Confirmation: Internet Explorer 8 beta testing has begun

As selected testers first received invitations from Microsoft yesterday, numerous reports speculated as to the nature of the IE 8 Beta 1 test. Late last night, Microsoft sorted out those reports for BetaNews.

In a response to a BetaNews inquiry, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the Beta 1 testing process for Internet Explorer 8 has begun. To help distinguish it from the public preview process, in which prospective customers are given peeks at how the finished product might work, Microsoft officially calls this a "Techbeta."

But individuals who had either read or were told that the company had launched a beta project for IE 8 on its Connect site, found themselves dismayed to see no such page existed...at least, not for the general public.

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In the case of IE 8, regular Connect users are not being asked to submit solicitations for invitations. Rather, the company already knows who it wants to examine the first builds of IE 8 to be distributed outside the Redmond campus walls.

On the minds of users everywhere is the question of how well IE 8 keeps Microsoft's promise to enable it to adhere to W3C standards. The company's developers have already acknowledged that a kind of de facto standard has already emerged around Web site construction suited for IE 5, back when standards adherence was not so much a company priority. Given that fact, IE 8 is expected to be able to carry on IE 7's "bias" feature of interpreting pages as per IE 5 standards or Web standards.

But this time, earlier alpha builds of IE 8 have been said to pass the Acid2 test, an independently developed test of Web standards adherence that has a browser render a happy face when it follows the rules. Firefox 3 Alpha 1 -- released last year -- was the first Mozilla browser to actually pass Acid2, and IE 8 may be the first of Microsoft's as well.

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