There’s trouble brewing in the web world over Internet Explorer 8 and web standards. For an introduction to what the fuss is about, go to A List Apart’s issue #251 and read both articles.
The ensuing backlash has been large and heated. Digital Web has collected some of the reactions.
Here’s my take on things: it’s a mixed bag. It’s an imperfect solution to a horrendous problem. Internet Explorer has the distinction of being the ubiquitous browser on the web, while having the worst web standards support of any browser. It’s a catch-22: if IE’s developers push for quality web standards support in IE 8 (which, by all accounts they are), they will break the many sites out there that were not designed with web standards in mind. Let’s face it: a lot of the web is built only for IE, and people will be confused and outraged if IE 8 breaks their poorly built–but functional–sites. On the other hand, focusing too much on keeping existing sites working will ensure that IE 8 continues to lag far behind in its support for web standards.
So, version targeting is an imperfect solution to an imperfect web. I wish that it wasn’t necessary, but I know that I’ll be using it right alongside my conditional comments and CSS hacks to design sites built on web standards that work in all the major browsers, even if I have to kick the crap out of IE to make it cooperate. Maybe I’ll only have to ask it now.