Two browser-related stories broke while you were all making merry over the festive season. Microsoft, under pressure from agitated developers, finally took steps to ensure compliance for IE8 with web standards, breaking long-held traditions. Then AOL quietly announced that Netscape was being cut loose to pass into the cold hereafter, as they announced the end of support for the once-preeminent browser marque which introduced the world to the Web.

Internet Explorer 8 Compliance to Industry Standards

Internet Explorer has long been lambasted by critics for failing to adhere to industry standards, even prompting Opera to complain to the European Union about their high-hat attitude just before Christmas. But then they released development screen-shots of IE8 passing the Web Standards Project's "Acid2" test, and the news seems to herald increased recognition on the IE team's part for Web Standards. The Acid2 test checks, among other things, whether a browser can 'fix' common CSS errors so that user experience is not spoiled by elementary bad coding. According to the IE group's Dean Hachamovitch: "While supporting the features tested in Acid2 is important for many reasons, it is just one of several milestones for the interoperability, standards compliance and backwards-compatibility that we're committed to for this release." IE8 Beta will be released sometime in the first half of the year, and we are expected to learn more details at MIX08 in Vegas in March.

The End of Netscape

Meanwhile many a tear will be shed over the demise of Netscape, the brand behind the first real browser for the common man. Navigator did more to popularize the Web than Hotmail, Yahoo and Altavista put together. It was helped by the fact that Microsoft was caught cold by the popularization of the web, spending years playing catch-up with Netscape in the browser marketplace. Netscape ultimately went open source and became the direct lineal ancestor of Firefox. So while the name dies, the great platform which Netscape offered lives on. Does your browser pass the Acid 2 test? It's easy to find out... (don't assume that your Firefox will... mine didn't.)