The cat’s out of the bag, how will IE8 support both old and new sites?

After the recent announcement regarding a pre-release version of IE8 passing the Acid2 test, I’ve been wondering how they were going to keep good on their promise of "don’t break the web" with so many sites out there specifically designed to compensate for IE’s many shortcomings. Well, Chris Wilson has just let the cat out of the bag over on the IE Blog. In short, if you want your page to render in IE8 in full hi-fidelity standards compliant wonder, you’ll need to include a special <meta> tag in the page’s <head>. Simple enough, and I agree with Chris’ take on it regarding allowing web developers to introduce IE8 site changes on their schedule, not their users’.

I’m sure there will be those who think this method is another abomination by Microsoft but personally I think it’s a step in the right direction. Writing pages to target a specific versions of browsers is what we do already, Microsoft are simply providing us with a far more elegant way to achieve this.

I personally think IE8 will herald a bigger change to the immediate future of the web than other much lauded technologies like Silverlight and RIAs. If it delivers on its promises, it will finally free up web designers and developers to more completely exploit the richness inherit in web standards today, and hopefully banish the use of table tags for layout forever!

Also checkout the great article on A List Apart regarding this latest development.