As the browser wars heat up, the latest buzzword seems to be HTML5. Microsoft has a whole site filled with HTML5 demos, Apple is expecting everyone to ditch Flash and adopt HTML5 for web video, and everyone else is also busy implementing support for the new standard. Here’s the thing, though. According to Philippe Le Hegaret of the World Wide Web Consortium (as quoted by InfoWorld), the standard isn’t yet ready for prime time.
That’s not a sensational paraphrase. Le Hegaret said quite plainly, "I don’t think [HTML5]’s ready for production yet . . . The real problem is can we make [HTML5] work across browsers and at the moment, that is not the case." He went on to say HTML5 will only be "feature-complete" by the middle of next year, and the spec won’t receive "final approval" for—wait for it—two or three years.
Of course, considering the current state of the browser wars, I doubt the standard’s incomplete nature will preclude early mainstream implementations. But as Le Hegaret points out, web developers won’t be able to count on all of their users running HTML5 browsers for quite a while. Net Applications figures show that Internet Explorer 6 still commands a 15.6% usage share on the web, for example, and that browser has been obsolete for about four years. Browsers that aren’t HTML5-capable could take just as long to phase out.