There is a storm coming on the web...
... and Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software and the author of the blog Joel on Software has summed it up in a brilliant post on his blog. It's a little long but if you are a web developer or are even mildly interested in what is happening with web standards you really should read Martian Headsets. Be patient and read through his analogy because in the second half of the article he gets to the root of the problem.
As I am currently in the process of building a web based application for public use it has a huge impact on me. Should I compromise the application's UI because I can't get the flexible data presentation grid that works everywhere?
I could build a Flash based interface but there are a large number of browsers in corporate environments that block Flash and it doesn't appear Flash will be an option on the iPhone any time soon. That's a market that I would like my application to be able to run in.
I know I'm going to support IE7, Firefox and Safari - which in itself is a huge amount of work, but is IE8 going to throw a wrench in that plan? The appeal to building web based applications over client based applications is that users don't have to download anything and you can build them to work on virtually any OS that has a good web browser. The definition of a "good web browser" is already suspect - with IE8 it may be nearly impossible.