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The XML FAQ — Frequently-Asked Questions about the Extensible Markup Language
Section 1: Basics
Q 1.12: Why not just carry on extending HTML?
HTML is already too overburdened with proprietary add-ons.
HTML was already weighed down with dozens of interesting but incompatible inventions from different manufacturers, because it provides only one way of describing your information.
XML allows groups of people or organisations to create their own customised markup applications for exchanging information in their domain (music, chemistry, electronics, hill-walking, finance, surfing, petroleum geology, linguistics, cooking, knitting, stellar cartography, history, engineering, rabbit-keeping, mathematics, genealogy, etc).
HTML as originally conceived is now well beyond the limit of its usefulness as a way of describing information, and while XHTML and HTML5 will continue to play an important role for the content they can represent, many new applications require a more robust and flexible infrastructure.