Web developers should be tagging their sites now to avoid problems with IE 8, said a senior member of the Microsoft technical support team.

Nick MacKechnie, a senior manager for Microsoft's New Zealand operations, said in his blog that designers should be adding new tags to their sites now or risk those sites "breaking" when the new browser ships. He also said that the second beta of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) would be released before the end of October.

"We are encouraging site administrators to get their sites ready now for broad adoption of Internet Explorer 8, as there will be a beta release in the third quarter of this year targeted for all consumers," said Taylor.

IE8 was released in Beta 1 nearly three months ago. Since then, Microsoft has not specified a target for a second preview, although it has regularly posted progress notes and other information about the new browser on a company blog.

IE8, Microsoft said in early March, would default to a standards-compliant rendering of web content - an approach that had been pushed by site developers - rather than a mode that stresses compatibility with IE7. The new tag, which can be applied on a per-page basis or site-wide, instructs IE8 to display the content as would IE7.

"Browsing with this default setting [in IE8] may cause content written for previous versions of Internet Explorer to display differently than intended," MacKechnie said. "This creates a call to action for site owners to ensure their content will continue to display seamlessly in Internet Explorer 8."

The first beta of IE8 is not exactly in widespread use. According to the latest data from Web metrics company Net Applications, IE8 Beta 1 accounted for just .02 percent of all browsers used last month. IE7, by comparison, held the top spot with a market share of 45.9 percent.