Last week, Mozilla VP of products Jay Sullivan indicated that HTML5 would eventually replace Adobe Flash. Along with Mozilla Firefox, every browser maker out there seems to be jumping on the bandwagon of HTML5, a term that has become the most overused buzzword in the tech industry.
But HTML5 is more than just the "trend de jour," says Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer. The web language is enabling developers to create richer native web experiences, complete with video and audio and multimedia without the need for clunky third-party apps and plug-ins like Adobe Flash. "You can play buzzword bingo with HTML5 all day long," Gavin says. "Simply put, HTML5 is part of the secret sauce that is going to unlock and move forward a new set of web experiences."
Today, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9, the browser's latest iteration, and like its Mountain View competitors Firefox and Google Chrome, Microsoft is fully focused on the power of HTML5. With billions of users now upgrading to these HTML5-supported browsers, what kind impact will that have on the web? And could it mark the end of Adobe Flash, as Firefox has said?
According to Gavin, one of the most important features of HTML5 is scalability. Before when developers built web pages, they had to make sure the coding worked across all platforms, which often meant rejiggering their site "over and over and over," says Gavin. "We want the same markup that you write for IE to work across Firefox, across Chrome, across Safari." That would mean less work and headaches for developers, and more freedom for users, who will be able to access these web experiences seamlessly across any number of devices, be they mobile phones or tablets, many of which (e.g. iPads, iPhones) are not designed to run Flash.
Is the industry heading away from Flash and toward HTML5? "I think of it as an accordion effect," Gavin says. "What you're seeing now with HTML5 and plug-ins like Flash and Silverlight is, I believe, simply a compression of that accordion, where the capabilities of HTML5 are getting closer to the current capabilities of plug-ins."
"History can be our guide on this one," he continues. "There's nothing to suggest in history that you won't see an expansion of that accordion—of new capabilities to come, where the boundaries of the web might get pushed over time. It'll be interesting to see that next expansion, if indeed that does take place."
Gavin specifies that he does believe that plug-ins will always be able to innovate faster than a "consensus-driven worldwide-standards process" like HTML5. "However, I don't have a crystal ball," he says.
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