Many of you may only just be getting settled into using IE7 or Internet Explorer 7. As web designers it’s an ever increasing issue as to what standard to match when designing a site. Previous versions of the IE have not always met the latest standards set in the industry but many consumers have yet to make the leap. Now we have a new challenge…. IE8!

At this stage, about 50 – 60% of users of our clients sites are using IE7 which is a pretty good pickup rate considering that it really only began being accepted just over 18 months ago. It’s had its fair share of difficulties within the web community with most developers (if not all) preferring to maintain the use of Firefox for the development process.

The 2nd Beta version of IE8 has just been released and we’ve been having a bit of a poke around on it to see what it’s like. Visually it’s not a whole heap different which means that general consumers won’t find it too difficult to adapt too. From everything in Microsoft’s press releases, it should be faster and should meet most, if not all of the W3C standards.

One of the most exciting aspects for me is the prospect of the W3C approving the use of a technology called ‘ Embedded OpenType‘ or EOT. EOT will allow the use of Open Type fonts to be embedded into websites so that designers like us, have the opportunity to expand on the visual aspects of the site design.

To date we have only been able to utilise traditional, universal fonts such as Times New Roman, Verdana and Courier. This makes things highly restrictive and is often why designers elect to use pictures for titles and major text areas rather than HTML text. This in itself creates issues, as much of this information is not readable by either Search Engines, resulting in poor SEO, or worse still is unreadable to text readers which assist disabled users of the web in translating and reading sites to them through specialised software.

Forums and Blogs are filling with tech-heads and net-gurus who are debating the finer inner workings of IE8 and by the looks of things, Microsoft is prepared to listen – something they haven’t been all that flash with in the past. There is no current release date for IE8 but many people predict that it will be aligned to the new Microsoft Vienna (the successor to Microsoft Vista) in early 2010.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much ‘ beta‘ it really is…