Microsoft Introduces IE8 Beta, Touts Web Standards

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"Microsoft is emphasizing interoperability with the beta launch," Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, wrote in a Microsoft blog about IE8. "We've decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we've posted previously.

Internet Explorer 8 will feature full support for cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 at release to manufacturing. The browser includes integrated developer tools to debug HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment. Two new features, Activities and WebSlices, will allow developers to introduce news ways for users to stay connected to the content and services of their choice. To download Internet Explorer 8 beta 1, developers can visit

Hachamovitch in his blog cited regulatory concerns as a motivation for emphasizing interoperability.

"Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles. Thinking about IE8's behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is a better thing to do," he wrote. "We think that acting in accordance with principles is important, and IE8's default is a demonstration of the interoperability principles in action. While we do not believe any current legal requirements would dictate which rendering mode a browser must use, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue. As stated above, we think it's the better choice.

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Recently, the European Union began an antitrust investigation into Microsoft to examine assertions from Norwegian browser maker Opera Software about how Microsoft ensures rival Web browsers are not fully compatible with Internet Explorer, Reuters reported.

Microsoft also said it was making available a beta version of its Silverlight 2 multimedia technology. Silverlight 2 is the next version of Microsoft's competitor to Adobe Systems.