March 3, 2010

Microsoft: More than 2,000 major Web sites still not fully compatible with IE 8

The bad news: More than 2,000 highly-trafficked Web sites are still not compatible with Internet Explorer 8 and require IE’s Compatibility View support to display properly. The good news: That is down from about 3,100 sites a year ago.

The new data is courtesy of a March 2 post on the Microsoft IE blog.

A year ago, when Microsoft first released Internet Explorer (IE) 8, it got kudos for making its browser somewhat more standards-compliant than previous versions. But increasing standards compatibility meant more incompatibility, as many Web-site developers had tweaked their sites to take advantage of far less standards-friendly IE 6 and IE7 and weren’t in any rush to make changes to accommodate IE 8.

To lessen the impact of those incompatibilities, Microsoft added a compatibility button to IE 8 and also allowed users to opt to download a list of popular Web sites which automatically would display in compatibility mode. Not a perfect solution, but one that kept (at least some) users from screaming that Microsoft had broken the Web with IE 8.

The latest IE Blog post by Program Manager Marc Silbey includes a complicated diagram designed to show how IE 8 determines whether to default to “quirks mode,” “IE 8 almost standards mode,” “IE 8 standards mode” or “IE 7 standards mode” when displaying a Web site.

According to the IE team’s data, only 19 percent of highly trafficked Web sites are currently rendering in IE 8 browsers in full in IE 8 standards mode. The majority (41 percent) are in “IE 8 almost standards mode,” and another 26 percent are being viewed in “quirks” mode. Fourteen percent still require “IE7 standards mode” to be viewed properly.

Microsoft officials have promised to deliver more standards support with IE9, without indicating much beyond the fact Microsoft will support more Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) standards, and (likely/possibly) SVG and HTML5 standards, as well. Microsoft will likely have more to show and talk about on the IE9 standards front at its Mix 10 conference in mid-March.

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