Windows 8’s Metro browser won’t support plug-ins—or Flash

There’s been talk of replacing Flash with HTML5 across many corners of the industry, but Microsoft might have taken the boldest step yet. On the official Building Windows 8 blog earlier this morning, Microsoft revealed that the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 will be “plug-in free.” Translation: no Flash.

Users will encounter the Metro version of IE10 when they boot up into Windows 8’s new, touch-friendly tile interface. Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky notes that plug-ins like Flash will remain supported in the “desktop” version of IE10. Users will be able to switch quickly to the old-school desktop via a tile on the new Start screen. The Metro version of IE10 has a similar menu option, too.

I fired up the Windows 8 Developer Preview for a quick reality check. Sure enough, even after installing the Flash plug-in, IE10 flat-out refused to display Flash YouTube videos in the Metro interface. Flipping to the desktop interface allowed the same videos to play without a hitch. HTML5 videos played happily in both interfaces.

Why phase out plug-in support? IE team chief Dean Hachamovitch provides this explanation:

For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free. The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web.
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.

Hachamovitch goes on to point out that more and more major websites are embracing HTML5, with many of them using it as a fallback when visitors don’t have Flash installed (namely on mobile browsers).

Microsoft seems to have turned over a new leaf since Internet Explorer development efforts resumed a few years back, and its advocacy of open standards certainly seems like a positive thing for the web. Seeing Apple’s staunch anti-Flash advocacy (and its lack of support for it on iOS) validated in such a way is interesting, too—although perhaps not entirely surprising. I’ve played with Flash on several tablets and smartphones that support it, and I always found the experience sluggish and somewhat glitchy, especially on Flash sites designed for mouse input.

Comments closed
    • Derfer
    • 8 years ago

    Why does Adobe push flash so much. How do they make money off it? Do you have to pay them to use it on your website? If so is HTML5 free? That alone would be the main reason flash dies, and why so many companies jumped on Android.

    • provoko
    • 8 years ago

    This.. is.. retarded. I guess it’s just gonna be Chrome for full compatibility and of course Firefox.

    • moog
    • 8 years ago

    Yay! TR flash ads can finally go away. Think of all the power, heat, and annoying fan spinning to animate a stick of Corsair flying around.

    I’m guessing the new annoying HTML5 ads will be a bit more power efficient thanks to IE hardware rendering.

    But I’m saddened to think I couldn’t install a plugin to block out the new TR ads.

      • Aussienerd
      • 8 years ago

      If there are no ads there would be no site.

    • Cova
    • 8 years ago

    Why does it seem no-one else is making the connection between this news and the news that the arm version of Win8 will be metro only. So this just means flash is going to stay x86-only except on android. Arm Win8 tablets will be big Win7 phones (Win8 phones by then) just like iPads are big iPhones. They’ll sell lots of them just with that basic functionality, but then you can also get x86-based tablets that will be as touch-friendly but less battery time and with full windows app compatibility going back too many years.

    • PenGun
    • 8 years ago

    I dunno, Flash runs fine on my Sammy G S2, Smooth as silk. I guess iphones and wintabs are kinda weak.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    While I appreciate the thought, the underlying vibe here is MS locking down their system so other people can’t compete in it. This isn’t good. Even though Flash is bad and everyone thinks it should die, it’s only bad till they realize what they gave up in order to kill it off. This isn’t just plug-in support for Flash, it’s for everything! Something a lot of people aren’t taking into account. While there may not be a plugin as big as Flash at the moment, that doesn’t mean there never will be.

      • odizzido
      • 8 years ago

      If I could see myself using metro this would be a concern, but that is never going to happen. It is the same with apple products. I will never use them, so having them not support flash/plugins just means I will get less crappy flash loading while I browse.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Flash isn’t the only plugin in existence, that was my point… It eliminates your ability to use plugins. That’s closing down a system rather then opening it up, flash or not…

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    I guess, if MS can get YouTube to switch all their videos to HTML5 people with flock to Metro?

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      youtube is going there anyway. they’re in the process of moving ALL the videos to html5, and have been for a while. google it, and signup for the html5 videos, it works fine.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    what on gods green earth will make them ever think i would use IE again in the first place?

    • Voldenuit
    • 8 years ago

    So you have to switch interfaces to bring out functionality? What’s next, individual boot disks on floppy drives for different app configurations?

    This sounds like a big step backwards, and like something Apple would have done. Boo.

    • maxxcool
    • 8 years ago

    HTLM5 is better imho anyways… flash is ballz

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Flash was ahead of its time but now it is antiquated and irrelevant. I don’t expect that Adobe will take steps to keep it relevant or to open it up.

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      Not true at all, its when Adobe bought it they forgot to innovate. IT took them nearly 6 years to make a damn 64-bit version, all along they way they complained about how there isn’t enough industry uptake for 64-bit browsers when flash single handedly stopped people from using 64-bit browsers all this time. Adobe killed flash because they make bloatware and stifle innovation.

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        Flash11 install is 3.6meg, is that bloatware considering it include a full shader based 3d rendering system with HW acceleration and a full software rasterizer, a cross platform parallel language for steam computing with a SSE runtime compiler, a pletora of codecs, including latest technology like Jpeg-XR and Mpeg4 parser with H.264 .. h264 with a full software decoder + an HW acceleration code path, + a full 2d rendering engine with one of the most respected vector rendering system, not even talking about the audio system, the most advanced network protocol (RTMFP) , server streaming protocol , among dozen how other very high end features (like a full javascript engine).

        Flash might be many thing, but bloated its not.

          • shank15217
          • 8 years ago

          Its a general comment about Adobe, not particularly flash.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Flash was ahead of it’s time back when it was Macromedia Flash after that it was downhill.

      • LaChupacabra
      • 8 years ago

      This was posted a few days ago

      [url<]http://www.reelseo.com/adobe-flash-media-server/[/url<] With the new version of flash server it does all the heavy lifting on the server side and can stream the decoded video to a user repackaged to whatever format is compatible with the browser. This is a big deal

        • JMccovery
        • 8 years ago

        Doesn’t both Silverlight and HTML5 already the same?

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    Ahhh it’s good to see microsoft helping apple dig a grave for flash. They can’t finish that hole fast enough.

    • MasterRanger
    • 8 years ago

    In a sad bout of “we’re just as influential as Apple”-itis, Microsoft kills it as-yet-unreleased version of Windows 8 in a single stroke. Sure, Flash will still work on the Desktop. But if MS is all atwitter about the new Metro interface and are touting it as the New Hotness (and they are!), then consumers will expect all their web experiences to work in it. When it doesn’t, they’ll do what they should have done in the first place: Buy an iMac!

      • YellaChicken
      • 8 years ago

      So you think if someone buys a touchscreen device with a new version of IE and can’t have flash that’ll make them want to buy a non-touchscreen device to replace it? Yeah, that makes total sense.

        • sschaem
        • 8 years ago

        News flash: Android support Flash…

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          More news flash: You don’t need Flash on Android. Not a single website I use requires it.

            • sschaem
            • 8 years ago

            Do you even bother to follow the thread before making an ass of yourself?

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            Meh, we’re in a troll thread, I do what ah want.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Some sites I use do require it. I got all geekrage when iPad didn’t work.

            Good thing my Atrix has no problems with it. With Gingerbread, battery life also got better (going 3 days now on a single charge, instead of 2)

          • YellaChicken
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, I’m posting on a Nexus S so I kinda know. My point was that if tomorrow it stopped supporting flash I wouldn’t buy an iMac to replace it. They’re kinda difficult to fit in my pocket and I can’t find where to put the sim card.

            • jsfetzik
            • 8 years ago

            Sure many people don’t need flash, but for those NEW customers that do want or need flash those future Windows tablet are no better then an iPad. So they will likely go elsewhere. Not a bad thing for Android devices, but not neccessarily a smart move for Microsoft.

            • sschaem
            • 8 years ago

            Your point is correct. My remark was misguided.
            What I wanted to put in the equation is that people that really need Flash on mobile will choose Android VS just giving up.

    • Game_boy
    • 8 years ago

    How will the average user be able to figure out why Youtube isn’t playing on their shiny new Win8 PC? Or how to fix it?

      • Ihmemies
      • 8 years ago

      Maybe by then youtube uses html5 by default.. or switches to html5 automatically if flash is not detected.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        Yup, flash support detection is trivial, it’s no harder to fall back to html5 then it is to detect a mobile browser or like they are currently doing to detect iOS devices.

      • kvndoom
      • 8 years ago

      Sounds like easy money to me. 🙂

      • Forge
      • 8 years ago

      Same way it “doesn’t work” on iPad? Maybe the same way it “doesn’t work” out of the box on recent OSX? The big message saying “Install Flash KK!” will clue them in, and if not, Youtube should be defaulting to HTML5 soon enough, likely before Win8 RTM.

      Die Flash, DIE.

    • ApockofFork
    • 8 years ago

    Not that this isn’t good in a lot of ways but what about the Hulus of the world for whom there is no decent alternative to flash. HTML5 doesn’t give them the kind of copyprotection and control they need. Also I wonder if silverlight will be treated as a plug-in. Netflix runs on that. Is microsoft expecting you to always use non-metro to use those websites. That would be a pain.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Apps. They’ll release a Windows app for it instead of you browsing the web to its site. Microsoft is all in with the Apple model. I’m not sure if this is funny or just pathetic.

    • davidedney123
    • 8 years ago

    Adobe have to be one of the worst software companies in the world, turning out half baked crap year after year with extortionate price tags. Nice to see two companies that make decent products joining forces to rid us of one of their worst products.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 8 years ago

    Die, Flash, die!

    One of the things the iPad did *right* was start to take a stand against Flash…hopefully this will help build on that and Flash can finally fade away. I’m sure some apps will still need it, I doubt it’ll die entirely, but I really hope it gets to the point where most web sites don’t use it.

    • Jigar
    • 8 years ago

    Microsoft to Apple: Watch and learn Johnny.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Mircosoft to Apple: Ya you are right again.

      MS 2011 [quote<]Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers.[/quote<] Steve Jobs 2010 [quote<] Third, there’s reliability, security and performance.[/quote<] [url<]http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/[/url<]

        • wierdo
        • 8 years ago

        Notice you can still run flash in the desktop version of IE10, so this only impacts the Metro interface that’s aimed at touch screens and simplicity.

        This means you don’t lose the choice or have to go through anything complex to get what you want from your PC.

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          Ya you can still use it in full blown IE yet but it is clear which way the wind is blowing.

            • wierdo
            • 8 years ago

            I like this approach personally, keep the general public (like my mother) away from the complexity, but give the more tech-y people the freedom to do whatever they wanna do with their machine.

            I can see this encouraging sites to move to html5, which is cool. On the other hand I wanna be able to use Flash when I choose to, so win win as far as I’m concerned.

        • Jigar
        • 8 years ago

        You didn’t get my point, Microsoft didn’t abandoned flash, but they did have it their way.

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          That’s because you have no point. It’s just another example of MS following Apples example. Let’s just hope they pull it off better then what they attempted with Zune and WP7.

            • Jigar
            • 8 years ago

            Oh really ? The point where Apple was criticized globally for abandoning flash in iphone, and same thing is going on here as well, but Microsoft is playing smart.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            it does seem to be a bit more diplomatic.

            • Deanjo
            • 8 years ago

            So you think you are going to have the full IE 8 on your phone?

            • Jigar
            • 8 years ago

            And you are so sure it won’t ?

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            microsoft has publicly stated that the new browser in mango on wp7 is THE FULL IE9 browser. google it, it’s true.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            I hope not. It’s a 2-year-old browser.

            • moog
            • 8 years ago

            Full IE10.

            • maxxcool
            • 8 years ago

            Let’s hope they don’t follow Jobs/Apple at all. Besides when the great overlord-j dies in the next 6 months apple will loose all there vision anyways. on another note, apples limited market can be accredited to their stubborn unwillingness to use flash.

            • Taddeusz
            • 8 years ago

            Since when do iDevices that don’t support Flash have a limited market? The reason for Apple’s limited, but growing, Mac market is Microsoft’s near complete saturation of the personal computer market. Apple is one of the reasons Microsoft doesn’t dominate the entire market.

            • End User
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]on another note, apples limited market can be accredited to their stubborn unwillingness to use flash.[/quote<] Ya. It is killing their sales in the tablet market.

          • JohnC
          • 8 years ago

          I can still watch Flash-based videos on my MacBook Pro, using a non-mobile version of OS X… what’s your point?

        • mutarasector
        • 8 years ago

        As much as I hate to say it, you’re right. I also think it’s a smart move on Microsoft’s part.

        The real question is just how will Mozilla Firefox deal with plugins in the future? Strange as it may seem, I almost favor Mozilla taking a bit of an Apple-esque approach to a bit of a more tightly controlled ‘app’-like extensions ecosystem for their browser… once they get over the the ‘lets ramp up the revision numbers to appear like we’re catching up’ syndrome, that is…

        I know they’re into open web standards and all, but I suspect after the recent flurry of builds, their supporting developers could probably catch their breathe for a change, and would appreciate a more cohesive long term strategy with a more stable development environment by now. The BIG issue to me seems to be addressing memory leaks (which I understand v 7 significantly improves).

      • moog
      • 8 years ago

      To be fair to all opinions expressed in this thread I’ve given you all a -1.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Yep, me too – I couldn’t resist.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    Adobe can’t make a proper Flash for Linux 64. Watching Flash videos on it is pure pain.

      • Waco
      • 8 years ago

      This. It hurts just thinking about it.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Works fine here, has for a long time.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        yah, i’ve don’t understand the whining about flash x64 on linux. i’ve never had issues with it on any of my ubuntu based rigs.

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          I assume he is referring to not having full acceleration (which Adobe disabled in the recent builds).

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            hmm. interesting. i haven’t noticed it, my q6600 doesn’t require it, but that’s good to know.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Use Windows, and things will work.

        • Joe Miller
        • 8 years ago

        Is your mission to generate comments that attract negative attention?

          • mutarasector
          • 8 years ago

          It’s generally known as ‘trolling’, and personally I think it’s about a tie between Neely and ssk. I rather like both of their trollery efforts, although I have to admit, ssk recently pwned me but good. 🙂 But try as I might, I just can’t seem to cach up to neely on the negative votes…

          Bear in mind, they aren’t your mundane boorish variety of trolls however, as they often contribute interesting posts as well.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            what? when? i remember a discussion, but not the context. i remember no pwning.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          I’m merely offering an alternative point of view. But a lot of folks don’t like to hear about viewpoints that don’t match their own.

          I tried Linux a while back, and it was a pain. I didn’t enjoy having to look for peripherals that have compatible drivers, and I got pissed off when my scroll wheel didn’t scroll.. it was a somewhat easy fix with a config edit somewhere, but I want somebody else to do that crap for me – I don’t have the time/energy to “hack the OS” to make basic features work.

          Remember Charlie’s rant about “Sandy Bridge = the biggest disappointment of the year”. Why? Because he couldn’t make Linux work with it. Well, he should’ve tried Windows instead.

          That’s why Apple/MS make boatloads of money – their stuff works.

        • albundy
        • 8 years ago

        finally! and thank you!

        • bhassel
        • 8 years ago

        Until they don’t, anyway

        • mutarasector
        • 8 years ago

        You get a +1 to offset at least 1 of the -1s dude… heheh.

        • mutarasector
        • 8 years ago

        I guess some folks just don’t get your joke, eh? I’m catching up to you though apparently. I’m up to -3… maybe if I work a little harder. 🙂

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          I’m used to it..

          +1 for you – I can’t let you catch up..

      • PenGun
      • 8 years ago

      Works fine for me.

      • Cova
      • 8 years ago

      No issues on any of my systems.

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    I would hate to be Adobe, watching the whole internet start turning on your software, and no matter what they do i cant see them stopping the defection to HTML5.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      And who is in a better position to create new development tools to let web developers port their Flash content to HTML5?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Everyone knows Adobe is opposed to new development that isn’t on their schedule, and this certainly can’t be on their schedule. Look how long it took to get 64-bit support in their Creative Suite, or how long it took them to port the Creative Suite to Apple’s Cocoa APIs. If they didn’t come up with it, it’s very slow to get done. Not Invented Here.

          • ImSpartacus
          • 8 years ago

          What about Adobe Edge? Isn’t that like Flash (the application), but with HTML 5?

          I think Adobe knows that Flash’s days are numbers.

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