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The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) began work on the new standard in 2004. At that time, HTML 4.01 had not been updated since 2000, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was focusing future developments on XHTML 2.0. In 2009, the W3C allowed the XHTML 2.0 Working Group's charter to expire and decided not to renew it. W3C and WHATWG are currently working together on the development of HTML5.
Although HTML5 has been well known among web developers for years, it became the topic of mainstream media around April 2010 after Apple Inc's then-CEO Steve Jobs issued a public letter titled "Thoughts on Flash" where he concludes that "[Adobe] Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content" and that "new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win". This sparked a debate in web development circles where some suggested that while HTML5 provides enhanced functionality, developers must consider the varying browser support of the different parts of the standard as well as other functionality differences between HTML5 and Flash. In early November 2011, Adobe announced that it will discontinue development of Flash for mobile devices and reorient its efforts in developing tools utilizing HTML5.
The Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software presented a position paper at a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) workshop in June 2004, focusing on developing technologies that are backward compatible with existing browsers, including an initial draft specification of Web Forms 2.0. The workshop concluded with a vote, 8 for, 14 against, for continuing work on HTML. Later that month, work based upon that position paper moved to the newly formed Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), and a second draft, Web Applications 1.0, was also announced. The two specifications were later merged to form HTML5. The HTML5 specification was adopted as the starting point of the work of the new HTML working group of the W3C in 2007.
2008 -- First Public Working Draft
WHATWG published the First Public Working Draft of the specification on 22 January 2008. Parts of HTML5 have been implemented in browsers despite the whole specification not yet having reached final Recommendation status.
2011 -- Last Call
On 14 February 2011, the W3C extended the charter of its HTML Working Group with clear milestones for HTML5. In May 2011, the working group advanced HTML5 to "Last Call", an invitation to communities inside and outside W3C to confirm the technical soundness of the specification. The W3C is developing a comprehensive test suite to achieve broad interoperability for the full specification by 2014, which is now the target date for Recommendation. In January 2011, the WHATWG renamed its "HTML5" living standard to "HTML". The W3C nevertheless continues its project to release HTML5.
2012 -- Candidate Recommendation
In July 2012, WHATWG and W3C decided on a degree of separation. W3C will continue the HTML5 specification work, focusing on a single definitive standard, which is considered as a "snapshot" by WHATWG. The WHATWG organization will continue its work with HTML5 as a "Living Standard". The concept of a living standard is that it is never complete and is always being updated and improved. New features can be added but functionality will not be removed.
In December 2012, W3C designated HTML5 as a Candidate Recommendation. The criterion for advancement to W3C Recommendation is "two 100% complete and fully interoperable implementations".