Internet Explorer 8.0: web compatibility

Creating a site that looks identical in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari can be a challenge. IE 8 Beta 2 offers better support for W3 Web standards - a set of guidelines developed to ensure that a web page appears the same in all browsers. The downside is that Internet Explorer 8.0 will break some pages designed for earlier Internet Explorer versions.

To counteract this problem, Microsoft has added a compatibility mode: click a button in the toolbar, and IE 8 will display a page in the same way that IE 7 does. In our testing, we found that most pages worked fine with the standard (new) mode, and that most errors were minor cosmetic ones. Unfortunately, the Compatibility Mode toggle button may not be obvious to most users, because it's pretty small; a text label would have helped.

OUR VERDICT

Although it probably won't convince many Firefox users to jump ship, Internet Explorer 8.0 Release Candidate 1 shows promise, and may be worth considering for people who have not yet solidified their browser loyalties. (Keep an eye out for our report on the final release of IE 8.)