As you probably already know Internet Explorer 8 is going to be more standards compliant than previous versions of the web browser. While that sounds great to us geeks that understand what that means it also poses a problem for casual computer users who only care whether a site works or not. Thousands and thousands of sites will likely have some sort of visual flaw or possibly not work at all in IE8.
To get around this issue Microsoft lets users switch to a “compatibility view” so that sites are essentially rendered the same way they were in Internet Explorer 7. They can then go a step further by adding it to a list of sites they want the browser to always render using this compatibility view. In my testing this works great, but Microsoft has also decided to provide something that a user can install on their PC to populate this list automatically.
The executable (available for Vista and XP) goes as far as to add over 2,400 different sites that people have reported issues with. Mary Jo Foley has compiled a complete list of the sites that are included, and I thought I’d see how popular the sites are in that list. Using data from Alexa here are some stats you may find interesting:
- 657 of the sites are in the top 1,000 on Alexa (66%)
- 391 of the sites are in the top 500 on Alexa (78%)
- 209 of the sites are in the top 250 on Alexa (84%)
- 92 of the sites are in the top 100 on Alexa (92%)
- 48 of the sites are in the top 50 on Alexa (96%)
- 24 of the sites are in the top 25 on Alexa (96%)
- 10 of the sites are in the top 10 on Alexa (100%)
Crazy, huh? Microsoft is including a huge chunk of the most popular sites in this compatibiltiy list. Even their own sites like microsoft.com, live.com, and msn.com are included.
As it stands right now this list is only available for users who take the time to manually install it. If IE8 was to ship with this included I’m sure there would be more cause for concern, but I’ve been using Internet Explorer 8 RC1 for a few weeks now and I’d say the website compatibility is pretty good. At this point most sites feel like they have fixed any issues with the browser, or at the very least have inserted the necessary code to make IE8 render with the IE7 engine. Although we probably won’t know for sure until it is officially released.