After years of having one of the worst mainstream browsers in the world Microsoft might actually be working on making it better. The latest so called version of IE is supposed to pass the ACID2 Test as discussed in this article. If this is true and IE8 will actually move towards being standard compliant this will make web developers lives, myself included, much easier.
Anyone who has done web development knows that IE has always been different than the other browsers and in many cases just doesn’t work. Web developers are constantly finding quirks and having to figure out ways to work around them. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that IE has no web developer tools to help you figure out what it doesn’t like. By contrast Firefox has many very useful web development tools. Two very powerful tools are Firebug and Web Developer.
Many innovative features that have been added to the W3C specs as well as implemented by browsers are not able to be used due to IE’s lacking support. If IE8 were to finally make an effort to support them and fix many of its quirks it would make the Internet a better place.
The fact that Microsoft fixed just about nothing between version 6 and 7 and was very similar between 5 and 6 goes to show their dedication to improvement. After reading about the changes you see that they only fix the most criticized bugs which amounted to about 200 bwetween 6 and 7. IE should still be considered version 5.5 at best, not looking at the steps up to version 5. By contrast Firefox fixed 11,000 issues already between Firefox 2 and 3 and was more compliant and stable to begin with (article).
Rather sad that the most widely used browser is not kept up better considering that Microsoft has more than enough capital and staff to make it happen. Instead of doing it on their own they have to receive massive criticism before actually doing anything. Would be nice if they could be on the innovation side of things instead of holding it up.