2011
09.16

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!

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4 comments so far

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  1. I personally think this is a good thing. There is no need for plugins any more and they do cause issues. Investing in learning HTML5 is really the way to go and even Adobe have realised that, they released an update to their ‘media server’ product that detects if Flash is not available and serves the media using HTML5 if possible.

    I do think the addition of the javascript/css libraries for metro apps is also an important step forward, this is something that I can use as a web developer to build metro apps that interact with other web services, like Lotus Domino. I’ve already built a concept pp in the dev preview that connects into Domino to display data in a metro interface.

    • Interesting to hear your view point. I think I agree with you. Early days, and MSFT are very quick to remind us this week that this is a developer preview release.

  2. Weird, IE has so many security issues on its own, without Flash. Why not to focus on them instead of blocking Flash? I’ve also heard that there will be no Chrome for Windows 8, that looks for me like a big fail if true.

    • Flash has a lot of issues. It is subject to many drive by attacks now. I’m getting 1-2 updates for it every week. I am probably in the minority: leaving Adobe updates turned on and installing the updates. And MSFT aren’t alone in this; Apple have pretty much gone down the HTML5 route already.

      As for “removing the chrome” – you have completely misunderstood. It is a pun by MSFT. It refers to removing scroll bars, menus, etc, from the Metro apps. It has nothing to do with Google Chrome. MSFT can do nothing to prevent Google from supporting Windows 8. That is up to Google.

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