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Apache and the xml declaration

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I have the following html file
[code]<?xml version = "1.0" encoding = "utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"

<!-- apples.html
     The contents of the apple frame (displayed in second frame of frames.html)
     of frames.html - a general description of fruit
<html xmlns = "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
  <head> <title> Apple Information </title>
      Apple is the common name for any tree of the genus Malus, of
      the family Rosaceae. Apple trees grow in any of the temperate
      areas of the world. Some apple blossoms are white, but most
      have stripes or tints of rose. Some apple blossoms are bright
      red. Apples have a firm and fleshy structure that grows from
      the blossom. The colors of apples range from green to very
      dark red. The wood of apple trees is fine-grained and hard.
      It is, therefore, good for furniture construction. Apple trees
      have been grown for many centuries. They are propagated by
      grafting because they do not reproduce themselves.
When I place this file in the htdocs docs folder of Apache (which I obtained from http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html) and open up IE and go to http://localhost/apples.html, I find that the html file is wrongly displayed as an xml file with a listing of all the tags and their content. But if I take out the xml declaration or alternatively leave the xml declaration in and make the comment at the top to be very short (i.e. <!-- apples.html -->), then IE displays the html file properly. Also if I open up Windows Explorer and navigate to apples.html and double click on it, IE opens up and displays the html file properly.  But yet I can open up http://localhost/apples.html in Firefox and it displays the html file properly even though IE won't. Is the xml declaration causing the html file to be displayed improperly in IE? And why does this problem only occur when I am trying to access it from Apache (i.e. in http://localhost/apples.html)? Any insight that someone could give would be appreciated.


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