Last September, after many months of unwavering HTML5 advocacy, Microsoft announced that the Metro version of Internet Explorer in Windows 8 wouldn’t support Adobe Flash—or any other third-party plug-ins, for that matter.
Fast forward eight months, and it looks like Microsoft may have chosen to compromise. A forum post on the WinUnleaked.tk forums, which has been picked up by everyone from Engadget to Paul Thurrott of Windows IT Pro, says the Metro version of IE is now expected to feature built-in Flash support. Along with a few screenshots, the forum post says the following:
Adobe Flash player is included in the Release Preview, Adobe shared the "source code" with Microsoft. Internet Explorer Immersive will coming with flash too.
Microsoft’s rationale for excluding Flash was, in the company’s words, that a plug-in free experience "improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers." What’s changed? Perhaps not as much as you think. As Thurrott points out, Microsoft isn’t really breaking its own rule: "By making Flash a part of IE 10," Thurrott says, "[Microsoft] can ensure the code meets its own standards for reliability, compatibility, security, and, probably most important, performance."
As long as everything works as it should—and Microsoft can deliver timely Flash security updates—then I suppose it’s all for the best. For better or for worse, the web is choc-full of Flash content, including ugly Flash-only websites that aren’t usable without the plug-in. HTML5 may be superior in a lot of respects, but advocacy shouldn’t trump practicality.