No plugins in Metro-style IE, and here is why

This evening was Ask the Experts time at Microsoft’s BUILD conference in Anaheim, California, so I took the opportunity to ask the Internet Explorer (IE) team why the Metro-style IE does not support plugins such as Adobe Flash and even Microsoft’s own Silverlight.

I find it puzzling since the desktop IE in Windows 8 does support plugins, and when a page is open in Metro-style IE there is an option to open it in desktop Windows, in which case all the ActiveX controls start working.

The reason I was given is that Microsoft cannot control or predict the user experience if these plugins are running. For example, a Silverlight applet might have a user interface designed for mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has built in touch gestures that work for HTML in IE but cannot do so for plugins.

Once a user takes the decision to open in desktop Windows, these considerations change since desktop Windows is a mouse and keyboard environment.

I expect performance was also a consideration.

I was also told that Apple has made the no-plugins option viable by taking the same line in the iPad. Sites have been forced to offer iPad-friendly versions of their sites, which will also work in Windows 8 Metro.

4 thoughts on “No plugins in Metro-style IE, and here is why”

  1. Does that mean Windows Media content also won’t work in Metro? And in terms of video codecs, did they mention what exactly they will support in Metro, and will it be different to what the ‘real’ IE supports?

    1. H.264 will definitely work. I would think the Windows media formats too but I’ll try to find out.


  2. I think I’m missing something in this. I gather the Flash Player itself is touch enabled in Android so I don’t think the problem is touch enabling plugins. If it was they could certify touch enabled ones.

    So are they really saying they want complete control of all gestures to ensure conformance to their UI/interaction standard? Or, are they saying plugin enabled content that is designed for mouse/keyboard input just can’t be made to work reasonably well?

    Love to hear more about this.

  3. There are ways to control HTML5 Metro touch from javascript, so the idea that a plugin would change the interaction is already possible in a standard metro app with MS extensions to javascript.

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