Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

Summary: Microsoft is launching a contest to encourage developers to create native HTML5 content that doesn't require browser plug-ins.

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Microsoft is launching a contest to encourage developers to create native HTML5 content that doesn't require browser plug-ins.

This kind of native HTML5 content is key to Microsoft and other phone and tablet makers going forward. As I've blogged previously, IE 9 is a key pillar of Microsoft's tablet/slate push. And Microsoft is looking for native HTML5 apps, not ones powered by plug-ins like Silverlight and Flash -- or Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) ones that are tied to the Windows client OS -- to populate its app store(s) in the future.

In spite of Microsoft's backing, the contest, Dev Unplugged, isn't limited to apps that work only or best in Internet Explorer (IE) 9. According to the Dev Unplugged rules, the content must render correctly in the Release Candidate (RC) of IE9, the latest Chrome beta and the latest Firefox beta. Submissions must stick to HTML/CSS/JS on the client-side, with no restrictions on the server-side.

The first two categories of content/apps that Microsoft is seeking from devs are games and music. Within these categories are four areas of specialization: Most innovative uses of geo-location, Pinned Sites (an IE 9 feature), Canvas and SVG, and design/UX (user experience).

"We believe that HTML5 and related technologies, in conjunction with faster and faster browsers, finally give developers the tools they need to create experiences that are just as vivid, interactive and high-fidelity as what you have come to expect from native applications without the need for plug-ins. We want to see what you can do unplugged," reads the text on the Dev Unplugged site.

Microsoft has assembled a panel of judges who are considered "experts in HTML5, design and user experience on the web." Microsoft plans to allow "the community" to vote for the top 40 finalists from which the judges will select winners based on "creativity, quality of implementation and fit with the contest theme."

The contest opens on March 1, with the submission gallery opening up to the public for voting on April 5. The submission deadline is May 9, with the winners announced on May 23. The grand prize is $9,000, plus a trip to the Future of Web Apps Conference in Las Vegas on June 27.

Microsoft officials still have not provided a target release-to-Web date for IE 9. While many are expecting Microsoft to deliver the final IE 9 version in mid-April, around the time of the Mix '11 conference, some think Microsoft may RTW IE9 sooner, possibly at the South by Southwest show in mid-March.

Update (March 3): Microsoft isn't the only browser maker to be encouraging the creation of apps and content that don't require plug-ins. Shortly after Microsoft announced this contest, the Khronos Group announced the standardization of WebGL, which delivers 3D graphics support. Apple Google, Mozilla and Opera are backers. Microsoft officials said the company is "always listening to customer feedback," but had nothing to say at this time, as far as Microsoft's plans for adopting WebGL.

Topics: Software Development, Browser, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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19 comments
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  • H5 is one of the biggest tech bubbles

    If Google - the biggest H5 pumper - lets go of ChokemOS platform to focus on Android then it makes you wonder why these folks at Redmond are still left on the bandwagon cheering for that joker. MSFT really needs to appoint more techies than these hype-chasing MBAs as manager.
    LBiege
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @LBiege what are you talking about?
      mikefarinha
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @LBiege
      I would argue that chrome is the future for Google. Just not the totally useless ChromeOS. Android runs Chrome. Windows, mac and Linux run Chrome. That's most of the mobile and all of the desktop market right there!

      Web applications are Google's (and MS's) future.
      x I'm tc
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @LBiege,
      You are 100% correct. HTML5 is s--t. VB6, sorry, Silverlight is the future. ;-)
      fanbaby
  • MS sounds disoriented

    [i]?We believe that HTML5 and related technologies, in conjunction with faster and faster browsers, finally give developers the tools they need to create experiences that are just as vivid, interactive and high-fidelity as what you have come to expect from native applications without the need for plug-ins. We want to see what you can do unplugged,? reads the text on the Dev Unplugged site.[/i]

    This is precisely what MS should [b]not[/b] be saying! MS should ideally be telling developers to eschew the web, and build on MS platforms as much as possible. If they have to however, developers can use HTML5 and related technologies - e.g. to build non-commercial sites. MS is lucky that Apple drove developers back to developing on proprietary OSs, because here you have MS, with the biggest proprietary OS out there, telling developers to program for its largest development platform competitor, the web!
    P. Douglas
    • What?

      "[i]MS is lucky that Apple drove developers back to developing on proprietary OSs[/i]"

      When Apple released the iPhone, the only way to provide applications was as web pages. After lots of criticism, Apple allowed native apps but controlled them through AppStore and iTunes. They refused to support proprietary technologies in the iOS browser so all Mobile Safari web content uses standards-compliant HTML, CSS and script (albeit some of it draft or proposed, but it's all open and unlicenced).

      Apple has been one of the best supporters of the open web, they pushed for canvas and many HTML5 features that can be used to avoid proprietary content.

      If anything, MS should be grateful that Apple ensured the mobile web was open to all comers. If MS had had their way a few years ago, it would be tied to Windows and ActiveX.

      That MS have finally seen the light and decided to compete on their merits as software developers (instead of their business accumen to bully OEMs and rip of customers) is great for eveyone concerned. If they'd done that 15 years ago we might be in a much, much better place right now.

      Regardless, it gives me great hope to see them going back to basics and competing.
      Fred Fredrickson
      • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

        @Fred Fredrickson

        I develop HTML 5 eLearning applications and they run fine on everything but iOS as Apple has deliberately prevented the use of autoplay for the audio and video tags. Synchronised voice-over with text, graphics and video display are just not possible as long as Apple insists on users pressing a play button for every audio and video file. My apps fall back to Flash, if HTML 5 is unavailable or crippled, but unfortunately that doesn't work with iOS either.

        Before the latest iOS update it was possible to use a work around and I had web apps running fine on a iPad and iPhone, but Apple killed the workaround. Since I'm unwlliing to use Apple's very average development tools, I'll have to wait until Apple comes to its senses.

        Of course while the apps we distribute are standard HTML/CSS/JS. our WYSIWYG development system is a Windows desktop app and I'm happy for it to stay that way ;-)
        tonymcs@...
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @P. Douglas

      I disagree. Microsoft still dominate the desktop market, and should defend it by keeping their flagship desktop and infrastructure software ahead of what competitors (including web apps) can offer. At the same time, the best way to ensure they aren't beaten by the web and web apps is to make sure they've got the best web apps. Moreover, the best way to prevent Android becoming a de facto standard in the mobile phone market is to promote web apps that will work on Andoid, iPhone and Windows Phone.

      Microsoft should of course focus on making SilverLight better than HTML5, especially for Windows Phone, and I think they can develop it in such a way that it will offer compelling advantages. However, getting developers to move from HTML to SilverLight has to be viewed as a secondary objective. The primary objective must be to get HTML5 developers to use Microsoft development tools, and HTML5 users to use Microsoft operating systems (first priority) and browsers (second priority).

      The biggest mistake Microsoft made in the 2000s was turning away from the web. When they released IE6 in 2001, Microsoft dominated the web browser market. Rather than investing to ensure they maintained their lead, however, they launched a plan to move the industry from the web to .NET. As part of this misguided strategy, they actually disbanded the IE development team, leaving only a skeleton crew to manage service releases. It was a high-risk strategy, and it didn't pay off. If the world had moved to .NET and the web had died, Microsoft would have scored a tremendous victory. Instead, .NET gained some traction, but the web continued to rise.

      Far from ensuring the success of .NET, cancelling IE allowed Mozilla to rise from the grave (only with vital funding from Google, however) and opened the door to an even bigger threat from Chrome, which increases barriers to entry in the web search/advertising market that Google dominate. Microsoft eventually realised their mistake and re-assembled a development team for IE in 2005, but nearly five years of stagnation took their toll. IE went from being a technological leader (especially for intranet development) to being a joke. Microsoft may be back in the game with IE9, but they might have had it five years ago if they hadn't taken their eye off the ball.

      Microsoft should look back at the way they operated under Bill Gates in the 80s. After the MS-DOS deal, Microsoft might have seen the Mac as a threat, but Gates didn't view it that way. Whilst developing Windows at the same time, Microsoft poured resources into developing the best office applications for the Mac, even as Lotus and WordPerfect focused on defending their MS-DOS strongholds. Microsoft Office for the Mac was dominant long before Windows displaced MS-DOS, and Microsoft arguably won the office war against Lotus and WordPerfect in the 90s primarily because they won the office battle on the Mac in the 1980s.
      WilErz
  • It's alright to be paranoid if someone is really out to get you

    IE9 is going to be phenomenal compared to prior versions of IE. It took Microsoft eight versions of IE to score 29/100 on the ACID test. IE9 is in the high nineties. If this works out, IE9 will be a very compatible browser, while all prior attempts have been failures.

    Not only has Microsoft matched the competition, they have leapfrogged the competition. Not with compatibility, but with speed. Microsoft has differentiated itself by adding hardware acceleration to a greater degree than any of its competitors. IE9 will run circles around the competition when it comes to speed.

    Microsoft has already demonstrated that IE9 can do things in HTML5 that no other browser can keep up with. Don't let that fool you. The whole idea of web standards is to get similar results, regardless of browser platform. For years, web developers have had to develop two solutions, one for Microsoft, one for standards compliant browsers.

    Microsoft is hoping to leapfrog the competition by being able to run HTML5 compliant applications fast, that run slow as molasses on all other browsers. I just ask that you make a business case (dollars and cents) for the need to have all those fish swimming around in your HTML5 aquarium.
    Info-Dave
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @Info-Dave The purpose of IE is to get you wedded to Windows. It's bait. Can you see the trap?
      symbolset
      • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

        @symbolset That was my point.
        Info-Dave
  • MJ where did you see anything that inferred that MS would prefer

    it's appstore to be populated with html5 apps? html5 would be advantageous short term while others have more apps and IE crushes chrome/ff in html5 perf, but long term it's not an equalizer, not a winner for them. It'll only them a year or two more to catch the other appstores on apps with merit (versus the stupid number of shovelware apps metric). And it'll probably only take google a couple years to catch IE perf on Windows and a couple more on other platforms.
    Johnny Vegas
    • HTML5 apps in the appstore

      Hi. I have heard this claim -- that MS is hoping to get HTML5 apps for the appstore(s) -- from various internal and external sources of mine. It makes sense, if you think it through. When MS partners launch Win 8 tablets, what kinds of apps will be populating the app store? They'll need as many touch-centric, IE9/HTML5 compliant apps ready on short notice as possible... They won't want to wait around for folks to create these after Win 8 launches...

      MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

        @Mary Jo Foley Silverlight is the answer. Just look at the growth of the WP7 marketplace. Those apps and any windows applications currently running on Silverlight can be easily ported to PC/Tablet/Phone. HTML5 apps don't currently exist! Development tools don't exist. Silverlight apps have far more functionality than HTML5.
        jhughesy
  • Whoa, hold the world for one minute...

    Microsoft is doing 360 mea culpa, and says: we're sorry, we didn't have any open-standards policy before. We dissed SVG, the w3 event-handling standard, Firefox and Chrome etc., but now we have changed. We love open. But our browser is the fastest and the best, so start making apps that show that, and put these other browsers to shame. And please don't use features that we didn't implement yet. Wait for us....

    And all the MS fanbois choir can sing, is: hahaha, IE9 crushes your browser. The snow elves are making 67,898,988 flakes on windows build 7.657

    F---N PATHETIC!
    MS and fanboys, it's game over for you.

    BTW, ask MS or any fanboy about WebGL, and you'll get the "SVG treatnment", i.e. it's not open, it's a terrible standard, it causes rashes etc. When the truth is that since MS is DX shop, OpenGL is kinda MUKTZE (untouchable), only because MS has to defend it's ________ (something, not sure what). See you in a guys few, then we'll see what's your opinion on WebGL [hint: it will be exactly as you opinion on SVG ;-)]
    fanbaby
    • At this point

      WebGL can't compete, based on technical merits, with Direct X.

      I also haven't had an IE9 crash since early in the beta.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @fanbaby Does WP7 use directx? I'll give you a hint, no it doesn't (openGL like all smartphones today, although it may use a subset directx in the future). My only point is that MS is doing, really what its always done, going in all directions at once. I feel there is no reason they would not take on WebGL just as they are taking on HTML5 if that becomes the way in which the wind is blowing. I think going in all directions at once is a horrible idea, but MS has the resources. Whats the B.Gates quote again? something like, 'its better to canibalize yourself then let the competition eat you'
      zbend
  • India is not listed in the countries?!?!

    WTF?! I just tried to register at http://contest.beautyoftheweb.com/ and India is not in the list of countries?!?! #FAIL
    anshprat
    • RE: Microsoft launches contest to encourage HTML5 content creation without browser plug-ins

      @anshprat Thanks for your feedback. This is an error in the registration form. We are working to get this fixed as quickly as possible and India will be included.
      crabasa