When developing a website on a local machine using localhost or some other non-public domain name, IE 8 will run in Local Intranet Zone mode. By default, Internet Explorer runs in compatibility view mode against any local intranet website. So, if your website does not expect to render in compatibility view mode, you may likely see the website render differently if you are running against the same website in Internet zone and Intranet zone.
You can change this setting as follows:
Open the Page drop menu on the IE 8 toolbar
Choose the Compatibility View Settings option.
On the Compatibility View Settings dialog uncheck the Display intranet sites in Compatibility View checkbox.
Close the dialog and now any website in the intranet zone will display as you might expect.
Initially when encountering this issue it was very confusing, so hopefully this helps someone figure out the issue more quickly :-)
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© Copyright 2011, Nathan Fox