People Love To Complain
People in SL seem to love to whine that updates are not worth the frustration for the features that are implemented. While I disagree, and could illustrate before and after patches, I will simply say that the HTML update planned for 1.7 and subsequent patches will be, in fact, the greatest thing since sliced bread, perhaps better. The immediate reaction I hear from a lot of residents is "So what? I can browse the web without opening a new program. No big deal." But they are very short-sighted in this sentiment.
The obvious use of HTML in SL is an integrated web browser. I've previously discussed that reverse compatibility with HTML is necessary for Second Life to become the Metaverse. If you look at the Metaverse as the next-generation web-browser, it becomes obvious that we need a way to look at flat, 2-D pages in SL. We should also totally eliminate the need for other browsers like Internet Explorer or Netscape. Aside from the bonus of Linden Lab being able to control rendering (and thus not have issues switching between SL and a browser), we should have a way to open Second Life without logging in, and look at web pages.
Above this, HTML has a way of improving a lot of features in Second Life.
Text on Prims
HTML-on-a-prim, as it's fondly known, would eliminate the need for those silly looking floating text scripts, and XyText altogether. This eliminates needless lag on the sim servers, and potentially reduces bandwidth to the size of a text file, rather than a full image. This means less bandwidth in and out of SL and overall lower load on SL's overburdened asset servers.
Bye Bye Notecards!
Notecards would be made obsolete. Users could make much nicer announcements, promotional cards, documentation of items, etc. Pretty much every event or party invitation invitation I get is a Photoshopped image on a prim, anyway. This subsequently reduces the number of inventory items, eliminates instancing of notecards that would normally have multiple references in world, and thus, again, SL's asset server breathes a sigh of relief.
Marketing and Business
There is huge potential for businesses in Second Life. First of all, any shop owner can have their virtual store on the Internet accessed via SL. To that extent, the whole concept of a mall can be revolutionized, since only one prim is needed. Now the prims in a mall could be for look alone, and only one prim is needed to open up the HTML store. A mall shopper could enter the store, touch a prim to load the website, purchase items through SL Boutique or Second Server or the like, and have the product delivered in-game.
Now you're reducing prims, allowing users more creative freedom with shops than having a million pictures hung up on the walls, and taking the whole vendor load off of the asset server. (Notice a pattern, yet?)
XML RPC Work-around
There's also the way to work around the XML-RPC problem. Since Linden Lab does not want to implement full two-way XML-RPC due to security and spam concerns, the same operations could be worked online. It will be possible to do streaming content (movies, music) loading from webpage, (which FlipperPA already has a hack worked out for this) scoring for games like Tringo or SIM Combat (FPS) displayed on HTML, or pushing dynamic image content from websites onto prims. (Snapzilla picture frame?) Again, load lifted off sim CPUs.
It also means that once interactive HTML is implemented, users can make custom mini-UIs - like maps, control panels, dance machines, etc.
Quicker Searches, Less Patches
Linden Lab has already stated that they will be using HTML windows to replace the Find window. This means your searches are done on different servers (again, less lag) and the User Interface can be updated without having to take down all of Second Life for a patch. Huzzah!Maybe this is a preamble to making the whole UI customizable?
James Linden provided the priority list of HTML implementation as:
(1) static external webpage in 2D browser, no interaction
(2) static external webpage on prim surface, no interaction
(3) update URL for primitive, all viewers get update
(4) LSL call to set URL for primitive
(5) webpage from script/notecard/typed-in HTML
(6) interactive web page in 2D
and the current progress in the most recent Town Hall as (with comments):
(1) Non-interactive 2D browser - 95% complete
(2) Static External Web Page on prim surface - 75%
(3) update URL for primitive - 0%
(4) LSL call to set URL for primitive - 0% (but easy)
(5) web page from script/notecard/typed-in HTML - 0% (harder)
(6) Interactive 2D browser - 50%
Better than Havok 2
Oh, back to Havok 2. Havok 2 is perhaps the single most requested feature in SL. It will make collision detection better, and make movement of objects and avatars smoother. Cool, huh?
That's pretty much it. For all the groaning for Havok 2, it pales in comparison to what HTML in SL can do. HTML in SL has the potential to revolutionize how we use SL, eliminate the need for other browsers, greatly reduce load on sims and asset servers, and will be the base for many useful tools in Second Life. While people are excited about Havok 2, and rightly so, it's clear: Havok 2 is merely the wrapping paper around 1.7, whereas HTML is the true present underneath the shiny exterior.