HTML5 has won the browser battle

May 4, 2010

At least, for the moment.

The Internet Explorer blog had a post with the following quote:

The future of the web is HTML5. Microsoft is deeply engaged in the HTML5 process with the W3C. HTML5 will be very important in advancing rich, interactive web applications and site design.

There’s been a definite shift in Microsoft’s participation from pre-HTMLWG (essentially none), to early-HTMLWG (co-Chairing, but little else; lots of pushback against basic tenants (or so it seemed to me)), to now (fairly active participation, development, and advocacy).

The transition is complete (at least from the browser perspective). There are other signs of momentum
as well.

In spite of notable, ongoing friction, it seems that there is less general voiced opposition to the very process. Some of this is probably due to fatigue (working group death march syndrome is real as is consensus by exhaustion); some to familiarity (things happen and the world doesn’t end so comfort levels rise); and some is probably due to the new process (and much more active chairing; the new process makes it much easier to formally participate and for alliances to wax and wane over very particular issues and actions).

I count this as positive overall. Not ideal. There have been many an ugly incident. (But I don’t think this is that unusual.) I’m keeping my hopes up for a better, standardized infrastructure for the Web.

Of course, there are many possible veto and failure points still to come. Getting the browser engine developers largely in the same process is a big, healthy step.

(I definitely don’t agree with people who claim that the HTML5 spec is “just a browser spec” or with people who think that browsers engine are somehow not the key bit of HTML software. Yes, there’s lots of other significant category of HTML application, but none are as influential so that their behavior is essentially constitutive of HTML.)

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