Microsoft drops Flash from IE on Windows 8 tablets


The Metro interface is designed for when Windows 8 is being used on a tablet

One of the web’s most widely used technologies is going to be absent from some versions of Windows 8.

Microsoft is to drop support for Adobe Flash from the web browser that works with the Metro interface on Windows 8. The Metro user interface is most likely to be used on tablets as it displays applications and programs as easy to touch coloured tiles. Flash will still be supported in the Windows 8 desktop interface and the desktop version of IE.

The announcement about the lack of Flash support was made in a blog post by Dean Hachamovitch, head of IE development at Microsoft. In the post he said Microsoft had worked hard to make Metro rely as little as possible on older technologies. Instead it had concentrated on the latest version of web technology HTML 5.

Supporting HTML 5 meant making Metro plug-in free, he said. One of the most widely used plug-ins for web browsers is Adobe’s Flash as many sites use it to show video, multimedia and games.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” wrote Mr Hachamovitch. “Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style [user interface],” he said.

Microsoft showed off the Metro interface this week at its Build developers conference in California. Windows 8 has been “re-imagined” said Microsoft and the Metro interface was specifically designed with tablets and touch screens in mind.

 Apple dropped support for Flash in early 2010 saying it made Macs crash. Mr Hachamovitch said plug-ins were rapidly becoming unnecessary. Flash was by
far the most widely used plug-in, he said. Removing plug-ins will mean longer battery life on tablets, protect privacy and improve security, he said. Users will still be able to get at sites that run Flash by exiting the Metro interface, returning to the classic desktop view and running Internet Explorer.

Adobe responded to the news in a blogpost of its own.

“We expect Windows desktop to be extremely popular for years to come (including Windows 8 desktop) and that it will support Flash just fine,” wrote Danny
Winokur.”In addition,” he wrote, “we expect Flash based apps will come to Metro via Adobe AIR, much the way they are on Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS today.”

In dropping Flash support, Microsoft is following Apple’s lead which has had a long-standing policy of not letting its gadgets support the technology.

In an open letter explaining the ban published in April 2010, Apple boss Steve Jobs said: “We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash”. Flash was “the number one reason Macs crash”, he added.

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