Web standards vet marches Microsoft to the front lines (Q&A)

You might think developing technology standards is plodding, bureaucratic tedium compared to something like the frenzy of smartphone innovation.

But you'd be wrong, at least in the case of Paul Cotton, who leads Microsoft's involvement in the important and often fractious world of Web standards. Web standards are hot -- and hotly contested.

Cotton, an even-keeled Canadian, discovered a passion for standards more than 20 years ago when figuring out how to digitize airplane maintenance manuals. He's comfortable with the contradictory motives of standards groups: fierce competition one moment and gentlemanly cooperation the next.

It's a … Read more

W3C officially opens HTML5 to scrutiny

The World Wide Web Consortium has reached an important point in the long journey to standardize HTML5, the next version of the Hypertext Markup Language used to describe Web pages.

HTML5 officially reached "last call" status this week, which means the W3C believes it's got a version of the specification mature enough for organizations to decide whether to express support. But changes still could come: "In practice, last call announcements generate comments that sometimes result in substantive changes to a document," the W3C said in announcing that HTML5 reached last call.

Hypertext Markup Language is … Read more

W3C: new members extend Web standards work

The World Wide Web Consortium announced 35 new members, a move it says signals growing interest in HTML and other Web technologies it standardizes.

Among the new members are: China Unicom, Comcast, Facebook, LG Electronics, NEC Corporation, Netflix, SanDisk, Sony, and Zynga.

This "more diverse community at W3C" will help bring Web standards to industries including mobile devices, television, publishing, and advertising, W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe said in a statement. "The immediate impact of new Web standards will result in more innovation, more powerful Web-based products and services, and economic opportunities for businesses and consumers alike." … Read more

HTML5 spec set for 2014 completion

It's been a work in progress for years, but there are a few more years to go yet before the next version of Hypertext Markup Language is finalized.

Specifically, the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML Working Group is set to announce today that it expects to anoint HTML5 as an officially recommended standard in the second quarter of 2014. That drawn-out schedule contrasts with another effort to make HTML a more fluidly updated "living standard."

"We started working [on HTML5] in 2007," Philippe Le Hegaret, the HTML activity leader for the W3C, told CNET. &… Read more

W3C narrows 'HTML5' logo meaning to HTML5

The World Wide Web Consortium, faced with derision that its new HTML5 logo represented a broader set of Web technologies, has pared down the logo's scope.

"Since the main logo was intended to represent HTML5, the cornerstone of modern Web applications, I have updated the FAQ to state this more clearly. I trust that the updated language better aligns with community expectations," W3C spokesman Ian Jacobs said Friday in a blog post.

Indeed, the HTML5 logo FAQ now states in no uncertain terms: "This logo represents HTML5, the cornerstone for modern Web applications." Those who … Read more

HTML editor dumps 'HTML5' even as W3C touts it

Two days after the World Wide Web Consortium debuted a flashy new HTML5 badge, none other than the editor of the Hypertext Markup Language standard has dumped the hot tech buzzword.

"HTML is the new HTML5," Ian Hickson, who edits the specification, said in a blog post yesterday. The announcement embodies a more continuous development process that he's planned for more than a year, but Hickson told CNET today that the W3C's HTML5 badge--which controversially stands for a number of Web technologies beyond HTML--hastened a change that had been planned for later in 2011.

"Now … Read more

Google offers instant-search interface standard

With Google Instant, the close link between the company's browser and search service is getting even closer--but Google wants to ensure that the Chrome-Google pairing isn't the only one possible on the Net.

If a proposal from the search giant catches on, browser users might, for example, be able to see Yahoo search results in Firefox--or more likely, Microsoft Bing search results instantly in Internet Explorer. The proposal, if accepted, holds the potential to help both Google and its rivals--at least if they can match the new Google Instant interface.

Google Instant shows search results as a person … Read more

Growing pains afflict HTML5 standardization

Listening to marketing messages from companies such as Apple and Google, one might think HTML5, the next-generation Web page standard, is ready to take the Net by storm.

But the words of those producing the specification show an HTML governance process that can be stormy, fractious, and far from settled down. The World Wide Web Consortium's return to HTML standardization after years of absence has produced tensions with the more informal Web Hypertext Application Working Group (WHATWG) that shouldered the HTML burden during that absence.

Some examples of language that's cropped up this month on the W3C's HTML Working Group mailing list: "childish," "intolerable," "ridiculous," "shenanigans." And there's a concrete manifestation of the divisiveness: The WHATWG and W3C versions of the HTML5 specification, though both stemming from the same source material, have diverged in some areas.

Some of the differences are relatively minor, and there are strong incentives to converge the two drafts of the HTML5 specification so that browser makers and Web developers aren't faced with the prospect of incompatibilities. In the meantime, though, the overseers of the Web are clashing during a time when their important new standard is just arriving in the spotlight.

"It's not an ideal situation. You want as much energy devoted to improving the spec and as little lost to the friction costs," said Mike Shaver, Mozilla's vice president of engineering. In the long run, though, Shaver said, it's like writing software, where improvements cause temporary disruptions: "Sometimes you add something new, you have stability problems, you clean them up before they ship." … Read more

Mozilla, HTML5 editor differ with Microsoft

Microsoft has re-engaged with others in the computing industry in the area of Web standards--but its return is not without friction.

A number of allies--notably Mozilla, Opera, Apple, and Google--have been working for years to refashion Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and a host of associated technologies to make the Web a more powerful foundation for applications and more sophisticated sites. Microsoft now has joined in the effort, but it doesn't always see eye to eye when hashing out details of the upcoming HTML5 with Mozilla and a central individual in the standards process.

One point of debate is the … Read more

Microsoft touts new IE9 test, seeks Web standards

Microsoft released a second "platform preview" version of Internet Explorer 9 on Wednesday with faster JavaScript and better Web standards compliance--plus an argument for how future Web technology should develop.

Central to the second IE9 preview (download) is progress toward matching rivals in SunSpider, a speed test of Web-based JavaScript programs, and Acid3, a test of adherence to some Web technologies. On the first, Microsoft improved from 590 to 473 milliseconds; on the second, from 55 to 68 out of a possible 100. But there's more to the story than benchmarks.

The new platform preview, arriving seven … Read more