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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Google, Apple and Microsoft Showing Off HTML Capabilities

Google has created an (only subtly branded, mostly trying to be neutral looking) HTML5 showcase, presentation and tutorial called HTML 5 Rocks (on a side-note, this site is inaccessible from China).

What exactly HTML5 will be though in popular usage may be decided in new browser and standard battles. Take Apple’s HTML5 showcase, for instance: once you click on the demos using Firefox, a message pops up saying “You’ll need to download Safari to view this demo.” If HTML5 is meant to be a cool cross-browser things solving all our problems, then certainly it would work in more than just Safari, right? (Google too in the first version of their Chrome Experiments showcase site warned you when opening demos in Firefox – which often worked fine – that other browsers than Chrome might cause problems and be risky to use.)

Microsoft, too, is giving developers a taste of their version of the future with the latest preview of Internet Explorer 9. As Ars Technica says, it brings “support for HTML5 <video> and <audio> elements, 2D graphics using the <canvas> element, and support for embedded fonts using the WOFF standard”. Trying to play a preview video of this at the MSDN Blog, you’ll see the button message: “Install Microsoft Silverlight”. (When companies educate us about new technologies, it’s worth keeping in mind that they may be at least partially self-interested, and buttons like these are a good reminder that interests among competitors aren’t fully aligned.)

Now, if it’s true that browser companies do get together in more standards consolidation, in another area in the meantime – the one of mobile applications, including devices like the iPad – we’re seeing a move away from the open web and towards more fragmented device-specific app store programs. Let’s see if in 2015, when (hypothetically speaking) an element like Video or Canvas finally works in 99% of the browsers, mainstream consumers aren’t already accessing most of their software through walled gardens of Chrome Extensions Web Stores/ Apple Stores/ Geolocation IP-Restrictions/ Facebook apps.


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