Adobe Flash in Windows 8 Metro, but not technically a plug-in

Today’s Windows 8 rumour is that Adobe Flash will be baked into Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8, not only in the desktop edition but also in Metro.

Until this is confirmed by Microsoft, it is only a rumour. However, it seems likely to me. The way this rumour mill works is:

  • Some journalists and book authors working closely with Microsoft already have information on Windows 8 that is under non-disclosure.
  • Some enthusiast sites obtain leaked builds of Windows 8 and poke around in them. Unlike new Mac OS X releases, Windows builds are near-impossible to keep secure because Microsoft needs to share them with hardware partners, and mysteriously copies turn up on on the Internet.
  • When an interesting fact is leaked, this allows those journalists and book authors who already have the information to write about it, since most non-disclosure agreements allow reporting on what is already known from other sources.

That is my understanding, anyway. So when you read on WinUnleaked.tk that Flash is in IE10 you may be sceptical; but when Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera report the same story in more detail, you can probably believe it.

Back to the main story: presuming this is accurate, Microsoft has received Flash source code from Adobe and integrated it into IE10, in a similar manner to what Google has done with Flash in Chrome. This means that Flash in IE10 is not quite a plug-in. However, on the Metro side the inclusion of Flash is apparently a compatibility feature:

So, Microsoft has extended the Internet Explorer Compatibility View list to include rules for popular Flash-based web sites that are known to meet certain criteria. That is, Flash is supported for only those popular but legacy web sites that need it. This feature is not broadly available for all sites.

say Thurrott and Rivera, though I presume this only applies to the Metro IE10 rather than the desktop version.

Does this make sense? Not altogether. Oddly, while I have heard plenty of criticism of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I have not heard many objections to the lack of Flash in Metro IE. Since Apple does not support Flash on iOS, many sites already provide Flash-free content for tablet users. Further, on the x86 version of Windows 8 there is an easy route to Flash compatibility: just open the site in the desktop browser.

That said, there is still plenty of Flash content out there and being able to view it in Windows 8 is welcome, especially if you can make your own edits to the compatibility list to get Flash content on less well-known sites. My guess is that Microsoft wants to support Flash for the same reason Android devices embraced it: a tick-box feature versus Apple iOS.

One further thought: this is a sad moment for Silverlight, if Microsoft is supporting Flash but not Silverlight on the Metro side of Windows 8.

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7 comments to Adobe Flash in Windows 8 Metro, but not technically a plug-in

  • Tom

    It’s certainly plausible given the sources. But raises a lot of questions.

    I wonder how the Flash source code fared when it went through security scrutiny in the post-XP SP2 Microsoft.

    Also makes me wonder about the built-in Metro PDF reader. Also based upon Adobe source code?

  • “Also makes me wonder about the built-in Metro PDF reader. Also based upon Adobe source code?”

    Good point, and very likely the case. Microsoft has a long-standing cooperation with Adobe.

    As for Silverlight: yes, couldn’t be plainer how much .NET has become the fifth wheel in Sinofsky’s Windows, reluctantly dragged along for appearance’s sake but not really wanted. Sinofsky ruthlessly goes for what’s popular (JavaScript, C++, now Flash) and then gives it a proprietary twist (WinRT for JS/C++, now Flash under MS control — perhaps WinRT hooks in a future version?).

  • Alex Atkin UK

    Its doubly sad after Microsoft went to such lengths to drop Flash from the Xbox 360 dashboard, to replace it with Silverlight, to now seemingly be attempting to drop Silverlight from the desktop.

    It really gives the impression that they do not know where they are going with all this.

    Its doubly puzzling with Netflix relatively recently switching to Silverlight for their DRM. Although I’m guessing there are APIs to replicate what Silverlight is doing in plain WinRT?

  • Fallon Massey

    Sinofsky, Balmer and whatever’s new… the 3 stooges?

  • Niclas Lindgren

    If I was on the Silverlight team, that might just have been the way I would have gone about getting SL into Metro, once flash is there it is much harder to argue against SL and it is easier to pitch the case for Flash than SL. The HTML fan club at MS is probably being attack from all directions at the moment.

    It is sad when political reasons block great technology such as SL (and even adobe flash).

  • Lawrence R

    Silverlight was Microsoft’s attempt to compete with Flash. It failed; at the time Flash was far too entrenched for Silverlight to take it down. So why not kill Silverlight now?

    Some day HTML5 will replace Flash entirely. And in the meantime Flash is still well entrenched. Sinofsky can redeploy the Silverlight team (some of whom used to work for Adobe anyway) to integrate Flash into Win8 and everyone’s happy. Except of course the developers and companies that bet on Silverlight.

  • >Microsoft has received Flash source code from Adobe and integrated it into IE10

    fyi, similar to how Flash Player is distributed with Google Chrome, Adobe does all of the player development, and then shares the player with Microsoft to distribute via its update mechanism.

    Microsoft doesn’t have access to the Flash Player source code.

    mike chambers

    mesh@adobe.com