HTML 5 is the next generation of the hypertext markup language standard that is used to produce content on the Web. It originally emerged from the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) and is presently undergoing editing through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The HTML 5 specification describes a number of important emerging Web features, including the Canvas and Video elements. Some aspects of HTML 5 are already widely implemented in modern browsers.
The de facto standard of what a web page looks like belongs to Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer browser has about 70-percent market share. What has been Microsoft’s involvement in this important web standard?
Microsoft originally declined an invitation to join WHATWG early in the process of defining HTML 5. Microsoft’s involvement has been minimal and the company has largely declined to comment on its intentions with regard to implementation.
So, if Microsoft isn’t involved, and Apple, Mozilla (Firefox), and Google can’t agree on the all important video and audio elements in HTML 5 (still a work in progress), what’s left except prayer and divine intervention?
Google’s Mark Pilgrim (a member of the HTML 5 standards group):
On August 7, 2009, Adrian Bateman (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Program Manager) did what no man or woman had ever done before: he gave substantive feedback on the current editor’s draft of HTML5 on behalf of Microsoft. His feedback was detailed and well-reasoned, and it spawned much discussion. As you might expect, much of the discussion [on the HTML 5 draft] since August 7 has been driven by Microsoft’s feedback. After five years of virtual silence, nobody wants to miss the opportunity to engage with a representative of the world’s still-dominant browser.
Is Microsoft having a change of heart? Or, is this merely another episode in Redmond’s EEE approach to standards? Embrace. Extend. Extinguish?
Why is all this important? Audio and video. Your browser plays the various audio and video formats through browser plugins. At best, performance is problematic. At worse, crash happy. Worse, there is no definitive standard code for presenting audio and video in HTML or XHTML that is supported by every major browser. HTML 5’s specification aims to change that. Microsoft’s Bateman:
We support the inclusion of the video and audio elements in the spec.
Whoa. What’s up with that? Change of heart? Writing on the wall? Is it all that important anyway? For now, Internet Explorer is the only major browser without support for the HTML 5 video element. Ryan Paul:
Microsoft’s increased involvement in the HTML 5 draft process reflects the growing importance of the emerging standard. The mainstream browser vendors appear to unanimously agree that it’s time for the Web to move forward and deliver a richer platform for users and developers. If Microsoft gets fully behind the HTML 5 video and audio elements, it would be a major step towards opening multimedia on the Web and undermining the dominance in this field of proprietary browser plugins.
Do miracles happen? Has Bill Gates become an angel of light? When will all the browser makers get on board with a specification that renders web pages, more or less, the same in every browser?
When pigs fly.