No Plug-In Support for Metro Version of Internet Explorer 10
September 18, 2011

No Plug-In Support for Metro Version of Internet Explorer 10

Following Apple's lead, Microsoft officials confirmed last week that one of the two versions of the Internet Explorer software that will be packaged with Windows 8 will not support browser plug-ins, various publications report.

In a September 14 blog post, Microsoft executive Dean Hachamovitch confirmed the reports, writing, "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," he added. "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."

According to Gregg Keizer of Computerworld, this does not mean that Windows 8 users will be totally unable to use plug-ins such as Adobe Flash. As mentioned above, there are two versions of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) shipping with the software.

One will run in the "Metro" style interface, which Keizer describes as "the tile-based look borrowed from Windows Phone 7." The other will operate the traditional desktop version of Windows 8 and reportedly will continue to support browser plug-ins.

The decision to ditch plug-ins, at least in part, came after Microsoft discovered that 62% of the top 97,000 websites in the world offered HTML5 video to non-flash devices, Ian Paul of PCWorld wrote on Thursday. Visiting a site that requires ActiveX controls or other types of plug-in content will result in a prompt to switch from Metro to traditional-style desktop view, thus granting the user access to the desired content, he added.

"What Microsoft didn't mention is where this leaves the company's own Flash competitor, Silverlight," Paul noted. "Will Silverlight compatibility be built into the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10, or is Silverlight on the Web gone too? The technology still has life as a tool for developers, so Silverlight on the Web may not be a big loss for the Windows maker. Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing."

Hachamovitch stated that using the Metro-style version of IE10 without plug-ins would improve battery life, security, reliability and privacy. Many of those concerns were shared by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who in a letter made available to the public in April 2010, stated that Flash software would never appear on iOS devices for much the same reasons.

"We know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash," Jobs wrote in that letter, according to Keizer. "We don't want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash."


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