Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) was released late last week – another browser, “whoop-dee-do”, right? Well maybe, but, the new browser release is an interesting insight into the way Web development seems to happen in China.
In non-geek speak the new browser uses a new rendering engine which more closely follows open standards such as the Firefox and Safari browsers. This will, and has, caused many popular sites to break around the world – including Microsoft’s own sites. To combat this problem the Redmond company has released an ‘incompatibility list’ which display sites in ‘non-standards’ mode if the tool is downloaded and installed. To keep it simple, ‘non-standards mode’ reverts to the old rendering engines of previous Internet Explorer browsers – IE6 and IE7.
It’s a useful feature, but, what is striking about the list is the high amount of Chinese Web sites on it. Many are high traffic Web sites in China which haven’t updated their code to work with IE 8. For example the recent list included Tencent, Baidu, Sogou, Ku6, Tudou, YouKu, ZDNet China, Taobao, NetEase, 163.com, QQ, and Google China.
I’m not quite 100% sure of the reason; Is it lazy coding? Is it too soon to upgrade the code? Was there not enough testing time? Developers too busy with other priorities, Were Microsoft’s communication channels to Web developers in China poor? Is Internet Explorer 8 not worth targeting in China compared to other browsers? Are Web developers in China poor at building sites that comply to open Web standards?
It’ll be interesting to see where this goes in China, the world’s largest Internet population, in terms of market share for Microsoft. Not only does Redmond have to compete with Firefox, Chrome, and Safari but other browsers popular in China such as Maxthon.
I won’t publish the full list of incompatible Web sites here, because, they are constantly changing, but you can download the most current file from Microsoft here.