Following the flurry of reports early this week that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 had bested key competitors in the browser arena on early HTML5 compatibility tests, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has cautioned that the results of those tests are far too preliminary to form any kind of basis for conclusions.
"The HTML5 Test suite is still being developed. The number of tests and the results on these tests will change," a warning on the test page now reads. "The results in this document may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by others documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite those results as other than work in progress and unstable."
Word of the test results originally got out thanks to a promotional post by Microsoft itself late last week on the Internet Explorer blog, according to at least one report. What the W3C intended as a very early and incomplete set of results then quickly snowballed into countless "IE9 Wins" headlines throughout the media.
That, in turn, apparently caused a small panic within the ranks of the group that oversees them.
"This test suite is vastly incomplete," wrote Opera developer Anne van Kesteren in a mailing list posting on Tuesday, for example. "Publishing unverified results of a vastly incomplete test suite without a big fat warning is extremely silly. Why was this done?"
Soon afterwards, Google's Ian Hickson, who is editing the HTML5 specification, agreed. "I agree with Anne that it's rather pointless to be publishing results for this test suite," Hickson wrote. "Realistically speaking the test suite isn't even 0.1 percent complete yet."
Much More to Come
None of this is really surprising, of course. We're all eager for every shred of evidence that promises a hint at what the future may hold, particularly when it supports our favorite contender in a battle like the one currently being waged among Web browsers.
But the tests on HTML5 compatibility have only just begun, as the W3C notes in a recent presentation, and that's not to mention all the other Web technologies that will ultimately make a difference, including CSS (cascading style sheets), for one.
Will IE9 do best in the long run? It's certainly not my favorite -- particularly amid the latest round of security concerns--but for now, it looks like we'll have to hold off on those predictions. There's still much, much more testing to come.
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.