Microsoft slates IE8 Beta 2 for next quarter

Web designers and site operators should start adding a compatibility tag to their site's HTML code

Microsoft will release a second beta of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) before the end of October, said a manager in its technical support group, who also warned Web designers to start adding a new tag to their sites or risk those sites "breaking" when the new browser ships.

"We are encouraging site administrators to get their sites ready now for broad adoption of Internet Explorer 8, as there will be a beta release in the third quarter of this year targeted for all consumers," said Nick MacKechnie, a senior manager for Microsoft's New Zealand operations, in a blog entry earlier this week.

IE8, the follow-on to 2006's IE7, was released in Beta 1 nearly three months ago. Since then, Microsoft has not specified a target for a second preview, although it has regularly posted progress notes and other information about the new browser on a company blog.

MacKechnie also told Web designers and site operators to start adding a compatibility tag to their site's HTML code or those sites may not display properly when viewed in the new browser.

IE8, Microsoft said in early March, will default to a standards-compliant rendering of Web content -- an approach that had been pushed by site developers -- rather than a mode that stresses compatibility with IE7.

The new tag, which can be applied on a per-page basis or site-wide, instructs IE8 to display the content as would IE7.

"Browsing with this default setting [in IE8] may cause content written for previous versions of Internet Explorer to display differently than intended," MacKechnie said. "This creates a call to action for site owners to ensure their content will continue to display seamlessly in Internet Explorer 8."

The first beta of IE8 is not exactly in widespread use. According to the latest data from Web metrics company Net Applications Inc., IE8 Beta 1 accounted for just .02 percent of all browsers used last month. IE7, by comparison, held the top spot with a market share of 45.9 percent.

IE8 Beta 1, which runs in Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008, can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.

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Gregg Keizer

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