The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the caretaker of HTML, is working on a long-term project to update and add new features to the HTML specifications used by Web browsers. A video HTML tag is under consideration.
However, a final specification for HTML 5 could be a decade away, the editor of the committee developing it said. The success of the video tag will largely depend on if browser makers start supporting it and Web developers embrace it.
"It's not only about specifications," said Karl Dubost, conformance manager for the W3C. "It [the video HTML tag] requires deployment in enough browsers so that the market forces make it ubiquitous across platforms."
Mozilla and Opera are pressing ahead without waiting for an update to the HTML standard. The video tag feature won't make it in the initial Firefox 3.0 release, scheduled for next year, but will be delivered in future updates, Double said. Early last month, Opera released an experimental build of its browser with support for a video tag as well as support for Ogg Theora.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer holds about 80 percent of the browser market, and it remains to be seen how it views Opera's and Mozilla's plans. Microsoft did not response to requests for comment.
Microsoft tends to not go along with other vendors' standardization efforts, said Dimitris Dimitriadis, who consults companies on standards implementation and formerly worked with the W3C. But if a technology or specification starts to be widely used, Microsoft has been known to change course.
"I think they are very sensitive to market changes," Dimitriadis said. "If they see that people want to use embedded video they will certainly provide an alternative."
But other problems could arise if Opera's and Mozilla's implementations of a video HTML tag don't match a future W3C specification, Dimitriadis said. The process of creating a standard is very slow, and it's inevitable that companies' technology will move much faster than the administrative process, he said.
"There’s a risk of having brilliant people spending time on something that does not get implemented," Dimitriadis said.