This post was written a while ago (May 2009) and hence the information presented below may have less relevance compared to new practices since the original publish date. Please take this into consideration when reading the information below.

Internet Explorer 8 and CSS3


In the past month or so I have wrote three articles/tutorials on various CSS3 elements that the developers of CSS3 have been working on, I’ve shown you some of my favourite new features such as the border-radius attribute and box-shadow, but I have had to stress on each article that only certain browsers will allow to use CSS3 modules and elements. The main two browsers that have supported CSS3 along it’s on going development path are Mozilla Firefox and Safari, both using there own frameworks the moz and webkit.

One browser however, that seems to be shadowed by the rest is Internet Explorer. Some people that read this may already be disgusted by me mentioning the name (Possibly Forbidden in some Web-Dev religions) but I couldn’t help but notice, that Internet Explorer 8 seem to be holding back on implementing CSS3, and while that might be due to the fact that CSS3 isn’t finished yet, Mozilla Firefox and Safari seemed to have taken up the challenge and thanks to them people are able to see CSS3 in action as it develops.

Recently Internet Explorer 8 hit the scenes, and while it’s not my favorite browser to begin with, Windows Update wanted me to update and I wasn’t going to say no, after all I may be writing a fairly long post about just browsers, but I don’t geek out about them, It’s just something I think it’s pointless to argue about. However I did geek out when I found that Call Of Duty World at War (It’s not COD5!) was being developed by Treyarch rather than Infinity Ward, but thats a different story and possbily constitutes a different blog post altogether. But back to the whole Internet Explorer story.

Internet Explorer 8 is no longer in BETA now, so it’s officially been released, and although I don’t like it much, I will say that it is much more compliant with W3 Standards than say IE7. Doing a bit of comparision IE8 and Firefox 3 display webpages similar, which probably shows that IE8 has become more complaint with standards, but my point isn’t about how the browser functions, or how it displays webpages no. The point that im getting at is how I think Internet Explorer is going (If not already) getting left behind in browser race.

How did I come to that conclusion? I opened my eyes. Microsoft realeases new versions of it’s browser every 2-3 years (Roughly) to end any disagreements on this lets say not exactly regularly, yes updates for Internet Explorer x version do appear of Windows Update from time to time, but really these updates are simply bug fixes or patches to fix bugs that have been reported or possible expliots, but really Microsoft don’t update Internet Explorer like other browsers like Mozilla Firefox. They don’t make revisions and this leads my main point, how can Internet Explorer possibly keep this cycle when CSS3 is in development, okay so CSS3 isn’t finished yet, modules and features are still being revised and added, but would it really hurt to start adding some CSS3 support, and I mean the pseudo elements not just the box standard ones.

Im going to use Mozilla Firefox as a example here again, during the whole CSS3 development period, they have been keeping up with the new modules and elements introduced in CSS3, but there not the only ones following the development of CSS3. Apple’s browser Safari has also been keeping up and adding in CSS3 support. The latest version Safari Beta 4, as added in alot of new CSS3 stuff, and hence why many websites that are show casing various CSS3 elements (James’ Blog) included will note that the effect can be seen in either Mozilla Firefox or Safari. This can also be seen by the use of the webkit and moz attributes that we currently have to use to get the effect. However, soon we will be able to use the attribute without having to declare the moz and webkit. Have I completly lost you? Here’s what I mean:

Taking any random CSS3 element lets choose the box-shadow, in order for someone to use the effect and see the result in a CSS3 implemented browser they would have to use this code:

-moz-box-shadow: 15px 15px 0px #999;
-webkit-box-shadow: 15px 15px 0px #999;

The moz declaration is for Mozilla Firefox and the webkit declaration is for Safari. So at the moment for anyone wanting to use CSS3 in a template (Which I wouldn’t recommend) they will have to keep declaring both the moz and webkit for them to show up in both browsers which in this case is Mozilla Firefox and Safari. But when CSS3 is fully baked so to speak we will all be able to use the box-shadow element on it’s own without declaring the moz or webkit.

But until then anyone writing articles or tuts on various CSS3 stuff will have to use both declarations, which granted makes your stylesheet look messy, but it’s temporary.

But Internet Explorer 8 doesn’t include any CSS3 elements like box-shadow, so myself and other people wanting to test out some CSS3 can’t use Internet Explorer 8 as the test browser. Which really, is a wasted opportunity, Microsoft’s whole age issue has been called into question many times, and by that I mean that Microsoft are no longer the budding and exciting generation of a company in the 21st Century anymore, what with Apple and there innovation (No im not a fan boy) Im just saying Microsoft aren’t the exciting company they used to be, yet CSS3 is essentially the next generation of website development and Internet Explorer isn’t getting on board the train to it. I mean even the less popular (But that doesn’t mean there not worth the mention) web browsers such as Opera have CSS3 implementation. Granted not as much as Firefox and Safari, but there making the effort.

To back up my claim of Internet Explorer not being the exciting here’s a graph of Internet Explorer’s usage data from 1996-2008:

IE Usage

Maybe it’s a bit much to look at Microsoft as a company and evaluate it based on it’s browser and, but look at it this way, Internet Explorer has been around for ages. God I can even remember Internet Explorer 4 and 5 on versions of Windows such as 95 and 98. Memories…. But compared to browsers out today, do you think Internet Explorer is a exciting browser? If you said yes, then I’d love to hear your opinion, im not saying your wrong if you say yes, I just think compared to other browsers it isn’t exciting anymore.

I think Internet Explorer has a whole just isn’t exciting anymore, and for years now website developers have constantly bashed it because of the way it displays code. At least Internet Explorer 8 does bring in more validity and W3 Compliance so it actually displays webpages the way every other browser displayed them in the first place. Took team IE a while but they got there in the end, so hats off.

But what do you think. Do you think Internet Explorer 8 should be supporting more CSS3 or do you think Internet Explorer is getting left behind in general. Whatever you think why not comment below. Because Im very interested in what others have to say about the whole IE situation!

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  • propagandhi

    Could not agree more. It’s very frustrating to think that the primary browser installed on your fancy new vista/windows 7/ whatever windows crap machine isn’t capable of rendering newer CSS3 cool stuff.

    Of course I don’t use windows 90% of the time, but it’s in Microsoft’s interest to give features to their users. It’s actually difficult to understand why they have in recent years really dropped the ball on innovation and bleeding edge technology.

  • James

    My words exactly. There really falling behind. For years now I’ve been using Mozilla Firefox as my main browser. There loss if they don’t get in game.

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  • Michael_Zeora

    As much as I and the rest of my web team wish to use CSS3, it’s really the fact as you said, it’s not done yet. that keeps us from it, until then were using CSS2 to keep most browsers happy (and a few work arounds via PHP for IE7, were not even going to support IE6 anymore)

    but yeah, when I do my CSS, I think for Standards First and then IE… as much as IE has given me a headache in coding.

    IE is not by any means intresting or new or even up to stuff. IE6 was considered the de jure standard until FF hit with it’s tabbed browsing, and now IE7 and IE8 use the same idea.

    IE is now having to chase Opera and FF for browser market share, and once CSS3 hits, it’s going to be even harder for them to keep up. I hope for Microsoft’s sake that they are currently working implementing CSS3 in some way and patching it into IE8 or tossing out IE9 within the first year of CSS3′s official standing.

  • James

    Just another commenter I agree with. You summarised my whole points in a nutshell there. I just think CSS3 next generation of website development so that would send a message to IE devs saying right lets get into the game, but no, Internet Explorer still runs on yearly releases and falls behind to rivals like FF who release updates montly.

    If Windows Update didn’t require IE5 or later I wouldn’t use it at all (well I would have to check a website design or change to make sure everything is fine but still)

  • James

    Another major problem is that it takes so bloody long for people to upgrade their version of IE! I mean, LOTS of people are still using IE6 for fucks sake..

    So many people ignore / turn off Windows update that they’re stuck in the stone age. :(

    Is there no solution?

  • James

    Ha ha yeah people that use IE6 are dead to me. But there is one solution, and brick and a hammer!

  • FireDart

    Personally I am going ahead and using CSS3 and HTML5, just seeing what it can do for now, but when it comes time for an official release of both CSS3 and HTML5 I am deploying my new CSS3 and HTML5 site the same day it’s released officially.


  • James

    I did write this article before the whole XHTML and HTML5 news, but I won’t be diving straight into it I don’t think. I’ll think I’ll be reading up on it a bit more before starting to introduce it to my coding. Though it does sound exciting.

  • bodydetox

    Internet Explorer 8 is more stable than IE 7 that is why i like it. I always experience freezing browser window in IE 7.

    • James

      Yes I must admit Internet Explorer 8 is defiantly a improvement. Though you would usually expect that from a new version.

  • Mike Smith

    Internet Explorer 8 is as stable as Opera and Firefox. it does not crash a lot like IE7.

    • James

      I never said anything bad about the browsers intergrity, im more focused on it’s features and you can’t deny it doesn’t support much CSS3 at all.

  • Taylor

    i am pretty much satisfied about the features and stability of Internet Explorer 8. it is much better than IE6 or IE7.

    • James

      So am I, Internet Explorer 8 is much more stable and it has improved on performance, but it’s still yet to support any CSS3.

  • Acnerdz

    Internet Explorer 8 seems to be the best browser for me. I can open more than 20 windows simultaneously without crashing. IE7 and IE6 is unstable that if you open more than windows at a time it just freezes or causes the blue screen.

  • Pamela

    Internet Explorer 8 is so much better than the previous version of internet explorer browser. it is more stable and loads faster.

  • Razel

    i love Internet Explorer 8 because it is so much stable that the previous versions of IE. IE7 sometimes freezes and causes blue screens on my PC.


    IE8 has issues – will not display navigation bars on websites created by publisher. Why? Don’t know. Will show up on IE 7 and Safari. Have contacted several friends that have IE8 & the same – No navigation bars. Why? Still trying to fix – I need help!

  • Marlon

    Internet Explorer 8 is really good. This browser is very very stable and i have been using it for quite a while without blue screens or crashes.

  • WebDeveloper14

    Now I’m not against Microsoft and am an avid Windows users, but from someone who creates webpages all day long, let me say this to your IE users:

    If you use IE, you do not realize that you are missing many elements of that make the webpage look even better… rounded corners, box shadows, and even transparency in many situations all make for a better experience and make things easier to see. If you switch to a different browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), you will likely notice many visual enhancements along along with even more speed improvements! I’ve had to completely remove transparency for IE on many websites because the transparency CSS filter caused the website to run ridiculously slow.

    I often use CSS3 rules when creating websites knowing that IE users won’t see them. It’s just that the time it takes to add rounded corners or box shadows that work with IE is often not worth the effort… thus leaving a much flatter webpage for IE users.

    Getting a web browser that supports the accepted standards would be worth the upgrade for more reasons than one!

  • Johann Blake

    I use several browsers but IE8 is my primary browser. IE8 does tend to render the majority of webpages more accurately than the other browsers even though it implements only half of the CSS3 standard. This is not surprising. Most websites are still built with CSS2.1 or earlier.

    You can run a browser test against CSS3 at:

    Firefox, Chrome and Safari passed all the tests. IE8 didn’t even pass half of the tests and some CSS3 features are reported as buggy.

    As a developer though, I use jQuery which is a Javascript library that relies heavily upon CSS3. Interestingly, jQuery produces better results than Firefox for those CSS3 features that are supported on IE8.

    Microsoft used to be known for supporting the development of industry standards but that seems to have changed over the last several years. Today, volunteer developers are more eager to update Firefox with the latest CSS3 features than Microsoft is, in a quest to get the CSS3 accepted by the community at large.

    Personally, I think that HTML, CSS and Flash are fading out. As Google Android continues to grow, web apps will be written for the native OS because only a native OS can deliver rich desktop UIs. It will be a while though before that becomes accepted by the masses but it has already started.

  • alohatk

    internet explorer not support cc3 i waiting for IE9 to fix this problem, because many people in thailand use IE, according ie 87%, firefox 10% and google chome 3% i’m boring about this so much and i wish W3C have standard to protect war browser, sorry in my english.

  • Gary A.MacDonald

    Ok, IE8 a great browser! Even mentioning the name can get me into serious trouble in my circles yet alone with myself.

    Sure the standards have increased, but its taken lets see, almost 3 years, and in the process, its still about 2 or 3 years behind.

    Exciting? No. Its dribble. Trying to emulate Chrome, Firefox and other REAL browsers out there. Opera has more functionality than IE8.

    No CSS3 compliant! My big beef! Designing pages for Chrome, Firefox and other REAL Browsers is great, but the biggest upset is IE8 in which you have to water things down so that the Sheep still using the sub-standard browser can use it.

  • Web Filter

    Internet explorer is the best and famous browser for net surfing and provide many enhance and creative features. 

  • Web Filter

    Internet explorer is the best and famous browser for net surfing and provide many enhance and creative features. 

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