Compatibility View List and IE8 RTW

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Compatibility View List and IE8 RTW

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I’ve blogged about the Compatibility View features included in Internet Explorer 8 a few times during the Beta 2 and Release Candidate milestones. Now that Internet Explorer 8 has released, I wanted to follow-up with a quick post highlighting the content that’s been created on MSDN regarding the Compatibility View List.

To review, Internet Explorer 8 includes a suite of features under the umbrella term ‘Compatibility View’. These features give users a way to mitigate website compatibility problems they may encounter while browsing the web – compatibility issues often caused by Internet Explorer 8’s better implementation of web standards. By default, Internet Explorer 8 displays content in its most standards compliant way and this can cause compatibility problems on websites that still expect the older, less interoperable behavior from IE. Users can override IE’s default behavior by choosing to view a site in Compatibility View - there’s an icon that appears next to the ‘Stop’ and ‘Refresh’ buttons in the address bar that controls this. Overall options for the feature set can be found in the Tools menu.

During the development of Internet Explorer 8, the IE team analyzed Compatibility View button usage telemetry data, paying close attention to the type of compatibility experiences our Beta users were having on high traffic websites. We combined that telemetry data with other feedback sources – customer-filed bugs, Report a Webpage Problem data, our own compatibility testing, etc… - to create a list of high traffic sites that are likely best displayed in Compatibility View. During the first run experience, we offer users the choice to use this Compatibility View List as part of their everyday browsing experience. Visiting websites on the list causes Internet Explorer 8 to display the site in Compatibility View rather than IE8’s default “best standards mode”. In other words, it’s as if the user pressed the Compatibility View button for all sites on the list with the benefit that the end user avoids having to first experience a website compatibility failure to make the determination that these particular sites are best viewed in a non-default manner. You can view the list currently available on your IE installation by typing ‘res://iecompat.dll/iecompatdata.xml’ into the browser’s address bar. Note that the list is only active if the ‘Include updated website lists from Microsoft’ check-box at Tools --> Compatibility View Settings is selected.

Coinciding with the release of Internet Explorer 8, we’ve created a content store on MSDN that discusses the finer-grain details of the Compatibility View List. There you can find answers to common questions –

  • What process did the Internet Explorer team follow to create the list?
  • Is my site / domain on the list?
  • How do I remove my site / domain from the list?

We’ve also created a tracking spreadsheet that provides a living history of sites on the list – domain name, when the site was added, and the current status. The Compatibility View List is updated on a regular cadence (in a period mirroring IE security updates, approximately every 2 months) and the status field helps site owners determine whether the currently shipping version has satisfied the removal request or whether the removal request will happen in an upcoming version of the list.

In closing, we on the IE team greatly appreciate all of the feedback you’ve provided regarding Compatibility View. That feedback has helped us create a feature set that meets two important goals of the release, goals that are often at odds: improved interoperability through a better implementation of web standards *and* providing a great user experience on existing websites. Please keep the feedback coming.

Scott Dickens
Program Manager

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