointed out: "Anyone is obviously welcome to post off-topic, non-respectful, and/or "non fun" comments to their own blogs."

    The problem with this blog is, that almost every topic is diluted by irrelevant discussions on matters, that have no connection to the given blog-post whatsoever. The net effect: myself, and I assume a lot of others, hardly bother to read the comments anymore, because in 95% of the cases it is a waste of time.

    @ EricLaw

    I would prefer a change in the setup of this blog: a new thread "off topic", where all comments not related to the given topic are moved to. Those interested in the REAL topic would then have a valuable resource, and those commenting on other things would not have to scream "censorship", because their comments would still be there (the rules could even be suspended or weakened for this "off topic" thread).



  22. Chris Poteet says:

    I do like what you guys did with IE8. It’s a huge step forward, but some of the UX decisions you made with the compatibility view were disappointing at best.

    Using an icon to designate that a page is "broken" is a misnomer at best. The icon seems to designate that leading to an incorrect assumption on the part of the user.

    I would also have placed the icon in the status bar and not to the left of the refresh button which could accidentally be touched.

    Lastly, I would only display one balloon notification but only once and only after hitting the button with a message that it can be undone.

    A little disappointed with this. I’m sure you did extensive UX testing, but I would imagine with a wider study it would’ve changed the outcome.

  23. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Chris: I’m not sure what leads you to conclude that further study would have resulted in a different outcome?  

    For clarity, it’s important to reiterate that users who see pages that do not lay out correctly consider them "broken"– it’s this that led us away from the "Emulate IE7" title which had no meaning for them.

    @Harry: I agree, the comments here aren’t as valuable as they could be, often due to their off-topic nature, and the positioning of personal opinion as irrefutable fact.  

    Of course, such problems are endemic in pretty much all public forums.

    @not quite: As noted previously, offensive and abusive language are not permitted in comments on this blog.  This is so for a number of reasons, not the least of which that we have readers of all ages and sensibilities, and this is the official source for a professional software development organization.  

    There are many sites on the web with more relaxed policies, and those who do not wish to abide by the rules on this blog should post elsewhere.

  24. Stifu says:


    "and the positioning of personal opinion as irrefutable fact."

    You mean, like that IE comparison chart? 🙂

    I’ve got a few of my comments deleted, yet I didn’t use offensive or abusive language. It could have been seen as provocative, but it was always polite. But whatever.

    Any *real* news about IE coming soon? So we can comment on something interesting again.

  25. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Stifu: 🙂

    We have a schedule of upcoming posts, most of which concern IE8 and topics that span all IE versions.  For the next version of IE, we’re still in a "listening phase"; we’ve gotten some great feedback and suggestions, but nothing we’re ready to blog at this point.

    If you’re looking for some more content to chew on, please check out my blog over at  I’m trying to provide some deep-dive content on some lesser known areas of the browser.  If you have a suggestion for a topic, please send it my way over there.  Thx!

  26. Rembrandt A. Martinez says:

    All of my trust, user’s trust, is going to be hand in hands with internet Explorer, I mean, they do such a job. The outrageous men would tear it, but I dis-believe that they have such disrespect for this software.

  27. on behalf of philmore says:

    The following is an OVER-CENSORED version of the original post.  The original POST did not contain any swearing, personal or corporate attacks.

    However to avoid the over-zealous censorship on this blog i’ve edited this repost to replace anything that might have been considered a violation of the rules for this blog.

    Rules listed here

    The following substitutions have been made:




    Saturday, June 20, 2009 3:52 PM by philmore

    The "facts" on IE’s site are very, very stretched versions of the truth.

    #1.) Security – I don’t give a rats behind how you compare the numbers. Firefox doesn’t run ActiveX therefore I won’t get infected with all the **GARBAGE**ware, spyware and viruses that use ActiveX. Even if IE8 somehow asks for confirmation on every single possible vector to add it… I have never wanted ActiveX and if there was a version of IE that shipped without it even being installed I would use that version.

    #2.) Privacy. I find it hilarious that up until IE8 IE was a leaky sieve for privacy and now that they have InPrivate browsing they tout it as the best thing since sliced bread. Sure Firefox left it off the last release because they wanted to focus on getting a solid build out. It will be back in soon.

    #3.) Ease of Use? Are you **VIEWING_THE_SAME_WORLD_WE_ARE**? Why do you think users switched to Firefox and Chrome in the first place! Sure Accelerators will save you some time here and there but the vast array of Firefox extensions makes this a moot point.

    #4.) Web Standards. Hmm, seem to have left of ECMAScript? probably because of all the remaining failures to support proper event listeners, DOM modification events, truly native XMLHTTPRequest etc. and oh yeah, SVG, CANVAS and the CSS items developers care about… opacity, rounded corners, APNG, etc.

    #5.) Reliability. Nice slant. sure IE can recover a crashed tab… but better to not crash in the first place. Firefox doesn’t suffer from **GARBAGE** like Operation Aborted and StackOverflows due to IE’s inability to sort out references when developers need to override IE methods and functions because they weren’t implemented correctly in the first place.

    #6.) Customizability. Hmm seems IE rates itself up there with Firefox? Wow! I’m impressed. Except that wouldn’t be correct. Where are the thousands of extensions that Firefox has? Why can’t I customize half the features in IE8 that I could in IE6? Why can’t I get a tab to open in the correct location in IE? (e.g. at the very end of the tab bar) Why do developers complain that writing extensions for IE is so hard? And when they succeed and IE runs slow MSFT blames them for writing bad extensions when in reality it is the poor extension environment that IE provides that is the issue.

    #7.) Compatibility. **ADAMANTLY_STRONG_DISAGREEMENT**! IE caused the incompatibility problem in the first place by deviating from the standards to try and squash Netscape. Developers make sure sites work in IE ***ONLY*** because of IE’s (dwindling) marketshare. I can assure you that if I wasn’t making money from my customers that haven’t yet switched (12% of my customer base) I wouldn’t code for IE at all. In fact I have no plans to support IE6 or IE7 AT ALL in 2010. Both of those browsers are dead technology.

    #8.) Manageability. Enterprise corporations do have mass rollouts of software indeed. Since they need to, they have tools to do this because most apps by themselves don’t have infrastructure for this. That said I’ve seen dozens of successful rollouts of Firefox to 1,000s of desktops without issues. Again you’re trying to fight a moot point.

    #9.) Performance. Nice try to claim IE8 is on par. Hundreds of sites across the net have done tests where IE always comes behind Safari, Opera, Chrome & Firefox (and more importantly behind IE6 and IE7). Since the biggest complaint about IE8 that is opening tabs is too slow (with lots of proof to back it up) I hereby call this particular comparison **GARBAGE**!

    So all in all? yeah its great Marketing for MSFT and IE but for the rest of us "Real World" users it simply just doesn’t measure up.

    Google around – my sentiments are shared by most.

  28. Judah says:

    @on behalf of: Nice work on the cleanup.  The ranting is still mostly senseless and lacks credible references for claims made, but at least it’s only offensive to reality.

  29. Natasha says:

    @philmore & @on behalf & @Judah:

    Glad to see some open commentary on the status quo. We can argue if there are facts to back up philmore or the original IE marketing but its fairly pointless since both sides are hard to prove definitively.

    I think we can all agree though that the IE marketing is humorous at best and philmore’s comments merely reflect a frustrated user and developer community that would prefer open discussion of a feature roadmap for IE rather than endless self-back-patting on a job half done.

    @Harry Richter’s comments are spot on. Since this is the only pseudo 2 way communication option with MSFT we have to override the posted topic to open up discussion on the topics that matter.

    If another open forum is opened up I’m sure many of us would be happy to move aside and take off-topic conversations elsewhere but with the current options available (read: none) we don’t have much choice.

  30. Mitch 74 says:

    @critics: I guess the subject has changed. Now, before I continue, in reference to the original post (this blog post), I’d say that, indeed, the way Compatibility View works is probably one of the least intrusive and most logical way for a non-educated user of web browser (personally, as an educated web user, I preferred beta 1’s solution, it spoke more to me).

    However, one may very well say that educated users… don’t use IE (and very educated users only use IE to debug a website on it).

    Since the Get-The-FUD-sorry, ‘Facts’ campaign is now the subject of this discussion, may I add my own little stone?

    Security: Firefox 3.0 at least, but probably Chrome 2.0 too, can run fully in User Mode, plugins included – there CAN’T be privilege escalation through them, like there is in IE (including 8.0 – as proof I’ll point you to this month’s security patch). You’ll tell me, not everybody run user accounts, in Windows users prefer running as full Admin. Ah – Now THAT’s dumb. But yes, on an insecure system, IE is less insecure. Still, I look forward to Win7, where I can remove IE 8 completely from my user accounts and run Firefox 3.0 in user mode only.

    Privacy: InPrivate Browsing is a nice feature, but why is data still written to disk then? At least Firefox 3.5 will keep everything in RAM – because it’s much harder to recover data from RAM than from disk. Note that Firefox 3.0 can be run from an USB stick, with writes disabled – can’t do more private than that.

    Ease of Use: it’s a matter of taste, clutter-free but bare like chrome, fully customizable in a few clicks like Firefox, or stuffed, locked toolbars like IE 8. That one should have a BLINK tag on all 3 checks. Heh.

    Web standards: sorry, no, IE fails here: CSS 2.1 support may be splendid in IE 8, but DOM 2 is absent. We can also mention XHTML, but also plain dumb XML (the msxml3 parser, as used in IE, is not even XML 1.0 compliant). CSS 2.1 support on medias other than screen is also quite spotty.

    Developer tools: Firefox comes with a powerful CSS and JS debugger, a source code viewer with syntax highlighting (and error detection), and powerful headers and media type information built-in. Firebug is an extension that is used by web professionals only, it’s better to ship it separately – if only to allow out-of-band updates. I mean, Firebug has been updated twice since IE 8 RTM, while IE 8 developers tools haven’t changed much since Beta 2… But then, the table has been corrected (someone got the facts, for once).

    Reliability: an up-to-date IE 8 install on a clean Windows XP sp3 fresh install (it was an hour old), with all patches installed, crashed FULLY on me last week (it brought down the explorer.exe main process with it) on Microsoft’s websites no less. On the same machine, a beta release of Firefox 3.5 (by definition, unstable) has yet to crash on that same site. Bite me, I wanted to download .Net 2.0 SP1 – I had to use Firefox to do that (IE 8 was luckily stable enough to access IE 8 is reliable in one way: you can be sure it WILL crash, and it will probably bring down your desktop with it. Yay.

    Customizability: I can move Firefox’s toolbars and icons – that’s a feature from IE 6 that should never have gotten the ax (it was the reason I switched from Netscape 4 to IE 5), especially now on wide screens where stacked, frozen tool bars mean lost screen real estate. IE 8 ships with built-in features alright, most of that can’t be disabled: it’s not customizable then. Put a blink on IE’s check.

    Compatibility: maybe in the US, on some banking sites that are IE-only. In the EU, where Firefox has 25-40% market share (depending on member state), that’s actually the other way around: you can surf with Chrome and Firefox more easily than with IE. Put 3 blinking checks.

    Manageability: MSI packages are made by third parties to allow centralized distribution on Windows (they are still covered by Mozilla). On other OSes, they can be dealt with as packages with custom configurations – so, it’s a very tentative IE win.

    Performance: no. No, no, no! IE 8 takes ages to start and open a tab, even on a fresh install; the others react pretty much instantly, and load heavily scripted pages quite a bit faster than IE 8 (which often times out when pages use VERY HEAVILY scripted pages). DOM manipulation is also still quite a drag; one has to understand that coders will single out IE 8 to provide it with specific code so as to make it not TOO slow – so ‘performance’ should sport only two checks: Firefox and Chrome.

  31. yet another post about the truth says:

    IE8 Get The Facts Campaign – Gets It Wrong

    The best part is… this guy is actually a self-confessed "a bit pro-microsoft" guy.  Yet even he feels the campaign is off the mark.

  32. another response says:

    Another response to the "Get the FUD" campaign:

    A few key points:

    2. Privacy – Really? The don’t even give a nod to Chrome? Chrome was the first major browser to offer private (or “incognito”) browsing.

    5. # Developer tools – Really? Microsoft is trying to say that IE includes better developer tools? Firefox’s built-in javascript console still beats the heck out of the IE javascript console. Add on top of that the add-ons that are available for Firefox, and IE falls flat. The IETester “MyDebug” toolbar does offer a few great tools, but that has nothing to do with Microsoft; that’s a completely independent product.

    7. Customizability – are they serious? They’re spinning “we’ve bloated the heck out of our browser by giving our users no choice as to what features they want” into “we win!” There’s no browser out there that beats Firefox in terms of customizability. There most likely never will be (which is unfortunate, because I would really like to be able to download an extremely barebones browser, then customize it with my desired features).

  33. revised comparison chart says:

    The IE8 comparison chart has been revised.

    This is the updated version (author unknown)

  34. more voices says:

    Security: Both chrome and firefox have phishing and malware protection too

    Privacy: Chrome shipped incognito mode long before IE8

    Ease of Use: Every browser out there has features the others don’t. What matters to you is completely subjective.

    Web Standards: They pass the most css 2.1 tests because they wrote and passed them along. While IE8 is better then IE has been for ages at web standards, it is still a generation behind the competition who are supporting more and more of HTML 5 and CSS 3.

    Developer Tools: While the dev toolkit is built in and is definately quite nice, firebug is the one and only real choice for web dev tools.

    Reliability: Chrome has recovered my tabs after a crash several times now, and shipped process isolation before anyone else.

    Customizability: If all you count is features out of the box, Opera beats everyone by miles. Opera’s marketshare shows just how irrelevant a metric this actually is to most people.

    Compatibility: One of two points that are true. The only sites that are not compatible with IE8 are ones using other peoples vender specific extensions to the standards, or HTML5/CSS3 features.

    Managability: The second point that is completely true. Neither firefox or chrome use the accepted standards in windows package management, and because of that are a bit of a nightmare to deploy and manage on a windows network.

    Performance: The rendering engine is quite fast. However, the javascript engine is still a generation or so behind the competition.

    This is obviously all marketing, but very little of it are flat out lies. Most have a kernel of truth, but only if you look at it in a specific way

  35. Jameson says:

    There is at least one big bold barefaced lie.

    The claim that the web standards which IE8 fails to meet are "evolving" is a flat out lie.

    Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome all pass the majority of Acid3 tests. IE8 passes only about 20% of them.

    The levels of the web standards that are tested by Acid3 have been stable for 5 years or more in most cases, and some of them have been the standard for over eight years and IE STILL doesn’t meet them.

    It is not really a case that the web standards in question are "evolving" so much as it is the case that IE is a dinosaur when it comes to web standards compliance.

    These are "the facts" that one needs to "get".

  36. Sunspider JavaScript Test results says:

    Recent Sunspider JavaScript Test Results:

    Times are in Milliseconds (LOWER #’s are better)

    Chrome, Firefox and Opera were 2,000-8,000ms FASTER than IE8.

  37. Matthew says:

    Gee, lots of off-topic comments.  Let’s take it from the top folks:

    @Natasha, I’d hardly call this a two-way communication mechanism with Microsoft, given that no one is really communicating here, just throwing barbs back and forth, and virtually no one from Microsoft is participating (probably for that reason). You’d probably be better off in the IE newsgroups, which have tons of readers and have been around forever.

    @MoreVoices, Yes, other browsers have phishing and malware protection too.  But independent studies show that IE8’s anti-malware is WAY more effective. Other browsers block less than 50% of attacks.

    Actually IE8 matches most of the other browsers in terms of what HTML5 is supported, although others have a lead in CSS3.  Of course, most of the CSS3 spec isn’t in candidate Recommendation yet, and the CSS working group itself rates CSS2.1 compliance above CSS3 in terms of priority.

    Firebug *is* lovely. Shame that it’s not installed by default. I like that I can hit F12 on any random IE8 machine and get a working debugger.

    You’re wrong about Chrome’s process isolation; IE8 beta had it first. But really, it’s not super-important who’s first, it’s important that the features work well, and this one does work pretty well.

    Opera does have good customizability. Shame they can’t maintain my customizations across upgrades. Firefox has a similar problem with addons but it seems to be improving.


    Yes, Chrome has incognito mode, but they don’t have a filtering feature, so Google’s "AdSense" ads (which are on most of the pages you care about) can track you everywhere you go on the web.  Firefox doesn’t have a filtering feature either, although you can at least download a plugin for Firefox to do this.  Google (obviously) wants to track you and I doubt we’ll see a filtering solution out of them.

    @Mitch74, When you call people you’ve never met "uneducated" you’re obviously trolling. I’m going to ignore the rest of your comment, since I don’t much care for mud-wrestling.

    @jameson, I’m not sure what a "barefaced lie" is in your book, but you’re spreading untruths here. ACID3 specifically tests things which are not a part of Standards (Candidate Recommendation/Recommendation stage) yet, which anyone can easily see by doing any research ( So, yes, standards are still evolving.

    The fact that other browsers are trying to get out of standards probably isn’t the end of the world, but it’s important to recognize that this is how IE got in so much trouble in the first place (most standards weren’t yet ratified when implemented by IE in the 90s, so when the changed standards were ratified, IE wasn’t compliant, and chose compatibility over compliance).

    @Sunspider: Yes, yes, microbenchmarks are faster in other browsers, and this isn’t news. IE8 does much better (300%-500%) than IE7 but is still slower than latest versions of other browsers. But, microbenchmarks don’t tell the full story, which has been pointed out here a lot.

  38. Matthew says:

    [typo fix]

    s/get out of standards/get out AHEAD of standards

  39. It’s always best for progressive companies to listen to their users and use the user research data to develop new products. The use of "Compatibility View" instead of "Emulate" is a good common sense, because "Emulate" has little meaning in this kind of situation to a less technical person.

    If I didn’t know about this feature and encounter problem viewing any page, I would naturally refresh the page, poke into the Tools menu to see if any feature there can be helpful or clear the browser cache.

  40. Tom says:

    My Response to the IE8 Comparison Chart. Microsoft IE Team need to be honest next time. You can not fool us, we all know what other browsers is like.

    1. Security – it may very well be that IE8 has some security tools built in, but that doesn’t mean that those tools work the way you would expect. Some people would call this “bloat.” Besides, it cuts down on the amount of choice the users have. What if I want to install AVG with its toolbar? I’ve used Firefox with the AVG toolbar, and find it much better and easier to use than the “filters” built into IE8.

    2. Privacy – Really? The don’t even give a nod to Chrome? Chrome was the first major browser to offer private (or “incognito”) browsing.

    3. Ease of use – Who judges this? As far as I’m concerned, Chrome is much easier to use than IE8. The “most visited” feature in Chrome (similar to Opera’s speed dial, but it automatically populates the list with your most often visited sites) gives Chrome a huge advantage in my opinion. The autocomplete function in Chrome’s address bar and the automatic Google search give it a few steps up, too.

    4. Web standards – I like the spin they apply to this category. I also find it curious the way they define “standards.” Granted, IE8 does account for many of the CSS 2.x standards available now, but it also still includes a great deal of IE-only “features” that make it difficult to utilize the standards. It’s also interesting that they didn’t include Safari in any of these comparisons, as, from what I’ve heard, the latest Safari would beat all of the browsers hands-down. Still, IE8 is much, much, much better than IE7 or IE6, so I will give props to Microsoft for that.

    5. Developer tools – Really? Microsoft is trying to say that IE includes better developer tools? Firefox’s built-in javascript console still beats the heck out of the IE javascript console. Add on top of that the add-ons that are available for Firefox, and IE falls flat. The IETester “MyDebug” toolbar does offer a few great tools, but that has nothing to do with Microsoft; that’s a completely independent product.

    6. Reliability – I haven’t had IE8 crash on me, yet (though I very rarely use it, so that’s not saying much), so I can’t comment on it’s crash recovery. Still, Chrome has only crashed a handful of times for me, so I certainly wouldn’t knock its reliability.

    7. Customizability – are they serious? They’re spinning “we’ve bloated the heck out of our browser by giving our users no choice as to what features they want” into “we win!” There’s no browser out there that beats Firefox in terms of customizability. There most likely never will be (which is unfortunate, because I would really like to be able to download an extremely barebones browser, then customize it with my desired features).

    8. Compatibility – If we’re talking about the browser’s compatibility with specific Web sites, I do have to give this one to IE8, but that’s sheerly because there are still so many sites out there that were developed specifically for IE6, using proprietary Microsoft technology. Of course IE8 is going to work with those sites; and of course the other browsers won’t. Even if we only take into consideration the Exchange Webmail applications out there, that still makes IE8 more compatible than Firefox or Chrome, unfortunately. Sloppy, lazy programming is the only reason IE8 is more compatible. However, if we’re talking about the browser’s compatibility with operating systems (which I’m sure never even crossed their minds), Firefox wins with Chrome coming in second (having just released a pretty nice – though it doesn’t support Flash, yet – beta version for Linux and Mac). In fact, I’d guess that the number of users with an operating system other than Windows is probably equal to or larger than the number of users visiting Web sites that are only compatible with IE.

    9. Manageability – I’m not sure what this even means, so I can’t really comment on it. Still, I’d almost be willing to bet that there are Firefox add-ons available that do these things, if they’re even necessary with Firefox.

    10. Performance – A tie? Really? There’s no way Firefox is as fast as IE8, and there’s no way IE8 is as fast as Chrome. I’d be very curious to see the actual test data used for this comparison.

  41. Matthew says:

    "Tom"– reposting the (inaccurate) work of others (Curtiss Grymala) without citing your source is both bad form and likely a violation of applicable laws.  Grow up.

  42. Harry Richter says:

    The "rules" of the internet should be the standards as defined by the W3C. Many posters of this blog, including some from Microsoft have stated this, and some have beaten MS over not compying to these standards (even if they are not finished, and in some cases the browsers that implement this uncooked stuff may even find, that they are not standards-comliant when the final verdict is handed out).

    What seems strange to me is, that many of those, that scream "EPIC FAIL", fail miseably, when asked to comply to the rules themselves!

    The rules of this blog say: Keep it on topic.

    Now the topic in this case is, just in case you’ve forgotten: "How we used user research data to help design Compatibility View".

    Asking somebody to comply with the rules, but breaking them at every opportunity themselves, just gives a glimps of the character of said person. And to me, that translates to: EPIC FAIL!

    It was probably naive to assume, that after I wrote my comment on June 22nd, that the discussion would return to the topic at hand. Stronger measures seem to be necessary to get this blog to where it should be. I would therefore like to ask the mods of this blog to root out the weeds, and to delete all comments or portions of comments, that do not deal with the REAL topic (including my comments, when they are no longer relevant, and including any following comment that says censorship). There is plenty of space in the world wide web, where any kind of topic can be discussed, but THIS blog is supposed to be a resource for enhancing the knowledge of developpers, and not a place for Microsoft-bashing.



  43. Mitch 74 says:

    @Matthew: call me a troll if you want, fact is that if you don’t educate one, or one studies by himself (gets educated), on what the Internet is, then he can’t know how the Internet works, its possibilities, problems and danger.

    For example, and this post does hint at it, most users that find a page rendering badly in IE 8 think the page is broken – the page could offer correct CSS to all browsers (which IE 8 will render beautifully) but won’t "work" due to an unimplemented object in IE (say, DOM2’s event object).

    Take a recent page, made by a standards-conscious professional Web author (the one that knows that developing a ; there is no question the page itself isn’t broken (it validates as HTML 4.01 Strict, as CSS 2.1): it was detecting and offering hacked code to browsers responding to conditional comments like ![if lte IE 7] use Jscript+IEDOM ![endif] else use ECMAscript + DOM2.

    This is the IE-team and MSDN recommended method of doing browser detection, so don’t come and tell me I’m outta my mind.

    Well, in this page’s case, IE 8 will render the CSS and the base HTML, but won’t be able to run the scripts (bye-bye AJAX); the page will appear broken (it "won’t run") but it’s not; people that know how the Web works will say "IE 8 can’t run this page properly" (they will try with another browser next, and I betcha it’ll run with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.) and they will then try the IE 7 compatibility mode that will, incidentally, run the compatibility mode of the page, and work.

    Users that don’t know better will just say that IE 7 compatibility mode ‘fixed the page’ – while it would just mean that the page didn’t have a fix for IE 8, but did have one for IE 7.

    This post DID say that at first, the IE developers used the technically correct ‘Emulate IE 7’ label, but switched to a broken page icon because their users found it more logical from an IE user point of view (MS usability test labs, the post’s side note: use of ‘fix’ is debatable).

    What can be said about it? Well, the typical IE user thinks that a badly displayed page means the page is broken (obviously, it’s not always true), not that IE can break it – while some other users know better.

    If they know better, maybe they learned something the typical user doesn’t know? So they are more educated on the way of the Internet? So they are educated Internet users? Stop me if I’m wrong, I thought that ‘educated users’ in a context meant people that know how to use something from said context.

  44. German says:


    I will like to add something else to what you’ve said about IE8 comparison chart. Security…

    If IE8 is so secure, why Outlook 2010 will not longer use IE to render e-mails, switching to Word render engine.

    In the other hand at, the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 e-mail editor white paper cites the following about that change

    "Administrator and Developer improvements


    • E-mail rendering and editing use the Office Word technology and are not dependent on Internet Explorer updates



    Should we read between lines "IE updates" as IE security updates?

  45. Ian says:

    @German, as pointed out above, "Tom" didn’t say anything he posted; he just ripped off someone else’s (misleading) statement.

    Now, in response to your question: Why on earth would you assume that Outlook’s choice of rendering engine changed for anything related to security? That’s an unfounded assumption, and you know what they say about assumptions.

    You’re ignoring the totally obvious point that Outlook *2007* (which doesn’t use IE to render email either) doesn’t require a particular version of IE, which means that the Outlook team couldn’t assume that they’d have IE8 even *available* to render email; only IE6 could be assumed.

  46. OMG are you serious IE6 says:

    @Ian – are you serious? Outlook is using IE6 to render emails? No wonder Outlook renders like garbage!

    I am so glad that I don’t use Outlook  – I had no idea it was so unsecure under the covers as well as horrible at rendering HTML content.

    As for how Outlook is designed can it not use the latest Trident engine it finds in the Windows Install?  Wouldn’t that make more sense?

    I thought IE6 was dead but now I have to re-think that statement considering how many users are still suffering with Outlook as their email client.

    Ugh! it just never ends!

  47. best site on the Internet says:

    I just came across this after reading all the comments about the infamous IE8 comparison FUD chart.

    In short:

    "Using Internet Explorer is So 2006.

    You deserve a better browser: Firefox is safer, faster and easier to use than IE."

    Couldn’t agree more! It physically pains me to use a PC that only has IE installed.

  48. oh and this quote is right on says:

    “Firefox 3 remains our Editors’ Choice

    over Microsoft Internet Explorer…”

    – Robert Vamosi, June 2008, CNET

    "When users have a choice…. they don’t choose IE"

    – Me

  49. Ian says:

    @OMG: You clearly didn’t read or understand what I wrote.

    @best,@oh: You mean IE’s competitors bash them? That’s news?  

    CNET (such a reputable source) liked FF3 over IE7? Shocking. Of course, you’re not posting all the quotes that rave about IE8.

    This is becoming such a stupid game. I hope no one is reading this.

  50. Hello all,

    IE 8 and web standards compliance


    Mature, accepted, acknowledged web standards include HTML 4, ECMAScript 10262 3rd edition, User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, DOM 1 Core, DOM 2 Core, DOM 2 Events, DOM 2 HTML interfaces. In all these specifications (final technical releases), IE 8 is weak and/or incomplete and/or with a buggy implementation. Test suites have been done on each/all of these web standards specification and can be verified, tested by anyone.


    DOM 1 Core tests

    Internet Explorer 8:  67.6 %  161 tests passed out of 238 tests

    Firefox 3.0.9:  93.7 %  223 tests passed out of 238 tests

    Opera 9.64:  89.1 %  212 tests passed out of 238 tests

    Back in september 2006, I warned Microsoft that web standards is not just CSS 2.1 but also other W3C Technical recommendations.

    If png file type is now correctly supported in IE 8, then why can’t I use a png image file as favicon/webpage icon? … just like this 2005 W3C QA “How to Add a Favicon to your Site” tutorial ( ) explains/recommends ?

    alt attribute is finally supported correctly but then we will have to wait until IE 9 (2012?) before it is implemented in a truly user-accessible-friendly manner:

    The setting

    Tools/Internet Options…/Advanced tab/Accessibility section/Always expand ALT text for images

    actually never worked for the IE users.

    Even if we concentrate on CSS 2.1 only and exclusively, IE 8 still has a good bunch of incorrect implementations that other browsers (Firefox 3, Opera 9, Safari 4, Konqueror 4) do not have. And I can substantiate and back up such claims with published, wide-open, available, reduced testcases.

    Java applets defined in HTML object elements are not supported in IE 8 and the alternate content won’t even be rendered either. Proof:

    and I’m using the latest JRE 1.6.0_u14

    Customization and add-ons


    I can install an horoscop add-on into IE 8 but I can not find an add-on suitable, helpful, assistive to help web authors into upgrading their poorly-invalid-malformed written HTML documents. Is that sensible… considering IE 8 even provides a broken-webpage-switch-to-compatibility-mode button into the GUI?

    No HTML validator add-on extension (working offline)… like I can use for Firefox 2+.

    No stand-alone application to upgrade HTML documents to pass markup validation, to correct validation (markup and/or CSS) errors. No useful, meaningful help in that area. Zero.

    Considering the huge damage that each and all MS-FrontPage releases have done and the export HTML feature of MS-Word have done to the web, on the web, it would have been certainly reasonable to expect such software.

    IE 8 has no Site navigation toolbar.

    IE 8 has no ability to set a minimum font-size for webpages: good luck ageing baby-boomers and people with low vision.

    IE 8 does not offer users a way or setting to prevent script authors from removing window resizability of javascript-initiated secondary windows: a request that several made back in 2005 in channel9 wiki.

    IE 8 does not offer users a way or setting to prevent script authors from removing toolbars or functionalities in of javascript-initiated secondary windows: a request that several made back in 2005 in channel9 wiki.

    IE 8 does not offer users a way or setting to neutralize noresize, scrolling=no, frameborder=0 like other browsers can and like UAAG recommended. Again, everything was cleanly, clearly, nicely explained back in 2005.

    No way (that I know of) to neutralize Flash in IE 8; no problem with Firefox 3.

    regards, Gérard

  51. howie says:

    @Ian, pls explain what you mean about IE6 and Outlook then as I got the same impression that @OMG got that Outlook is using the IE6 rendering engine rather than the IE7 or IE8 rendering engine.

    I’ll agree with @OMG on this one (if it is true) since IE6’s rendering capabilities are almost 8 years old now.

    Further to this on the mobile side I know that mobile IE is not using IE7 or IE8 yet.  This seriously limits web development when you have to cater to devices/browsers that are years behind the technology curve.

    As for your "rave about IE8" comment @Ian – please post a URL to ANY article "raving" about IE8. To be valid it must not be an MSFT site or a funded by MSFT article.

    IE8 has been out for 3 months now and I have yet to read a single article that "raves" about it.

  52. Ian says:

    @howie> As everyone should plainly see, it’s silly to claim that Outlook adopted their own rendering engine because IE8 isn’t "secure" enough.

    One reason (among many) that this is obviously incorrect is the simple point that because Outlook doesn’t require IE8, that means that Outlook only gets the version of IE that the user happens to have.  Now, if OMG were to say "Outlook dropped using IE because they didn’t like having different versions of IE used for rendering (IE6,7,or 8) depending on what the user has," that might be a reasonable theory, although he’s got zero data to suggest that his theory is correct.

    As for the fact that you just don’t read broadly enough, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.

    @Gerard> You have what looks like a nice list, but I question how much you’ve actually looked into this.  The Java fallback stuff works perfectly on my PC, and there are MANY ways to control Flash in IE, including built-in features AND addons.

    Provide links to your test suites please? I’d like to see the numbers for myself, since I’m not inclined to trust your numbers.

  53. @Ian

    You’re right: the Java (fallback) alternate content is rendered at ~sairwas. Sorry about that. But it’s still a failure to render the 5 applets. With other applets coded/nested within objects, I got security warnings which were nagging more than useful and still no content. If I remember correctly, I couldn’t even see the alternate content.

    > there are MANY ways to control Flash in IE

    Sorry on that too. I simply forgot about Manage Add-ons from where I can disable Flash support in IE 8.

    But I maintain everything else.

    Load this one:

    No content loaded and no fallback alternate content in IE 8.

    > links to your test suites please

    DOM 2 Events is not supported at all by IE 8. The 2 bugs regarding DOM 2 Events (bug 333958 and bug 355795 at IE beta feedback) have been reactivated. So, we should see/get support for that interface in IE 9 (in 2012?).

    DOM 2 CSSStyleSheet interface is not supported: so you have to write cross-browser code all the time. And the spec was nevertheless finalized in nov. 2000!

    document.defaultView, getComputedStyle, etc.: no support and no equivalence in IE (and that’s much worse).

    DOM 3 Core is actually 5 years old…

    Microsoft marketing people can not claim that IE 8 is as good as other browsers regarding web standards support and web standards compliance. Even that could be debated regarding CSS 2.1. Other people (the_dees, James Hopkins, Hilbrand Edskes) have found a number of real CSS 2.1 bugs and have provided testcases.

    regards, Gérard

  54. Sorry to post a slightly offtopic question, but this seems to be the best place to ask:

    Does IE8 provide a way to gain focus from an inactive tab through javascript, similar to the way window.focus works if you don’t use tabs?

    IE7 did not support this, basically voiding the window.focus call if tabs were active. Understable but very inconvenient for our use case. It is possible to activate window.focus through a registry setting or something similar in IE8?

    If that is not possible, is it possible at least to activate an arbitrary tab directly through the windows API? We’re using a ducktape tool now that basically sends CTRL-TAB commands to IE (7 and 8) on the appropriate moment, but this is a very fragile solution.

    thanks a lot,


  55. @DT

    > The HTML 4 script tag allows for scripts to be attached in whatever language the page creator wants. The recommendation page itself has examples in ‘Javascript’, VBScript, and TCL. Does Firefox support anything aside from Mozilla JavaScript?

    Firefox will not handle vbscript and TCL.

    It must be noted that ECMAScript-10262 3rd edition is an official and standardized specification; vbscript is not and, if I recall correctly from the MAMA study, only 3% of webpages declare vbscript.

    Firefox will accept declared scripting media types application/ecmascript and application/javascript as proposed and recommended by RFC4329 ( ) : not IE 8. Bug 338278 was filed on this particular issue at connect IE beta feedback and it was closed by design and it was NOT reactivated:

    Bug 338278: "application/javascript" and "application/ecmasscript" media types not recognized

    regards, Gérard

  56. @Ian,

    > idea what the ratio of quirks/strict is

    I’m pretty sure the MAMA (Metadata Analysis and Mining Application) study has such data.

    ( )

    Using a transitional doctype does not necessarly mean the webpage will trigger web-standards-compliant rendering mode though… the doctype must include the url of the DTD. So…


    > even if there are no stats for how many sites trigger IE8 mode, the whole point is that other browsers use their strictect rendering mode more often than IE8 does.

    How many sites trigger document.documentMode = 8 is the kind of data which Microsoft can find/survey and which will be very useful, even critical for long term decision.

    Other browsers (that I know of) do not use their strictest rendering mode (document.compatMode == CSS1compat) *much* more often than IE 8 does. Their backward-compatible "quirks" rendering mode is different though (is less "IE-bugward") and is well documented.

    When IE triggers backward-compatible "quirks" rendering mode, the other browsers (with smaller market share) will very often do the same.

    regards, Gérard

  57. Marakra says:

    Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome all pass the majority of Acid3 tests. IE8 passes only about 20% of them.

  58. Mitch 74 says:

    @Marakra: Acid3 is more a collection of bug tests: it was designed to hit only existing bugs in common browsers when it was made, and each point actually represents a dozen tests (total amount of tests performed by Acid3 is around 1,300, all targeted at released and supported browsers at the time).

    In short, and like Webkit/Safari and Opera demonstrated last year, a browser that renders Acid3 correctly may not be actually standards-compliant; Mozilla’s approach on that matter, for example, was to fix ‘obvious’ bugs in Acid3 immediately (that’s why Firefox 3’s score went from 64 to 73 during its beta phase) and implement missing features required to comply with other tests before passing them (this is also why current Firefox 3.5 builds don’t reach 100%: they miss some SVG SMIL features required to pass the test).

    On IE’s side, however, Acid3 is a gross oversimplification on missing features:

    – missing SVG support

    – missing DOM2 support

    – missing downloadable font support (valid argument though, tested standards don’t ensure IP protection)

    Ensure that IE won’t pass Acid3 until it implements features that might, in some way, not be required by the Web (SVG, although it’s very nice, isn’t actually required to open a page) for the moment.

    One may hope, however, that when CSS3 reaches recommendation status, its use of SVG syntax and evolved DOM reliance will force IE developers to support these technologies – because frankly, it would be illogical to support SVG syntax and rendering in CSS, and not as standalone!

  59. steve says:

    Sorry to be On-Topic here 😉 but I’d like to know a bit more of the details of this "research"


    Of "N" number of sites tested, "X" were running in Standards Mode, "Y" in IE7 standards, and "Z" in quirks mode.

    Of those sites…

    {####} were inTERnet sites

    {####} were inTRAnet sites

    Our numbers indicate that {X} number of sites that had "Forced IE7" mode, have since updated their content to run in IE8 Standard mode.

    {Y} number of sites currently reported they were "forcing" IE7 mode…

    Plus some idea of the volume of data that you’ve received?

    Data collected from {X} thousand/million sites…

    And if you have the data… from IE8 installs, how many end users have "used" (e.g. toggled) the compatibility mode.

    and any other useful or interesting stats.

  60. Jess [MSFT] says:


    Thanks for the questions.

    Sorry to be On-Topic here 😉 but I’d like to know a bit more of the details of this "research"


    Of "N" number of sites tested, "X" were running in Standards Mode, "Y" in IE7 standards, and "Z" in quirks mode.

    Of those sites…

    {####} were inTERnet sites

    {####} were inTRAnet sites

    In our research lab, we tested up to three sites with each participants that had some layout issues not running in Compatibility View.

    Our numbers indicate that {X} number of sites that had "Forced IE7" mode, have since updated their content to run in IE8 Standard mode.

    {Y} number of sites currently reported they were "forcing" IE7 mode…

    Plus some idea of the volume of data that you’ve received?

    Data collected from {X} thousand/million sites…

    I don’t have these numbers for you, sorry.

    And if you have the data… from IE8 installs, how many end users have "used" (e.g. toggled) the compatibility mode.

    We estimate 18-30% of IE8 users have clicked the Compatibility View button based on our sample (the range is a 95% confidence interval). The important thing to keep in mind is this is just how many people have clicked it. They may have clicked it because they needed it or because they didn’t need it but wanted to see what it would do or clicked it on accident. Our telemetry data doesn’t give us peoples’ intentions, just what happened.

    and any other useful or interesting stats.

  61. steve says:

    @Jess – thanks for the feedback.

    I take it "up to three sites" was a typo? I’m guessing you tested hundreds if not thousands of sites 😉

    If any other stats do become available I’m sure that a blog post of the details would be very welcomed.

    thanks again,


  62. Jess [MSFT] says:


    No, "up to three sites" is accurate but I am referring to testing with participants in our usability labs, not our total test coverage. For that, you are correct, the testing was in thousands upon thousands. Thanks.

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