On Tuesday, Microsoft hosted a big demo for Windows 8, the company's forthcoming operating system that features seamless switching between a tablet-optimized user interface and a desktop PC-optimized interface. The next day, Microsoft announced via their Building Windows 8 blog that the developers' preview of the OS would support a new version of Internet Explorer 10 that doesn't need Adobe Flash to surf the web. While browsing in “Metro,” the tablet-friendly side of Windows 8, this version of IE10 eschews plug-ins, namely Adobe Flash, in favor of complete reliance on HTML5.
(Flash and other plug-ins will still be available on the desktop version of the Windows 8 OS.)
While Adobe plug-ins do allow you to open PDFs and watch Lana Del Rey over and over again until you throw up, they’re also notoriously difficult for computers to process.
Writing for the Building Windows 8 blog, Internet Explorer team leader Dean Hachamovitch explained Microsoft's reasons for the change-up:
Running Metro-style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. 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.
Hachamovitch write that he and his team looked at 97,000 websites and determined that Flash wasn't always necessary. "Many of the 62% of these sites that currently use Adobe Flash already fall back to HTML5 video in the absence of plug-in support," he wrote.
Finally, something Apple and Microsoft can actually agree on.
In 2010, Steve Jobs came out strongly against Flash, citing its poor performance on mobile devices like iPhones, iPods, and iPads. “Flash was created during the PC era - for PCs and mice," wrote Jobs, adding that "Flash isn’t necessary" for Apple's mobile gadgets.
HTML5, which eliminates the need for Adobe Flash software, is currently poised to become the primary web standard. According to Apple Insider, even Adobe is over Flash. Sort of. Last week, Adobe announced that their new Flash Media Server product will also support HTML5 video, which means that iPhones and iPads should be able to view converted Flash content without significant battery strain or other drawbacks associated with Flash.
However, according to Danny Winokur, vice president and general manager of Platform at Adobe, this is not the end of Flash. In a post on Adobe’s official blog, he writes, "We expect Windows desktop to be extremely popular for years to come (including Windows 8 desktop) and that it will support Flash just fine...In addition, 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."
To learn more about Windows 8, take a look at our slideshow of the best features the new OS has to offer. Read on to see how radically different this new version of Windows really is, then check out how Windows 8 differs from Lion, Apple's recent laptop OS release.