HTML 5 just gained another ally in its adoption…Microsoft. Sure it might still be some time before HTML 5 is totally ready for the masses but with such early adopters like IE, Firefox and Safari now, it should start getting a heavy push to become solid.

Microsoft isn’t implementing all of the new proposed specification which is no surprise given their track record in HTML acceptance over the years. At MIX08 they announced that four features from the HTML 5 draft have been put into the browser to help it better deal with Web 2.0 apps.

The first Beta is using the following pieces of the HTML 5 draft spec.

  • cross-document messaging
  • a client-side storage API
  • network connection awareness
  • window location hash so apps can be accessed via back/forward.

We’re told that Microsoft spoke with browser developers before they decided to implement these four features to make sure they were stable and going to be widely accepted. Firefox 3.5 betas also include the window location hash and the tag.

IE8 will also allow developers to work about any changes in the feature via it’s version-targeting features so mass re-coding would not be needed in the future. This gives the developers two options – full standards mode and a quirks mode which keeps backward compatibility with earlier versions.

IE8 will also support CSS 2.1 thanks to its new layout engine as well as some new productivity tools for its users.

Chief among these new features are the “Activities,” a dialog box that lists available Web services when a user selects text, and “WebSlices,” which allows users to subscribe to portions of Web pages, including Silverlight controls. These are accessible to developers via the new Microsoft Open Specification Promise and Activity XML.

Microsoft also promises to give both developers and end-users better tools built into the new IE8 in the upcoming betas probably to help speed adaptation. While Internet explorer is still a popular browser, with the likes of Safari, Opera and of course Firefox and Chrome also in widespread use I think they’re trying to set themselves apart somehow. We’ll keep an eye on it and let you know.