Microsoft Broadens IE 8 Bug Hunt

Microsoft continues to squash bugs in its new Internet Explorer 8 Web browser, which was released last week for Windows-based PCs.

Microsoft continues to squash bugs in its new Internet Explorer 8 Web browser, which was released last week for Windows-based PCs.

Bugs that didn't get fixed in the final version of IE 8 are currently under review by Microsoft's Internet Explorer team. The team plans to address those glitches based on user rankings. To better prioritize those bugs, Microsoft announced on Monday that it has opened its IE 8 bug database to the general public.

Microsoft particularly wants to know about any "regression" problems -- that is, cases where something worked fine in the beta but failed in the final or "release to Web" (RTW) version. Top-ranked bugs include one associated with setting opacity in the browser, as well as script tags that cause alignment problems, users say.

If a user can't find a particular bug listed in the Microsoft Connect bug database, they can submit them for verification by Microsoft's Internet Explorer team. New bug reports get reviewed by the team at Microsoft's Internet Explorer discussion group here.

Microsoft also published a compendium of knowledgebase articles associated with IE 8 here, including how to remove IE 8.

In the next two months, Microsoft plans to release a new feedback form. Currently, the team relies on user-submitted bug reports, automated feedback from the browser and a new IE add-on called the "Report a Webpage Problem Tool."

The Report a Webpage Problem Tool, which can be downloaded here, adds a button on IE's toolbar. The button takes a screenshot of a Web site when pressed, and users have the option or not of sending the image to Microsoft.

The IE team also said on Monday that it submitted new test cases to a W3C committee that works on cascading style sheet recommendations. Microsoft has so far submitted 7,201 cases to the CSS 2.1 Working Group.

"We believe that IE8 has the first complete implementation of CSS 2.1 in the industry and it is fully compliant with the current CSS 2.1 test suite," wrote Jason Upton, test manager for Internet Explorer, in the team's blog. He urged other browser makers to submit test cases to the W3C too.

The IE team claimed that at least 11 of the W3C's CSS 2.1 tests were fixed as a result of Microsoft's feedback.

Still, compliance with W3C recommendations doesn't necessarily mean that problems disappear. A Register article noted that IE 8 currently fails the Acid3 test, which tests a browser's HTML rendering capabilities. IE 8 trailed other leading browsers in Acid3.

Other browser makers, such as Opera Software, have also touted W3C spec compliance, noting how a lack of compliance makes life tough for Web developers. An Opera blog even took credit for driving Microsoft to embrace standards.

Lately, Microsoft has drawn criticism for IE 8's speed, particularly in executing JavaScript. The company earlier published its benchmarking criteria for measuring browser speeds and claimed that many of the common tools to measure JavaScript speed are inadequate.

Surprisingly, Opera's blog agreed with that later point. For instance, the blog described Apple's SunSpider as an "artificial" JavaScript benchmark.

"And I actually agree," the blog's author wrote concerning Microsoft's complaint. "Artificial JavaScript benchmarks do not reflect real-world usage. They are nice marketing tools for browsers optimized specifically for those benchmarks, of course."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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