Windows 8 will have two versions of Internet Explorer 10 — a desktop version and the Metro version, which is optimized for tablets.
Part of that optimization will be a plugin free experience, meaning Metro IE10 will be primarily HTML5 and will not support browser plugins, including Flash.
“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, head of the Internet Explorer team, on Microsoft’s official blog.
Microsoft’s reasoning is eerily similar to Steve Jobs’s legendary open letter on Flash from April 2010 in which he wrote, “The mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”
Hachamovitch goes on to explain how today’s web is largely HTML5-based and designed for a plugin-free experience. Microsoft recently examined 97,000 web sites, and discovered that 62% of them use Flash, but many of those need it only to display ads. Furthermore, a large number of Flash-using sites fall back to HTML5 if the user’s browser doesn’t support it.
Although the desktop version of IE10 will continue to support all plugins and extensions, this is another defeat for Adobe, whose Flash is slowly losing relevance as the web expands to smartphones and tablets. Interestingly, Silverlight isn’t mentioned in Microsoft’s posts about the plugin-free web.