Microsoft has announced on their B8 Building Windows 8 Blog that Internet Explorer 10 or IE 10 will be a completely plug-in free browser on Windows 8. This means that the world’s most common browser plugin will soon loose it’s place in the world’s most common operating system. This decision does not come as much of a shock and is more of a good news for the future of the Internet.
According to IE Team Leader Dean Hachamovitch’s post on the blog, plug-ins were important the history of browsing. They filled in important gaps in the browsing experience that the Internet by itself could not. That is how Flash gained internet-wise usage in the first place — it was something that allowed web-devs to do more than what HTML and CSS allowed them. But now that HTML5 is here and the web in general has evolved quite a lot, there’s no longer a need for plugins. They have served their purpose. And using them only increases problems.
Running Flash on tables will not only slow the system down but it will also degrade battery performance and also create security and stability issues. And like the other reason the best actually, because as a designer it makes sense to me — it simply does not go with the Metro style! And they are very right, it simple doesn’t.
Although it is not without research that Microsoft decided to remove support for the most commonly used plugin from the latest version of their flagship software product. They conducted a thorough study of the top 97,000 websites and found out that only 62% used Flash. Then they found out that most of them have options for non-flash supporting browsers (Apple’s shunning of flash kinda made that process faster for sure).
In fact, even for the average browser, the changes should be evident. YouTube has long since started offering an HTML5 alternative. Major websites that depended heavily on flash to create a sophisticated online UI for their users have also started using HTML5. In fact, the biggest online store for Electronic Dance Music — Beatport, also recently executed a switchover to HTML5. It is the default for whenever they detect an HTML5 enabled browser, with an option for switching back to Flash. With Microsoft making Windows 8 a pan-device-class platform, Flash has just lost almost all its market. Apple and Google have already shunned it and once Windows 8 takes over, the only mainstream OS with flash support would be, ironically, Apple’s OS X. But then again, they started the whole debate with iOS. Although, it is possible that the Desktop part of Windows 8 will be supporting Flash in its browser. But with IE 10 seamlessly switching between Metro and Desktop, it probably won’t support Flash.
Flash is ancient technology and no one should be too sad to see it go. HTML5 is a much better alternative and is the true cross-platform solution. An it is much more touch-friendly, which was Apple’s point as well.