I’m at Mix10 in Las Vegas where Microsoft has been showing off the latest preview of IE9 – you can try it here, provided you have Vista SP2, Windows 2008 or Windows 7.
During the keynote, we saw IE9 playing a video using the HTML 5 video tag – no Flash or Silverlight needed. Microsoft also showed that in this instance IE9 performed better than Chrome thanks to better hardware acceleration. Although one should always mistrust one vendor’s demonstration of another vendor’s product, it should not be surprising that Microsoft is able to deliver a browser that is better optimised for Windows.
The plug-in approach has advantages. It offers consistency across browsers, and enables rapid evolution without the hassles of standards committees. The multimedia features in Silverlight and Flash are well ahead of those in HTML 5 – Holzschlag nailed this when she described today’s HTML 5 demos as reminiscent of Flash demos a decade ago.
The question though: can Microsoft do an equally good job of supporting HTML 5 throughout its platform, as it will do with Silverlight? This is where I’m doubtful. The Visual Studio and Expression tools will continue to drive developers towards Silverlight rather than HTML 5.
It’s notable that shortly after Microsoft’s IE9 demos at Mix, we saw demos of fun technology like code-name Houston, develop databases in the cloud using just your browser and … Silverlight.