Okay peeps, this Microsoft version targeting nonsense is getting way out hand. Get a grip, please. Lets look at the good, the bad and what’s reality.
- Microsoft is likely to push new browsers into the market faster by including it in an automatic update with no notification to opt in. Companies with testing requirements would need to opt out. In fact it will happen this way for IE7 in a few weeks. Testing for more that three version of IE will become very unlikely.
- The metatag will allow versions to be set to infinity (IE=edge). If you can implement web sites to standards then it’s likely you won’t have to change much in future versions if anything at all. (Can we block beta versions?)
- Less pressure to fix flaws of newly released version of IE.
The Not So Good:
- Once a version is set I can envision it being very difficult to change the version number, up or down. Many clients will resist forking out the extra cash needed to ‘tweak’ the site. If a site is set to a IE version it’s very probable that the site is not standards compliant.
- We will have to add the meta tag. Not adding it will force all future versions of IE to render as IE7.
- Adoption of web standards may lose momentum. (This in my view is a tenuous statement at best)
- Progressive enhancements are hampered when a IE version is targeted.
- Browsers that can’t be targeted will still require maintenance for new releases. Clients are not going to love coughing up the cash for ‘minority’ browsers dropping the ball (this will vary per country).
Of course the good have problems and the bad we can live with, well, some may still feel the need to commit seppuku. The whole automatic browser update spiel may just fizzle out after a couple of updates. Less pressure to fix flaws in new browser versions could translate to not fixing them at all. Upgrading sites to a newer version will be less awkward and more manageable than that it is now.
Living on the ‘IE=edge’ may turn into a nightmare for some because futureproofing is not as easy as some seem to think it is. Aaron Gustafson’s argument that IE=edge is for experimental sites is simply ridiculous in my opinion. All browsers other than IE are in effect in ‘edge’ mode. I’m sure he didn’t mean to suggest that Safari, Firefox and Opera are experimental and on the mad wacky side of web browsing. He may have meant that most developers couldn’t code a front-end to save their life and so IE’s to come will break the Internet entire. Microsoft feels it must appease their pain in the ass, to stupid to live clients. In the end targeting is Microsoft’s PR for their clients but we do benefit from the methode they have chosen. Small sites or sites with a smallish template set I can build using IE=edge and for the larger projects I will most certainly target a version of IE.
In one slick move Microsoft has been able to shut those pesky clients up and provide us a way to better manage, build and test the number one browser on the planet.
Update: Changed the last section so that it made a bit more sense and less vitriolic.
Additional note: John Resig has some interesting observations on version targeting that does make one wonder and worry. However, Chris Wilson seems to wave those concerns to the side with a very interesting comment post.