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The compatibility problems are not in the core language (which is surprisingly portable between browsers), but in the DOM API. This can be solved by a compatibility layer library like JQuery, Prototoype et al. Joel claims that this layer slows JS an order of magnitude, which is greatly exaggerated. The difference between calling the DOM directly and through a library is barely noticeable. A very clever compiler could probably optimize some overhead away (e.g. transforming into browsers specific code with the compatibility layer optimized away), but I doubt there would be any major gain speed-wise.

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