HTML5 is about to take the training wheels off the Web and unleash a new generation of Internet applications. That has Web developers, cloud computing startups, and the big three tech companies — Microsoft, Google, and Apple — salivating over the possibilities for new and improved Web products with desktop-like capabilities.
However, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the official governing body that oversees HTML5, warned the Web community this week that HTML5 is not a ratified standard and that implementing it too soon is not wise.
"The problem we're facing right now is there is already a lot of excitement for HTML5, but it's a little too early to deploy it because we're running into interoperability issues," said Philippe Le Hegaret, W3C interaction domain leader.
"We basically want to be feature-complete by mid-2011," Le Hegaret said. At that point, the W3C will open it up for a final call for comments from members and then move to the recommendation stage. "And then we're done," said Le Hegaret.
That makes it sound like it will probably be early 2012 before this thing is settled.
One of the most popular HTML5 features that has been talked about (and even implemented in a few cases) is its video capabilities, which companies such as Apple are counting on to eventually replace Flash. However, even that is still half-baked at this point.
HTML5 still does not have a video codec. It can't use the popular MPEG-4 format because it has "patent issues" according to Le Hegaret. Google is hoping that it's open source WebM format could become the default, but that is far from settled yet.
The other issue is digital rights management (DRM). HTML5 doesn't have it, because HTML5 is an open standard. Le Hegaret said, "If we are going to develop a solution for DRM which is open, it would be broken by a hacker within two days. There is no point of us doing that." Le Hegaret added that a compromise could be reached on DRM, but it is not currently a part of the road map.
For more on HTML5's lack of readiness, including more quotes from W3C, check out this InfoWorld report.UPDATED, 10/11/2010, 9:25AM: Philippe Le Hegaret of the W3C has followed up with a blog post further clarifying his statements about HTML5.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about how technology is changing the way we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.