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Developer Apprehensions Around Microsoft modern.IE

Written by  Ritu Saxena | 06 February 2013
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modernIETesting sites for IE has become easier with modern.IE, the new set of tools and resources released by Microsoft, available free of cost to web developers. Another reason to make merry is that Microsoft has partnered with BrowserStack, a browser testing service that lets developers test their site on any browser on any Windows OS for free for a period of three months.

As a part of the offering developers will have access to best practices and sample code for cross browser coding to make things simpler.

Why Microsoft has come up with the free set of tools?

The reason behind the offering as stated by Ryan Gavin, General Manager Internet Explorer

"We recognize that customers on older versions of IE continue to be a real challenge for developers testing their sites, particularly for those developers on non-Windows devices. We want to help. We want the web to move forward. And we genuinely want web developers to spend more time innovating and less time testing. That is where modern.IE comes in." 

IE9 and IE10 are totally different from its predecessors in terms of support for modern web standards like HTML5 and CSS3. And there are Microsoft acknowledged difficulties in testing the websites on legacy versions of IE which are being used till date and the latest ones which can be sorted out using modern.IE. modern.IE also prepares web developers to ensure that their websites are ready for touch centric Windows 8, which drastically changes the way users have been surfing the websites on desktops and tablets. What is the user reaction to this? Do the web developers think that the offering is really useful? Not sure from the musings across the web, the general reaction that I have observed is

Is this some kind of promotion for Windows8?

Some feel the recommendations on the tested websites url, that is probably observed with most of the websites tested, like

“We've found that this webpage has not set the default behaviour for touch-based browsing in Internet Explorer 10 on devices running Windows 8”

“We've found that this webpage hasn't built a Windows 8 Start Screen tile.”

are stunts to promote Windows 8 and its touch centric Metro UI

Does it truly check HTML5 Compatibility?

Some think that the tool does not perform what it promises in terms of checking the HTML5 compatibility. The suggestions like removal of -moz, -ms, -webkit tags, are mostly revolving around MS specific features which are non-standard and are not supported by any other popular browser.

Does modern.UI really matter, with missing IE9/10 not being supported on WindowsXP?

Another common grudge developers have against MS is that IE9 and IE10 are not backward compatible with Windows XP, the most popularly used MS OS after Windows 7, with the current market share being 39.51% among the windows OS’s. So it hardly matters what tools MS is making available to the developers as they still have to code for IE8 so that the website works on Windows XP. Leaving all this apart some feel IE10 could be termed as a Modern Browser in true sense only if it provides support for WebRTC.

Based on developer reactions I feel, with IE9 and IE10 Microsoft has tried to come up to the standards of modern web browsers, wilfully or forcefully, the incompatibility across the various versions of browsers within Microsoft, troubles developers the most. Though modern.IE tries to resolve the testing woes faced by the developers, the development hurdles still remain. Which I guess will remain, until and unless Windows 8 becomes the most adopted OS among the Microsoft offerings.

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Ritu Saxena

Ritu Saxena

Ritu is the technical brain behind the website and comes from a strong development background across Web and Mobile platforms. She is our senior editor primarily responsible for Product Reviews and in future will be leading Start-Ups, Mobile and Quality areas.

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