Microsoft Throws its Weight Behind HTML5

Microsoft’s General Manager of Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, weighed in on the Flash versus HTML5 debate on Friday to side with Apple. According to Mr. Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer 9 will only support H.264 video playback.

“We think H.264 is an excellent format. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only,” he said.

He added, “H.264 is an industry standard, with broad and strong hardware support. Because of this standardization, you can easily take what you record on a typical consumer video camera, put it on the web, and have it play in a web browser on any operating system or device with H.264 support.”

Mr. Hachamovitch went on to say that Adobe’s Flash is still an important part of the Web browsing experience, he noted that there are issues with the multimedia format. “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,” he said.

The news that Microsoft is openly throwing its support behind HTML5 and its media streaming features likely has Adobe’s Flash team at least a little uptight. The company has been openly fighting with Apple over the lack of Flash support in the iPhone and iPad, as well as Apple’s decision to block apps that are built with Flash and other third-party tools from the App Store.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Flash unstable, poor performing, and a potential security threat in an open letter on the Apple Web site on Thursday.

“Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009,” Mr. Jobs said. “We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash.”

Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, fired back at Apple by claiming any stability problems Mac users may be seeing are system related, and not a Flash problem.

Along with Apple and Microsoft, the list of big-name Web sites that are supporting HTML5 is growing. While Flash may be a dominant player in Internet technology today, the growing number of companies that are transitioning to HTML5 support is something that Adobe can’t ignore.