We already saw that some 2400+ websites have issues with the new IE 8 browser. To be clear, these 2400+ websites don't render properly in IE 8 due to the fact that IE 8 is now more standards compliant. When we users upgrade to IE 8 when its released, its going to be difficult to browse the web as many websites are not yet standards compliant. You can put the blame on Microsoft and argue that it was/is Microsoft's fault. With so many websites failing, Microsoft has to help itself from the 'breakdown of web' when IE 8 is released.
IE 8 Compatibility Mode
By default all websites are rendered in IE 8 standards compliant mode, but when users have issues with websites that don't render properly, they can easily switch in and out of compatibility mode which renders that website in IE 7 mode
It is now easier to deal with websites that have issues with IE 8, especially when its not standards compliant. But its going to be really painful when users need to change the compatibility settings for each website they visit.
Microsoft has come up with a neat solution for this in the IE 8 RC1 release.
Microsoft's IE 8 Compatibility List
Microsoft has come up with list of websites that still have problems with the new browser, added by users (IE 8 beta testers) . Most of these websites were collected using customer feedback in the beta program
The next public update of IE8 (for Windows Vista- and Windows XP-based operating systems as well as the Windows 7 Beta) includes improvements to Compatibility View that help end-users when they visit web sites that are not yet ready for IE8's new, more standards-compliant defaults
This new update would automatically put those websites in the compatibility list and render them accordingly and users need not worry about anything
And those 2400+ list what we reported earlier was nothing but this IE 8 Compatibility List. This long list will be updated and sites will be added as and when needed by Microsoft. This doesn't mean that the websites are poorly maintained or IE 8 is a product in distress - but all it means is that, even though the websites have some issues, IE 8 can still render them properly using the new compatibility view and end users can still enjoy the browsing experience
Enabling this Compatibility List in IE 8 RC1
You can choose to use this compatibility list either in the initial IE 8 setup process or from the Compatibility View Settings dialog
In the IE 8 initial setup process
In the Compatibility View settings dialog - You can open this dialog from Tools menu
As you can see in the above screenshot, you can choose not to use this list if you want
How to view this list
If you do like to see the list, you can do so by pointing your browser (IE 8) at res://iecompat.dll/iecompatdata.xml
How you as a User can help Microsoft?
If you find a website that is having some issues with IE 8, you can report the problem to Microsoft using this Report a Webpage Problem Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta Add-On
You can access this from your Tools menu
Microsoft understands that this is a huge step for the company to push a Web Browser which now supports standards unlike its earlier versions. And its not going to be easy as many websites which were built to support Internet Explorer aren't standards based. Without this Compatibility List, its going to be hard for users to switch on the compatibility mode for each website they visit. I think Microsoft has chosen the right thing here not to bring down the user experience.
Meanwhile, it is not going to be easy for the developers to make their website standards compliant. Instead of hurrying to make your website standards compliant, you can specify Compatibility Modes explicitly in your meta tag, either per site basis or per page basis. Below is an example for per page basis
Even if developers dont add this small tweak to their website, the Compatibility List is going to help users have a good browsing experience (unless the website is not in the list)
Before ending this long post, how is Opera, the most standards based web browser dealing with websites that dont render properly? Here is an answer straight from Scott Dickens, Program Manager, IE 8 Team
IE8 is not the first browser to consider making website compatibility fixes for specific highly trafficked sites. Opera has "a feature that allows Opera to automatically fix incompatible Web pages" It's "automatically distributed by Opera Software ASA, and can be used to apply fixes to specific Web sites."