It looks like Micorsoft relented somewhat on their version targeting strategy. If IE 8 detects a “standards friendly” doctype, the default rendering mode will be the most up-to-date version available. Previously, without the presence of a version targeting meta tag, the plan was for the IE 7 rendering mode to be the default.
From what I’ve read, if one of the magic doctypes isn’t found, quirks mode will still reign the day (as it should).
Thanks to the many people who kept up on this so the rest of us could have lives.