Did we mention that 2010 would be a big year for HTML5? Apple and Google are pushing it big time, and now so is Microsoft. When Internet Explorer 9 comes out, it will support HTML5 and help make it more common across the Web.
“The future of the web is HTML5,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, the general manager for IE at Microsoft in a blog post talking about Web video. Microsoft still supports Flash as well, but HTML5 and Flash are at loggerheads. By throwing its weight behind HTML5, Microsoft giving Website designers one more reason to abandon Flash.
The post specifically talks about Microsoft’s plans to support only the H.264 codec for HTML5 video. Again, Flash players now support H.264 also. But the more H.264 video is out there, the less need there will be for Flash players because those videos can play directly in an HTML5 browser, such as IE9, Safari, or Chrome.
To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.
Hachamovitch is more diplomatic. He also notes that “Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance.” Nevertheless, he adds that too many consumers rely on Flash, so Microsoft will continue to work with Adobe to make it better.
And if it doesn’t get better, . . . well, by that time HTML5 will be more widely distributed on sites across the Web. Microsoft and Apple and Google will make sure of that.