Head of Microsoft's Internet Explorer says HTML5 is the 'future'

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Following Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' comments this week predicting Adobe Flash will fall to open standards like HTML5, the general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser agreed and said HTML5 is "the future of the Web."

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, indirectly referenced the conflict between Jobs and Adobe on Thursday, when he wrote on the IEBlog about support for HTML5 in Internet Explorer. He noted that the forthcoming IE9 will support hardware acceleration with H.264-encoded HTML5 video playback in Windows 7.

"The future of the web is HTML5. Microsoft is deeply engaged in the HTML5 process with the W3C," Hachamovitch wrote. "HTML5 will be very important in advancing rich, interactive web applications and site design. The HTML5 specification describes video support without specifying a particular video format. We think H.264 is an excellent format. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only."

Apple played a prominent role in the growth of the MPEG H.264 video codec by making it the standard for compression in iTunes. Now an industry standard, H.264 has broad hardware support, which allows users to easily film video, put it on the Web, and have it play on any operating system or device, Hachamovitch noted.

The IE general manager also acknowledged that most video on the Web today is based on Adobe Flash, and using a browser without Flash is difficult. But he also admitted that Flash has "issues."

"While video may be available in other formats, the ease of accessing video using just a browser on a particular website without using Flash is a challenge for typical consumers," he wrote. "Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security and performance. We work closely with engineers at Adobe, sharing information about the issues we know of in ongoing technical discussions. Despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today's web."

While Hachamovitch's comments did not specifically acknowledge it, they came just hours after Apple's Jobs publicly slammed Flash, suggesting the Web format was created for the "PC era," while the world is currently moving to the "mobile era." Jobs said that Flash is prone to cause crashes, hurts battery life on mobile devices, and is not designed for touch screens.

Later Thursday, Adobe's CEO fired back, suggesting that most crashes of Flash in OS X are not related to his software, but instead are the fault of Apple's operating system. Shantanu Narayen said that his company and Apple have different views of the world, and Adobe believes the future is multi-platform. He said Flash allows developers to write software and provide video in one format and have it accessible on a range of devices, while Apple's App Store is restricted to the iPhone OS ecosystem.

Microsoft's comments indicate that it, like Apple, is placing the majority of its browser support for streaming video behind HTML5. Apple has banned Flash from its iPhone OS-powered line of devices, including the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Users with that hardware can watch streaming video with HTML5 or through software available on the App Store.