Yes, believe it or not, but after HTML 4.01, which was finished back in 1999, W3C did nothing to improve HTML.
Meantime Google, Apple, Mozilla and Opera being disappointed in W3C lack of interest in HTML further development, have created WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), whose tagline is not less but "Maintaining and evolving HTML since 2004".
It's interesting to note that another major browser vendor never participated in WHATWG and guess who is chairing new W3C HTML working group? Chris Wilson, Microsoft and Dan Connolly, W3C/MIT (and if you look as far back as 2006/11 - it was Chris Wilson only).
The new W3C HTML working group is scheduled to deliver new HTML version (in both classic HTML and XML syntaxes) by 2010. It's 3 years only. I doubt W3C as it is now can deliver something as much important as HTML5 in just 3 years.
WHATWG must be pretty much pissed off now. From WHATWG blog:
Surprisingly, the W3C never actually contacted the WHATWG during the chartering process. However, the WHATWG model has clearly had some influence on the creation of this group, and the charter says that the W3C will try to “actively pursue convergence with WHATWG”. Hopefully they will get in contact soon.
Well, actually the chapter says more:
- Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)
- The HTML Working Group will actively pursue convergence with WHATWG, encouraging open participation within the bounds of the W3C patent policy and available resources.
I'm only afraid that W3C can kill WHATWG and then bury HTML5 down in endless meetings settling down dependencies, IP issues, conflicting corporate interests and such. W3C can spend on HTML5 5-10 years easily.