The H was one of several sources to report on a new test for the emerging HTML5 standard from the Web’s own standards body, the W3C. The Register crafted the emphasis in their lede a bit differently, calling out the latest beta release of Microsoft’s IE 9 as topping the tests. Both sites, however, go on to clarify just how limited the W3C test suite is. The canvas tag, useful for vector based animations comparable to Flash, is about the only advanced functionality it tests out of the most interesting features of HTML5 or the additional technologies often incorrectly lumped under that label.
I have two thoughts about these test results. First is that they say more about the decreasing relevance of the W3C. This effort just doesn’t reflect the state of the art across all of the modern browsers embracing HTML5 and related technologies like CSS3. How does leaving out key features like client-side rich data storage and more robust models for using multiple processing threads in the browser say anything about the state of adoption? It certainly doesn’t help the web application developers looking for help in how best to deal with the gaps as the specs and their various implementations mature.
The other thought relates to a story on which I initially wasn’t going to comment. Several sources, including ZDNet, have made much hay out of the lack of coverage of Silverlight and the increased attention to HTML5 at Microsoft’s developer conference, PDC. ZDNet in particular spoke with Bob Muglia, president in charge of the server and tools business inside the Redmond giant. He made it pretty clear that Silverlight has not played out as hope, as an effective Flash killer–or even competitor. In praising HTML5 as the more ideal cross platform play, I think it is telling he mentions Apple’s mobile OS specifically. In another six months, given its recent uptick in adoption, I could easily see him adding Android to that remark.
Microsoft got spanked by the open web before, despite trying to crush its main commercial representative at the time, Netscape. I don’t hold out great hope that IE 9 will offer a smoother experience for web application developers than its predecessors but Microsoft’s latest attempt to re-enclose the web has is thankfully dying quietly. For the time being, Microsoft simply doesn’t have a better option than to invest engineering effort into HTML5 and other open web standards. The longer they are forced to do so, the harder any future attempts to subvert or replace those standards will be.