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The thing with conditional comments is this:
Absolutely fine if the document is served as text/html. Although you will have to keep track of additional css-files.
If the document is served as XML, the conditional comments produce parser errors (Yes. It’s still a proprietary technique from MS).
And imho a hack is not a hack. Using the standard implementation of CSS to feed different styles to different browsers is perfectly good (e.g. the child selector).The ’* html’-hack in fact is a nonsense rule. Correctly interpreted it can’t apply to any element.
And for anyone who is interested in CSS-hacks/-filters should read this article: Pandora’s Box (Model) of CSS Hacks And Other Good Intentions [by Tantek Celik]