What does "native HTML 5 support" in IE 9 mean and why is it preferable to using an add-on for video or graphics? When would it be appropriate for developers to rely on HTML 5 video support over add-ons, such as using Silverlight and Flash? Is using Vista with IE 9 less effective in enabling native HTML 5 video playback than using Windows 7 with IE 9? When will the HTML 5 spec become finalized? Finally, how will users know to get the appropriate video codec for HTML 5 video support and will WebM video codec support be available for Windows Vista or just Windows 7?
You can absolutely start using HTML5 today, but of course the only people that can take advantage of a lot of the new features (like pluginless video/3D graphics) are the modern web browsers. Right now we're in transition, such that we have some browsers capable of HTML5 and some not. The good thing is, as a developer, there are some steps you can take to make your site backwards-compatible. Here are a few things you can do to gracefully degrade:
Backwards-compatability libraries/tools: There are several libraries out there that will help your HTML5 markup gracefully degrade for older browsers. One of the cool things in HTML5 is that there are specific tags now for articles, asides, headers and footers, which before were hard to tell apart as nearly everything was a <div> tag. Check out http://www.modernizr.com/ for one of my favorite ways of using HTML5 with a lot less worry about if other browsers support a particular piece of the HTML5 spec.
So, in short, HTML5 is a rollup of all of the things that have become commonplace on the web like video, games, particular layout styles into the HTML spec. The HTML spec is a "living" spec, so although there's a lot of talk about the spec being complete anywhere from 5-10+ years from now, that's really not being honest with what the spec is about. Try to think of the HTML spec as a larger collection of smaller specs, like a spec for the canvas, or video tag. Many of the components of the HTML spec are ready today, and some won't be ready for a while. So, It's appropriate to use HTML5 going forward, but of course some people just can't upgrade browsers yet for whatever reason (business standard, etc). Try and only implement something that's ready (if it's supported by IE9, it's ready), and when you do implement a feature like HTML5 video, simply add a fallback method for users who don't have that feature (or encourage them to upgrade for a better experience).
Hope that helps!
Microsoft MVP for Internet Explorer Twitter: @RyannosaurusRex Web: http://ryanhayes.net
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