One of the things about a new browser is that various web sites expect particular ID strings to identify browsers they know and get awkward if they don’t recognize the browser ID. So one of the nice things in IE 8 beta 2 is that you can select compatibility mode for particular sites and send the string which says "I am IE 7."
I’ve mentioned a few times that Microsoft has quite a sophisticated set of benefits; employees get to check their payslip on line, and wouldn’t you know it… the payroll system is outsourced and is one of those sites which keels over if confronted with a new browser (actually that makes sense – you don’t want to assume a previously unknown browser will render all your columns correctly when it’s showing people what’s been added to or removed from parts of their pay).
So a quick tip-of-the-hat is due to our finance people.Within a couple of days of beta 2 going live they warned there was a problem. And in some companies that would be it. Want to see your payslip, don’t run beta software. Not here: they went and tested it and came back with the conclusion that, yes IE8 works just fine in IE7 mode, and with instructions on how to configure it. And after my notes on people’s bad mail habits they even sent it out with an opening sentence which lets you triage it correctly: bin it (I don’t use on-line payroll or IE 8) , Act on it now (I’ve just installed IE8 and I use the on-line payroll) or file it for the future (I use on-line payroll, and I’m going to try IE8 sometime)
I said before that letting users put the latest versions of software on their machines before IT have tested everything is the Microsoft way, but it wont’ work for many companies. Notice also that by empowering people in this way, finance deal with issues involving a finance application; I’ve been to companies where this would get stuck between finance and IT for weeks. Getting the testing done up front, involving internal customers (pilot users) and recording the problems and fixes, IS something that everyone can and should do, starting with the sites where you either don’t control the client (that’s outward facing sites where your customers go) or the server (that’s partner/extranet sites where your people go). This is also one of those cases where using sharepoint to create a Wiki works, because the same people -pilot users - have both questions and have answers to share. (See Raymond for why Wikis and the like fail )