Microsoft launches new site for prototyping emerging HTML specs

Microsoft is launching a new HTML5 Labs Web site, where the company will prototype "early and not yet fully stable drafts" of specifications from the W3C and other standards bodies.

Microsoft is launching a new HTML5 Labs Web site, where the company will prototype "early and not yet fully stable drafts" of specifications from the W3C and other standards bodies.

The site is designed to give the developer and user communities "some visibility on those specifications we consider interesting from a scenario point of view, but which are still not at the stage where we can consider them ready for official product support," explained Jean Paoli, General Manager of Interoperability Strategy with Microsoft in a December 21 blog post announcing the new site.

The first two prototypes Microsoft is making available on the site are Web Sockets Extension for IE v 0.X and IndexedDB for IE v0.X.

Dean Hachamovitch, the Corporate Vice President of Internet Explorer, explained in a related blog post that Microsoft plans to "be explicit about the implementations that are more prototype than product."

(I'm not sure whether that means Web Sockets and IndexedDB will or will not be in the upcoming version of Internet Explorer. I've asked for clarification.)

Update: Here's the clarification from a spokesperson:

“It is too early to tell. The whole point of the Labs is to have a place to experiment with unstable specifications so that the specifications can improve. It’s impossible to judge beforehand when the specification will stabilize and be ready for inclusion in IE9. Instead our approach is to run an increasing number of experiments in the labs without feeling that we are time constrained to when they have to be ready.”

"These prototypes are how we balance providing a product for millions of consumers while actively engaging in speculative technology discussions with developers and enthusiasts and avoid confusing either group," Hachamovitch said.

Internet Explorer (IE) 9 is Microsoft's newest version of its browser which many are expecting to ship in the first half of 2011. IE 9 is Microsoft's most standards-compliant browser to date. It will support many HTML5 standards, as the various beta and tech preview releases Microsoft has made available have made evident. A near-final Release Candidate build of IE 9 is due in early 2011, company officials have said.