Why HTML5 Matters

Michael Vizard

There's a lot of arguing in the industry, especially between Apple and Adobe, over the merits of various platforms and architectures for building the next generation of applications in the cloud.

If you're not familiar with the basics of the Apple argument, it comes down to the fact that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and many others believe open standards such as HTML5 are going to supplant Flash from Adobe and Silverlight from Microsoft.

They also arguing that HTML5 is going to provide a much more seamless user experience in terms of how data is shared across desktop applications and cloud computing applications. An excellent example of that integration was shown this week by Box.net, a provider of a collaboration application that is delivered as a service. Within a browser running HTML5, Box.net was able to show data being seamlessly shared between its application and a local desktop.

Box.net CEO Aaron Levie says the cloud computing providers that will ultimately win the day are the ones that will tie the user experience as closely as possible to the desktop metaphor that users take for granted today.

At the moment, it's also true that HTML5 can't do everything that Flash and Silverlight do. But it's only a matter of time before rich applications built using HTML5 that take advantage of new communications frameworks such as Websockets become more widely deployed.

Levie says it may be too early to take radical positions such as Apple's in banning Flash from devices such as the iPad, given the prevalence of these applications on the Web. But long term, Levie says the writing is already on the wall in terms of the eventual dominance of HTML5.

In the meantime, just about everybody is starting to turn their attention toward building rich applications in the cloud. For example, as a leading proponent of HTML5, Google recently pledged to cooperate with VMware on building applications from the ground up for cloud computing environments.

But if we're to avoid integration nightmares in the future, the next generation of cloud computing applications needs to share a common framework. And right now the best bet for making that happen is HTML5.

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