Microsoft Snubs Standards with IE8

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 has now been available, downloaded, installed and tested around the world and, so far, the reviews have been OK if not mixed. But a mini-storm could be brewing on the horizon.

When IE 8 dropped on Thursday, many in the development community rushed to download it, install it and try it out on the Acid 3 Test, developed by The Web Standards Project. All over the world, the score was turning up the same for almost everyone. Out of a possible score of 100, IE 8 rang up 20. It failed the test and failed it badly.

What's the early reaction to IE8's performance on Acid3? Well, on Twitter, there's this:

Ugh! Activating that ActiveX control did nothing. IE8 is still 20/100 on Acid3. What a waste.

Or this:

Acid3 test FAIL in Internet Explorer 8. Actually crashed the browser.

Or this:

I did the acid3 test on my wife's phone with 2.2 and got 74/100.

Or this:

So IE8 scores 20/100 on the Acid3 test. The next 8 years should be fun trying to work around the usual IE incompatibilities... :/

Is this all just a bunch of developer psychodrama?

Consider this: Developers cast a vote every day for the technology that will ultimately win out in the marketplace - - the technology that can more than most help them to be successful. Standards help them to be successful. And while IE 8 is scoring 20 out of 100 on the Acid 3 standards test, a company down the coast, in Cupertino, Calif., did just a tad better. Apple's Safari 4 browser scores 100 on Acid 3. They also have a little product called the iPhone that uses Safari, that's enjoying some success.

In and of itself, standards compliance for free software like a browser won't determine the king of the marketplace. But Microsoft is losing market share on the desktop, and its desktop business actually shrunk during its most recent quarter. Right now it could use all the friends it can get. And in a community critical to the technology industry, its longtime rival Apple now has a big advantage.