Thursday, May 28, 2009
There's been alot of recent buzz around HTML5 due to Google's recent endorsement. I'm, without a doubt, an open source advocate. Yet I'm not at all excited. Here are some facts.

  • IE 8 doesn't include any meaningful HTML5 support.

  • IE's general market share is still around 70%.

  • IE's corporate market share is much higher (probably at least 85%).

  • Microsoft has dragged its heels on implementing HTML5 in IE.

  • IE 8 was just released.

  • IE 9 would be the first version to contain the HTML5 feature set (or some meaningful number of HTML5 features).

  • IE 9 is likely at least 1.5 years away.

  • Corporations don't upgrade their browsers very quickly (some are still on IE 6).

  • Corporations who currently use IE are unlikely to switch browsers for fear of incompatible applications.

  • As developers, we can only target a browser feature if our users have a browser that supports it. In other words, HTML5 will have to reach a certain critical mass or threshold until developers can write apps that use HTML5 features.

So, for business applications that have to support IE (i.e. almost all of them), when can we expect to be able to deliver an HTML5 web application? Let me take a shot at an optimistic timeline.

This is a very optimistic timeline. It relies on MS releasing IE 9 much faster than they released IE 8. It relies on IE 8 including meaningful HTML5 support (video and canvas tags). It relies on corporations adopting IE relatively fast. So an optimistic timeline means we can start delivering HTML5 apps in 2013. Pessimistically... 2014 or later. In that time, how much further will Flash and Silverlight have come? Three years ago Silverlight didn't even exist. At Microsoft's rate of investment, imagine what Silverlight will be able to do in 2013.

What could change this? Perhaps corporations will start to deploy multiple browsers (say both IE and FF). Perhaps Microsoft jumps wholeheartedly into HTML5. Neither seems very likely. Is there something else that will spur corporate adoption of a HTML5 compliant browser?


  • Alan Plante

    Interesting read about HTML5 and some comments by Adobe's CEO - http://www.infoq.com/news/2009/06/will-html-5-kill-flash

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