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Browser rivals mock Microsoft's 'native HTML5' claims

Gregg Keizer | April 14, 2011
Mozilla, Opera poke fun at Microsoft's contention that IE9 is the only browser to support 'native HTML5'.

Mozilla and Opera have mocked rival Microsoft's use of the term "native HTML5" to describe Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and the in-development IE10 as an oxymoron, an attempt to hijack an open standard and a marketing ploy.

On Tuesday, Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch, the executive who runs the IE group, used the term several times during a keynote at MIX, the company's annual Web developers conference, and in an accompanying post on the IE blog.

Although Hachamovitch didn't define "native HTML5," he came closest in the blog.

"Web sites and HTML5 run best when they run natively, on a browser optimized for the operating system on your device," said Hachamovitch. "We built IE9 from the ground up for HTML5 and for Windows to deliver the most native HTML5 experience and the best Web experience on Windows.

In his keynote two days ago, Hachamovitch claimed that, "The only native experience of the Web of HTML5 today is on Windows 7 with IE9."

Those comments got an immediate reaction from Mozilla developers, who ridiculed the term in an often-biting entry on Bugzilla, the company's bug- and change-tracking database.

"Mozilla should consider adding support for native HTML5 as well," said Mike Beltzner, a former director of Firefox who recently left Mozilla. "I'm sure that a specification will be produced."

Others quickly chimed in with more satire.

"I'm pretty sure Firefox 5 has 'complete native HTML5' support," said Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's director of community development. "We should resolve this as fixed and be sure to let the world know we beat MIcrosoft to shipping *complete* native HTML5."

When some participants in the Bugzilla thread seemed to take Beltzner's call for a Firefox bug fix seriously, Brendan Eich, Mozilla's CTO and the creator of JavaScript, reminded everyone of the joke. "The 'native HTML5' nonsense-phrase is a source of endless fun. Like this bug," said Eich.

Opera was mystified by the phrase, too.

"Apropos of 'native HTML5,' I have no idea what it means," said Bruce Lawson, an open-standards evangelist for the Norwegian browser maker and co-author of Introducing HTML5.

"The beauty of the Web is that it's not native to anything. It works on the newest Android phone, any desktop browser and even the ancient Nokia phone a friend of mine in India has," said Lawson. "Even though the native devices are completely different, the thing that unifies them is the Web. And HTML5 is the new evolution of the lingua franca of the Web."


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