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Novell’s Ex-CTO Goes to W3C as CEO

At W3C Jaffe is going to have to deal with the breakaway Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group

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W3C, which hasn't had a CEO since at least last July, has hired ex-Novell CTO Jeff Jaffe, who was reorg'd out of there at Christmas.

He's supposed to run the place day-to-day and do battle with its bureaucracy, standards process, political in-fighting and budget on an MIT salary without stepping on Tim Berners-Lee's toes. Berners-Lee remains director.

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Jaffe was four years at Novell and said on his last blog that a lot of his time was spent cultivating relationships with Microsoft, SAP and IBM. Before that he was five years at Bell Labs as president of research after doing 20 years at IBM, including a stint as corporate VP of technology. He went to MIT, by the way, and since he was working in Massachusetts anyway doesn't have to move.

By way of welcome Jaffe was attacked on Slashdot as one of the architects of the notorious Novell-Microsoft patent deal as well as "a software patent supporter, Microsoft apologist, and no fan of the FSF," the Free Software Foundation and its GPL license. See also the charming http://boycottnovell.com/2010/03/08/jeff-jaffe-w3c-workgroup/.

At W3C Jaffe is going to have to deal with the breakaway Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, or WHATWG, that went off in a snit because W3C was dragging its feet and decided to abandon HTML for XML-based technologies.

It was subsequently invited back in but got to keep its own operating processes, which are at variance with W3C's. Its major drivers are Mozilla, Apple, Google and Opera. While Microsoft, IBM and Apple are co-chairs, the editor (and the power) now comes from Google.

They're operating WHATWG/HTML5 - ya know like in HTML5 v Adobe-proprietary Flash and the web as platform - sort of like an open source program. The spec is over a thousand pages long, and it's based on current practice with stuff tossed in. There was an argument between Og Theora supporters (like Mozilla) and Apple, which supports only H.264. They couldn't settle on a video codec, so it omitted it altogether.

See http://www.talkstandards.com/flash-back-and-flash-forward-the-role-of-proprietary-standards-and-innovation/ for a somewhat simplistic view. Flash supports H.264 and an earlier version of ON2, now owned by Google.

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Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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