Microsoft has announced that they have listened and acted upon feedback received from the web design community with regards to their proposed version targeting in IE8.
Just to recap, Microsoft had decided that IE8 would render pages by default as IE7 and standards savvy web developers would have to explicitly opt in to version targeting by means of a meta tag or HTTP header in order for IE8 to render a page as IE8.
Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager, Internet Explorer
We've decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we've posted previously.
So now IE8, by default, will render a page as IE8 when in standards mode. The "X-UA-Compatible" meta tag or HTTP header will now be used to initiate an IE7 rendering mode in IE8.
With regard to the "breaking the web" dilemma it would seem Microsoft are putting a lesser weighting on that in favour of appeasing the web standards community. This u-turn will no doubt cause more problems for websites but I'm hopeful that the leap we noticed in terms of the rendering changes from IE6 to IE7 will be less so moving from IE7 to IE8. But until a beta is released this is of course speculation.