I want to preface my question with the fact that I'm only a front-end web developer, so please excuse my gross lack of knowledge in this area.

My company has three webservers: one for development (IIS v6), one for staging (IIS v6), and one for live deployment (IIS v5). Staging is an exact mirror of live.

When I compare the staging and live web pages side by side in Firefox (3.6), the pages are identical. However, when I compare the staging and live pages with Internet Explorer (8), there are major differences...

  • In staging, the squares for bulleted lists are small. In live, the squares are big.

  • In staging, the borders for tables are thick. In live, the borders are thin.

  • In staging, an ASP generated image is the proper height. In live, the image is cropped at the bottom by about 10px.

In the end, the layout on live became broken because of these tiny differences, but why?

Does the fact that live is on the older IIS 5 and staging is on the newer IIS 6 account for the small variance in display? And is there any way I can change this server side?

Also, is there any reason why Firefox displays both correctly and IE displays both incorrectly?

  • Sounds vaguely like the live system has/had hacks in place to make IE show the same layout as standards compliant browsers, and they are now messing with your new page.
    – Chris S
    Dec 21, 2010 at 18:46
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    Its because IE is truly a honorable browser that causes web designers/developers over the world to spend countless hours trying to work around its rendering of WC3 standards.
    – Fergus
    Dec 21, 2010 at 19:47
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    This is an HTML rendering question, voting to close and move to the Webmasters stack exchange where people will better know the answers. Also, a URL to the site in question would be nice so we can actually see what you're referring to in the concrete rather than the abstract. Dec 21, 2010 at 19:47
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    Why are you running different versions for development and staging compared to live? That's just asking for things to break and oddly enough, that appears to be exactly what has happened. BTW, staging is NOT an exact mirror of live if they run different versions of the server. Dec 21, 2010 at 20:34
  • I had similar problems checkout webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/13622/…
    – jimjim
    Aug 19, 2011 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


To answer my own question, the problem was with how Internet Explorer handles compatibility mode on intranet sites.

Even though my web.config and my HTML code specified to always set IE=Edge (most recent rendering engine), the Internet Explorer browser itself has ultimate control over the rendering, and its default is to have intranet sites rendered in compatibility mode.

By tweaking my IE view options, I was able to reverse this rule and thus make the rendering consistent between Dev/Staging servers and Live.

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