I wrote this a month ago, so it may seem a little out of date. I figured I'd go ahead and post it anyway. If you haven't been following IE8 much, it'll still seem like new
Standards compliance has never really caught on with the vast majority of web developers. Since Firefox hit the streets, more developers have started to pay attention to the ideals behind web standards, but they still don't seem to be doing the work to achieve compliance. Admittedly, a lot of the problems were brought on by IE's acceptance of bad practices, but the root of the problem truly lies with developers. IE7 resolved a number of standards compliance issues, but unfortunately, it broke a number of sites built specifically for IE6 at the same time. IE8 tries to resolve this problem. Today, we can opt-in to standards by specifying a DOCTYPE, which indicates what version of what standard the developer intends for a page. The problem is that no browser to date implements any standard completely, so there's still a chance your page will render differently in browsers that "support" the desired standard. IE8 fixes this problem. How? By allowing developers to write pages for specific rendering engines (i.e. IE6, IE7, IE8, FF2, or FF3). I love this idea, for obvious reasons.
With IE8 and Firefox 3 both passing the Acid2 test and Acid3 on its way, I think we're in very good standing. While I don't expect huge leaps and bounds between IE8 and 9, I think we're well on our way to some form of nirvana on the web. Hopefully, IE9 will come in the Win7 time frame, which I expect to be in 2009 or 10.