Microsoft Outlaws Flash on Touch-Interface IE 10

| Analysis

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it will ship two versions of Internet Explorer 10, one for traditional desktop use and another for “Metro,” the “touch-first” aspect of Windows 8 that is aimed at tablets and touch-interface PCs. The company has followed in Apple’s footsteps with this version by making it plug-in free, which means no Flash.

The Flash Tally so Far

The Flash Tally so Far

Windows 8 is the next major version of Windows, and it’s scheduled to be released in 2012. Part of the point of Windows 8 is to deliver a more or less unified operating system and experience to tablets and PCs, all in one fell swoop. Unified or not, however, the company intends to include two different versions of IE 10, in part because the company believes that, “The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 Web.”

The company apparently took the time to analyze the use of plugins across the top 97,000 websites and found that 62% of them used Flash, but that many of those, “already fall back to HTML5 video in the absence of plug-in support.”

“The reality today is that sites are already rapidly engineering for a plug-in free experience,” Steven Sinofsky, President of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division wrote in a blog post, without actually mentioning that this is the case because of Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its iOS devices.

In addition, he noted that, “Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.”

These are all similar reasons given by then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an open letter titled “Thoughts on Flash” where he explained why Apple wasn’t supporting Flash on its mobile platform, It raised a hullabaloo at the time (and since), and Apple’s lack of Flash on iOS has been a rallying points for Android fans, as Android theoretically supports the technology. It’s also been an advertising point for tablet makers who have tried (and failed) to gain a market foothold with their tablets by claiming Flash support.

To offer a remarkably mixed metaphor, Microsoft looked at the line Apple drew in the sand on the issue and decided that the grass was greener on the side where tablets don’t have Flash. Whether or not that helps Microsoft move Windows 8-powered tablets remains to be seen, of course.

In the meanwhile, we should stress that the desktop version of IE 10 will support traditional plugins, and that includes Flash and other legacy plugin technologies that bring their plugins to the new browser.

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We have come a full circle, haven’t we.

Adobe, in it’s beginning, grew in symbiosis with Apple (PostScript/LaserWriter), but turned around when MS started gaining marketshare, and went to bed with MS, often at the cost of Apple. Flash and Mac never got along, but now even MS is saying good riddance.


Oh my!

I am lost for words.

Lee Dronick

I am lost for words.

I am lost for video smile

I assume that Metro will run H264 video. Flash coders can deliver in that codec.

Bryan Chaffin

That’s correct, Sir Harry, Metro’s IE 10 will rely on H.264 and HTML 5 for displaying video. Sites wanting to deliver video to Metro IE 10 will need to do so using HTML 5/H.264, just like they currently have to do if they want to deliver video to iOS devices.

And, funny enough, Adobe’s own release of Flash Media 4.5 earlier this week that automatically uses H.264 for Flash videos to browsers that don’t support Flash will help content providers do so.


I have regained my composure, and this bit of MicroSoft news supports my suspicions that there is change in the air at the fortress. They are still flushing loot down the flute with their foray into the land of tablet compunction but I suspect someone or most of them are seeing shadows of their folly and will do an about turn to rational padding shortly. (That might be de-padding into the land of pad computing.) Cents can drive sense to greater heights when the vaults are under attack. Expect trickles of news to tickle our fancy over the autumnal days and into the snows of winter. By spring, there shall be new preview videos on both HTML5/H.264 and Flash for all to be amazed.

You heard it postulated here first.

Or, it could be that Flash just sucks.


Just goes to prove that Microsoft is a control freak and wants to tell you what you can do with their mobile OS. wink

Lee Dronick

To offer a remarkably mixed metaphor, Microsoft looked at the line Apple drew in the sand on the issue and decided that the grass was greener on the side where tablets don?t have Flash.

Ouch, but it does make the point.

What we have is more than mere convergence between two rival companies, but a consensus on the future of mobile browsing technology. Whether that quiets the criticism, or simply gives Flash supporters yet another target to shoot at, remains to be seen, but it does look as if this argument all but over.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Well, wait a day, and you’ll find out that Microsoft isn’t even trying to be the dictator that Apple is. Here’s the situation, mostly according to Adobe, with a few things previously known about WP7 development rules…

1. Flash will not run inside the IE10 browser in Metro mode on either x86 or ARM devices.
2. Flash will run inside the IE10 browser in desktop mode on both x86 and ARM devices.
3. Flash can be compiled via AIR to Metro apps which will run in Metro mode on both x86 and ARM devices.
3a. Since Microsoft does not restrict what Metro apps can do as much as Apple restricts what iOS can do, AIR apps running in Metro will be able to download code from the net.

Just thought you’d all find that kinda interesting.


Checks and crosses make a good shot. In time, three crosses on a tombstone would be a slam-dunk.


Isn’t it rather obvious that Microsoft is headed in the same direction as Apple - HTML5? Even Adobe is addressing this trend with its’ latest product announcements.

As far as Microsoft being control freaks, it was a joke!


I got the joke, skipaq. I like jokes.

Rumour on an Android forum that Adobe is becoming accommodating and that Google may shortly be making an announcement that it will continue with Flash in Android as long as Adobe continues to support it but that their Moto pads won’t be employing the feature. Accommodating means Adobe is coming to its senses about Flash and understands it’s time to wake up and smell the bacon.

A pole on the Android fan site indicates the days of the pig are numbered.

Bryan Chaffin

1.) i won’t tolerate profanity. EVER.

2.) Posting a contrary opinion does not a troll make.

3.) Treat each other with respect.

I want each and every one of you to take the high road. Every time. There is a reason why most of our article discussions are about 10 steps above any other site, but when you lash out at each other or call each other names?either as an attack or in response?you threaten the integrity of the entire community.

If you want to admonish a regular member, tell them to be nice or ask them to be respectful, and that goes for everyone.

This is simple etiquette.

Bryan Chaffin

Brad, it’s definitely true that Flash apps, etc. will work on Windows 8. This article was about Flash as a plugin in Metro IE only, and the distinction is important.

That said, I do believe that this announcement from Microsoft is a de facto endorsement of Apple’s position on Flash on iOS.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bryan, I am sorry that’s what it took to get your attention.

So Bryan, here is your work-around for Flash in the Metro browser. It’s called a URL scheme. Such as flash:// The browser will necessarily need to allow such scheme registrations because every popular web-connected service from Skype to phone dialing use them. It launches a Metro or desktop process and voila, Flash video or other plugin.

There are two other parts of this workaround. One is that Microsoft will not be a sole source for Metro software. They already allow sanctioned side loading on WP7 and know that that’s a key differentiator with iOS. In fact, they take kind of a middle ground in the iOS Android continuum. The second part is that browser integration was at the heart of the anti-trust cases against them in both the US and the EU. This Metro browser thing is going to have a very difficult time getting past EU regulators as it stands. Expect Opera to file a complain in 3… 2… 1… Not saying I agree with the regulatory stance, but expect it.

And Bryan, Microsoft’s approach is still not an endorsement of Apple’s position. Despite being slapped down by EU regulators, Apple’s position on third party libraries hasn’t changed one iota since last March. Even though Apple capitulated on third party tools, they still have two key restrictions that Microsoft will not have:

1. Apple does not allow apps to download executable code from the Internet, and enforces this rule by being the only legitimate source for iOS software.

2. Apple does not allow third party apps to share libraries. So the AIR runtime needs to be compiled into every app. This wastes user space and subjects users to unnecessary, recurring security threats until all developers that use what should be a shared library recompile their apps and get them approved by Apple again.

And the part I find really strange about the Mac fan death cult surrounding Flash and associated technologies is that back in the day, the Mac and Apple used to stand for enabling common people to do extraordinary things. Flash makes real software development accessible to non-programmers. It makes multi-media development affordable for small developers. The economics of tools like Flash ensure more apps, timely updates, more experimentation, common fixes to common development problems, the list goes on and on. I am truly perplexed at the hostility that has set in as group think in this community.


1.) i won?t tolerate profanity. EVER.

2.) Posting a contrary opinion does not a troll make.

3.) Treat each other with respect.

Thanks for stating what should be obvious. There is enough profanity in this world and it is good not to have to weed it out of a post. I actually enjoy reading contrary opinions. What other reason would one have to look at the comments? The lack of simple personal respect is one thing that would keep me away from this site.

I don’t like someone making harsh personal statements about Steve Jobs, Tim Cook or others in and out of Apple. Being personally rude to someone in this online community is not good. Too much of that and I will go elsewhere.

@Bosco-As far as Flash is concerned, the sooner it dies the better IMHO . I avoid it if at all possible. When I must use it (seldom) Flash is trash programming for the most part.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Well skipaq, if someone took your second to last sentence and replaced “Steve Jobs”, you’d be all upset. If you want deference to your deities, perhaps not calling for “death” of a specific technology that gives 3+ million developers their livelihood or was used to create the #1 game in Apple’s app store might be a place to start.

Jobs and Cook are controversial people who have both done controversial things. They are public figures and both have been paid enough to buy themselves thick skins.

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