Software giant Microsoft (MSFT) has developed a new site HTML5 Labs for developers to test new and evolving specifications and web standards that are not available in its internet explorer.

Microsoft launched a beta version of its Windows Internet Explorer 9 (abbreviated as IE9) on Sept.15, 2010 and is the upcoming version of the Internet Explorer web browser from Microsoft. IE9 also supports the HTML5 video and audio tags and the Web Open Font Format. Some industry experts claim that Microsoft will release IE9 as a major out-of-band version that is not tied to any particular version of Windows.

 The HTML5 Labs site is the place where Microsoft prototypes early and unstable web standard specifications from standards bodies such as the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). Sharing these prototypes helps us have informed discussions with developer communities, and contributes to a better implementation experience with draft specifications, according to a statement in Microsoft's HTML5 Labs site.

Today we launched the HTML5 Labs Web site, a place where we prototype early and not yet fully stable drafts of specifications developed by the W3C and other standard organizations, Jean Paoli, the General Manager for Interoperability Strategy, said in a blog post.

These prototypes will help Microsoft have informed discussions with developer communities, and give implementation experience with the draft specifications that will generate feedback to improve the eventual standards, Paoli said.

For developers, this means that they can write sites to Internet Explorer and be confident that it is based on stable HTML5 and will work in future browser upgrades. For users, it means that sites continue to work as they upgrade their browsers and they don't get locked in to older browsers.

This new HTML5 Labs Web site is the place where our Interoperability Labs will publish prototype implementations of certain unstable and in-progress W3C, IETF, ECMA and other standards specifications still undergoing a lot of change. So, developers should expect that code and web pages based on these prototypes will have to be re-written as the specifications mature, Paoli wrote.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has delivered first two prototypes namely Web Sockets and IndexedDB.

WebSockets is a technology designed to simplify much of the complexity around bi-directional, full-duplex communications channels, over a single Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) socket.

With WebSockets, browsers and sites can do some neat things that are otherwise very hard, very slow, or not possible, Dean Hachamovitch, the Corporate Vice President for Internet Explorer, wrote in a blog post.

It can be implemented in web browsers, web servers as well as used by any client or server application. The WebSocket API is currently being standardized by the W3C and the WebSocket protocol is being standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

IndexedDB is a developing W3C Web standard for the storage of large amounts of structured data in the browser, as well as for high performance searches on this data using indexes. IndexedDB can be used for browser implemented functions like bookmarks, as well as for web applications like email. IndexedDB also enables offline scenarios where the browser might be disconnected from the Internet or server.

We chose these two specifications primarily because they are potentially very useful but currently unstable. These are the two specifications we currently believe the community stands to benefit the most from, but both are in flux, Paoli added.

As the technologies around HTML5 continue to develop, people need a better way to distinguish the more experimental parts of HTML5 from the parts ready for use in mainstream sites. The recent browser technology kerfuffle around WebSockets offers a clear example of the problem that developers and consumers will face again and again over support for emerging standards.

With many HTML5 technologies still under active development, our approach is to give developers better choices and avoid false dichotomies around standards support.

We will also offer developers HTML5 Labs for more experimental technologies still under development. By clearly separating prototype implementations from mainstream browser product ones, we can avoid many negative consequences, Hachamovitch said.

In the IE9 product, Hachamovitch said Microsoft is delivering on the key parts of HTML5 that are site-ready and offers support for real-world web patterns that developers are using today.

In addition, developers can expect site-ready HTML5 in the IE9 product so they can take advantage of the best of HTML5 that is ready and can still experiment with emerging HTML5 with HTML5 Labs.

By keeping these separate, developers get what they need without the negative consequences of co-mingling very different things in the same browser, Hachamovitch said.

HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. A markup language is a set of markup tags, and HTML uses markup tags to describe web pages.

The first publicly available description of HTML was a document called HTML Tags, first mentioned on the Internet by Berners-Lee in late 1991.

After the HTML and HTML+ drafts expired in early 1994, the IETF created an HTML Working Group, which in 1995 completed HTML 2.0, the first HTML specification intended to be treated as a standard against which future implementations should be based .The last HTML specification published by the W3C is the HTML 4.01 Recommendation, published in late 1999.

HTML5 is the next major revision of the HTML standard, currently under development. Like its immediate predecessors, HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1, HTML5 is a standard for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web.