It was announced this week at Build Windows that IE10 in the Windows 8 Metro UI would not support any plugins. The goal is to eliminate common performance and security flaws, e.g. Adobe Flash in being increasingly viewed (at least by me) as a vulnerable attack vector that doesn’t get updated quite as well as it should. This ban effects Flash, ActiveX, etc.
Note: IE10 via the desktop does still support plugins.
I paid little attention to this story until last night when a couple of developers I was spending time with expressed how they felt. They were not happy; not one little bit. One of them had made great investment in a SaaS cloud product that was based on one or more plugins. Their work, if nothing changes with IE10 for Metro, will have been for naught because they will have to convert everything to HTML5. I don’t know what the toolset is like so I am not sure about how easy/difficult such a porting operation would be.
This morning I was lucky to sit down for breakfast with two other developers who I had met the previous morning at breakfast. I asked them what they thought. Firstly, they hadn’t heard the news. They made some very interesting points:
- Apple users have lived without Flash and other plugins for years. OK, Apple users are a little different because they “do what they have done told by the turtle-necked one”, and they are used to not having access to all of the possibilities we PC users have had for 20 years.
- Developers and users might not have such a bad reaction if they are educated about they why’s and how’s of plugin removal. Yes, there will be a vocal minority, but Microsoft has to have the toolset and education available to win them back.
- A critical plugin is ActiveX. It apparently will not be compiled for ARM. The same is probably true of lots of other plugins that are used in personal and commercial apps. If true application universality across x86, x64, and ARM is to happen then there has to be a common denominator. That is HTML5.
I’m sure this one will boil up slowly over the coming 6-12 months. Maybe when launch happens, Metro UI will be ignored because of this, and users will focus on IE10 for the desktop. Maybe legacy business apps that use God-knows-what will be an issue – let’s remember that IE6 is still widely used on XP because of them!