Web Sites and a Plug-in Free Web

The transition to a plug-in free Web is happening today. Any site that uses plug-ins needs to understand what their customers experience when browsing plug-in free. Lots of Web browsing today happens on devices that simply don’t support plug-ins. Even browsers that do support plug-ins offer many ways to run plug-in free.

Metro style IE runs plug-in free to improve battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Previously, we wrote about how we use IE’s Compatibility View List to make sure sites that have a plug-in free experience for other browsers provide that same experience to IE10 users. This post describes a way for sites that continue to rely on plug-ins to provide consumers browsing with Metro style IE the best possible experience.

Developers with sites that need plug-ins can use an HTTP header or meta tag to signal Metro style Internet Explorer to prompt the user.

HTTP Header

X-UA-Compatible: requiresActiveX=true


<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="requiresActiveX=true" />

Metro style IE10 detects these flags, and provides the consumer a one-touch option to switch to IE10 on the desktop:

Screen shot of a fictional video site showing a prompt that reads "The site uses add-ons that require Internet Explorer on the desktop." Three action buttons are offered: Open, Don't show again for this site, and Close.

In addition to respecting these X-UA-Compatible flags specified by the developer, the Compatibility View List can also specify a site that needs to run in the desktop.

This mechanism provides a short-term mitigation. The desktop browsing experience and most plug-ins were not designed for smaller screens, battery constraints, and no mouse. Providing an easy way to the Windows desktop is the last resort when no comparable plug-in free fallback content exists.

A plug-in free Web benefits consumers and developers and we all take part in the transition. IE10 makes it easy to provide the best possible experience while you migrate your site.

—John Hrvatin, Program Manager Lead, Internet Explorer

Comments (81)
  1. Jon says:

    What about sites like Netflix? They can't switch to HTML5 video because their content providers won't license their IP for DRM-free distribution. Whatever the rights and wrongs of DRM, this puts those sites in a awkward position. It seems likely that content will disappear from the web and only be available through apps. Or maybe that's the idea here?

  2. FremyCompany says:

    I'm afraid that, even if you were right to ask everyone to move away from plugins, it does not mean that the world will follow you. But, okay, let's see how things are headed.

  3. FremyCompany says:

    Plus, if you're making your browser advertise itself as "iPad" or "FireFox", you should support prefixed properties for the browser, too. Do you do that?

  4. Netflix customer says:

    Maybe the point is that like on the iPad Netflix should write an app?

  5. Lance says:

    @Jon – for one if you are trying to compete with netflix you have the money to implement an app. A ton of flash sites are barely more than containers for images and text, another large segment are those containing user generated or company generated content that should not have licensing issues that necessitate DRM be present.

  6. John says:

    Browsers are slowly dying, in metro world IE will get used less and less, it will all be about APPS …

    I wished iPad would release it's browser usage stats compared to APP usage…

  7. John says:

    Can you AUTO-DETECT as well and show this prompt?  The header approach is very nice BUT requiring billions of old sites to add this header is asking alot!!!

  8. Joe says:

    Right, as others have said – if you need to extend the browser then write an app.  The UX is better anyway.

  9. Tyler says:

    So IE10 is incompatible with the internet? Nice.

    I think this move is very bad for the future of the internet It encourages (and often requires) things to be built as apps rather than websites, which once again locks applications into specific OS's and kills the openness of the web. The user as well as the user experience, pays a heavy toll with this approach, one we can't get back once we start down the road. Microsoft and IE need to be more responsible than this.

  10. Stilgar says:

    I am so happy about this. Long live the apps!

  11. Nathan says:

    Tyler – I believe you have it backwards.  Plug ins, most notably Flash, are incompatible with the Internet.

  12. Tyler says:

    @Nathan plugins are incompatible with where we want the internet to move towards, not where it is now or where it will be when IE10 comes out. Netflix is a great example. Users should not have to open an OS specific application to watch. They should be able to navigate to the website and view it right there. These changes force developers to build OS specific versions of things that should be universally accessible on the internet.

    Please don't make the topic about Flash vs HTML that's not the point. Its about user experience and where technologies are today. Its about large websites that currently rely on plugins, For example: kids sites like Nickelodeon.com and Pokemon.com. These sites won't work in Metro, and we should not be rolling out changes that just break things like that. Its not a problem for you or I, because we understand the 'why', users do not.

  13. nnsun says:

    I think I read somewhere that many tablets will only run Windows 8 Metro, and won't have the classic desktop. Since most sites today still use plugins, will that mean tablet users just won't be able to access the web well? This could be a major downfall.

  14. Davis says:

    I dunno, the iPad and iPhone cannot run plugins AT ALL and they have done pretty well. IE10 still runs Flash, you'll just need to switch to desktop mode to run it.

  15. john says:

    Well said Tyler!

  16. Gabriel says:

    So what about intranet sites? There is a TON of Microsoft intranet sites that use SharePoint, or some weird Microsoft activeX plugin to function, or heck even Java for really old business critical items. How is preventing users from using their device how they want just because you want to force your agenda on them make sense? I'd say at least make it a preference to disable plugins on the metro IE, with it defaulted to off.

  17. Joe says:

    There seems to be contradicting reports whether to expect IE 10 desktop mode with Flash in ARM CPUs.  Can you clear this up?

  18. And so we have another piece of evidence supporting my argument against Metro-style apps. If I need to switch to another program to use the full version of the browser, why does Metro exist in the first place?

    While the idea of a plugin-free browser is certainly a good one, today's Internet isn't ready for that yet. A combination of a bad user interface and poor compatibility with today's Internet means that I will probably use only the desktop version of IE.

  19. Simon says:

    @Gabriel – You're right, and what's worse is that Microsoft are about to make a big play around SQL Server 2010 Business Intelligence capabilities with Power View and that requires Silverlight 5.  Given the near full-screen rendering of Metro style IE, it is going to be shame that powerful business dashboards won't play nicely in this enviornment.

  20. Please give us at least the option of using plugins on x86 desktops and laptops within Metro style IE. Its just dumb having to switch between the two.

    The idea of plugin free browsing on tablets and other touch devices is fine, but while the vast majority of us use a good ol' mouse and keyboard, allow us to use plugins!

  21. Mentis says:

    Plugins can be made opt-in for each loading of a webpage. Though plugins are installed in browser, they should not load into webpages automatically. "This page requires xyz plugin – allow/block/hide" notice will come every time a webpage that needs plugins loads. This format will help in phone browsers too.

  22. Spedizle my Nizzle says:

    Are you familiar with Lawrence's Law: http://www.lawrenceslaw.com/

  23. Common Sense says:

    So I get an email in Outlook with a link to a web site with a video I'm supposed to watch. When I click on the link W8 opens it in Metro IE10. Great. Now I have to hope to god that the developer put the "magic tag" in the web page so I get the one touch selection or select from an obscure menu that takes me back to IE10 on the desktop. Wow! That's helpful! Haven't you heard that context switching is bad?

    Microsoft is late to the tablet party. Stop fooling yourselves that you can come to it offering less and be successful. GIVE US CHOICE! You are not as clever as you thing you are.

  24. RE says:

    I'm will to put my money on this. IE10 in Metro will support flash ( probably ver 11.2.2 )

    Many type of window's user will not agree for it. Apple example is not an indication because there users are different people.

  25. thomas says:

    metro ie sucls just like all imersive apps. as soon as the damn metro ie opens i click use desktop version or what ever that choice is. on a pc metro has to go. if i could get the new windows explorer and the new task manager in windows 8 using one of the tweeks to disable metro i would do it.

  26. Downloader says:

    Please provide us with a "New Download" (or Create Download) button in IE's download manager, so the user can enlist the download by manually entering the URL to save a file, resource or the entire webpage within the download manager. Also, introduce the paste shortcut Ctrl+V in download manager for a single entry and Ctrl+Shift+V for batch entries.

  27. thomas says:

    microsoft should either disable metro in windows 8 or port all the good changes in windows 8 without metro into windows 7. i love the changes except for the damn metro imersive

  28. thomas says:

    just use another browser if microsoft ever stops using desktop ie and if microsoft ever stops having the desktop environment it is time to dump microsoft

  29. thomas says:

    metro is just like any other cellphone tablet interface which is crap

  30. sevenacids says:

    Not a big surprise. There's a simple reason why the Metro version of IE10 doesn't support plug-ins, and it's not necessarily because of security or battery life reasons: It's just technically impossible, at least at the moment. All applications targeting the Windows Runtime cannot be extended, there's no support for dynamically loading code into a running process. Metro-style applications are sandboxed, and all resources (program libraries, etc.) that they want to use have to be defined in a manifest at build-time. Simple like that.

  31. Realbt says:

    @N. Sun,

    So by your logic both iOS and future Android users cannot access the web well, but in reality it doesn't seem the case.

  32. Silverlight says:

    hummmm…. plugin-free… Silverlight… interesting

  33. Gary says:

    So glad to see that ActiveX is dead on mobile/tablets… the fact that IE will flip to the old-school mode of the "El Camino" Windows 8 OS just goes to show how utterly messed up IE8 is going to be.

    Microsoft… if you're gonna make a tablet… make a tablet…. it should contain 0 (ZERO) content, UI, metaphors, mouse behaviors or styluses from "regular" desktop Windows.

    Not only are you releasing tablets that are only half tablets… but you've introduced bloat into your desktop OS that no one wants.  Way to kill 2 product lines with one move.

    Looks like Windows 7 will have a longer shelf life than XP had… Windows 8 is the new Windows Vista.

  34. Aethec says:

    So…how do you play games on websites such as ArmorGames or Kongregate? You wait for developers to rewrite everything in JS/.NET/C++ and submit an app for Win8? Great!

    …get real.

  35. sevenacids_is_wrong says:

    Seven, At //Build I spoke to the engineer who pulled plug-ins from IE for the metro version. He said they could easily add them back in. They didn't re-write IE in WinRT. Simple like that.

  36. windows user says:

    Epic fail!!! Sorry, but switching between desktop and metro ie definitly isn't a solution. Tablets from competitors provides browsing with plugins. You can be certain that you will read in every tech magazin that microsoft simply fails, because it doesn't provide real browsing at metro level. I really question my self what kind of product managers work at microsoft.

    My guess: Microsoft just wants to cheat by disabling all plugins to get a better performance when using metro.

  37. Just when Silverlight has become a viable solution for writing client side applications, and supported on mobile platforms (Windows Phone), Microsoft decides to end all its support by cutting off plugins from IE.

    Nice was to encourage developers to invest in MS products.

  38. Martijn Saly says:

    ActiveX must simply be completely eliminated. It's a pain in the ass in every way, since IE will always be the only one supporting it (if at all), and security-wise it's more like a household sieve than an antimatter containment vessel.

  39. Bug says:

    @IETeam Please look into the Back button issue. I am getting this problem very often. I navigate to a page. Then, I click Back and nothing happens. When I click and hold the Back button, I find that, before the previous "actual" page, there are lots of entries for (I think) all the ads and AJAX requests that might have been generated in this page. I have to manually click-and-hold and choose the previous proper page to go to it. It is really frustrating!

  40. Jens Lewald says:

    you said:

    "This mechanism provides a short-term mitigation. The desktop browsing experience and most plug-ins were not designed for smaller screens, battery constraints, and no mouse. Providing an easy way to the Windows desktop is the last resort when no comparable plug-in free fallback content exists.

    A plug-in free Web benefits consumers and developers and we all take part in the transition. IE10 makes it easy to provide the best possible experience while you migrate your site."

    What kind of bullshit. Your comment function here lacks during scripting errors. Your WebSite here lacks on a Tablet.

    And all that  without Plug Ins. On my Andoird Flash Rocks. On my PC Silverlight and Flash rocks.

    The feeling is hundred times better than you poor HTML Website.

    So and now you can delte the Post.

    Thanks Jens

  41. Matthew says:

    When is WebGL coming to IE?

  42. How to fail says:

    Create a tablet that doesn't support flash (or even your own silverslight) to ruin the nice tablet browsing.  Even if you don't support flash games… at least support it for font substitution and video players!

    I can see the new ad campaign now: "It all meets a dead end with a Windows 8 tablet"


  43. Simon says:

    Completely useless and unacceptable.

    Windows 8 Metro is a store front to boost Microsoft's profits through application sales. Preventing users from installing Flash proves this.

    Making access to Flash games and websites either inconvenient or impossible, blocking the purchase of software from outside the Microsoft store and taking a huge cut from purchases. Since when did you lot get the right to dictate what users can do with THEIR computers.

    Just because Apple got away with it, with their sh**** toys doesn't mean you should follow suit, I smell anti-trust all over this.

    Windows 8 say goodbye to freedom.

  44. Aaron Simmons says:

    What about microphone/webcam access?  A webpage that makes use of the microphone or webcam *must* use Flash, as there's no microphone-access standard for browsers.  🙁

  45. Robert says:

    Will IE10 support windowless plugins?  

    I currently support such a plugin (ActiveX) that does not display a window, but is used to interface to our application.  Web page clients can use the plugin to get data from the application and process/render that data however they like (using HTML5 canvas, for example).

    Thanks very much.

  46. ieblog says:

    @Robert: No plugs-ins (ActiveX controls, Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), or toolbars) run in Metro style Internet Explorer. All are still supported in desktop IE, however.

  47. Gordon says:

    I think you guys have your new catch phrase!

    "Metro style IE10 – breaking the web in more ways than IE6 did!"

    Oh noes! Windows 8 my web page!

  48. BenW says:

    Can the current browser IE 9 be fixed so it supports the current version of the History specification before rushing on to the next yet to be delivered version.  DOM manipulation performance also that matches the current version of Chrome.  These will be the tests of valuable applications delivered in a browser that are possible using current plug-ins and that do not seem possible with existing browser software. Remember the old IBM advert when ecommerce came to the web pointing out the difference between a flaming gif which looked good but was totally useless v being able to perform a business transaction.

  49. BenW says:

    What happens if this occurs on an ARM based processor based tablet?

  50. BenW says:

    How is internationalization / localization coming along so as to be able to parse, format and display date times and currencies correctly for the user? A write up of the current state of this would be helpful.

  51. David says:


    "Just because Apple got away with it, with their sh**** toys doesn't mean you should follow suit".

    Apple's "toys" are the best selling tablets on the market by a massive margin. If you compare iPad's shipped to Android tablets (all of them together) shipped, iPad's win. If you compare iPad's sold to Android tablets _shipped_, iPad's win. If you compare actual sale figures for both camps, iPad's win.

    While you personally may enjoy flash on your tablet, I think the numbers speak for themselves when they say the majority of consumers really don't care for flash and would rather native or HTML5 applications. Adobe themselves have dropped mobile flash support, and are encouraging HTML5 instead.

    A mobile browsing experience without plugins is the most modern thing Microsoft have done in recent times, and I applaud them for it.

  52. It's staring you in the face says:

    There's a reason why for years and years the tablet solutions never caught on, and then suddenly the iPad waltzes in and sells millions – they didn't try and run a desktop system on a tablet. Apple could see that it needs to be a completely different OS. Wake up and smell the coffee – time is running out…

  53. @Jon:

    "What about sites like Netflix? They can't switch to HTML5 video because their content providers won't license their IP for DRM-free distribution. Whatever the rights and wrongs of DRM, this puts those sites in a awkward position. It seems likely that content will disappear from the web and only be available through apps. Or maybe that's the idea here?"

    I think you are confusing a couple of different issues. DRM/Codec on the one hand, and "Players" on the other. Both may or may not require a plugin when viewed within a web page by a browser.

    "Players" (unlike pure HTML5 containers) that require a plugin include Flash, REAL, SilverLight, QuickTime. These require a plugin, because the content is "encapsulated" within a proprietary format that only these player can play. The content itself may or may not require a further plugin in order to decode the content after the proprietary format is decoded: for example, DivX. MP4 files compressed using the high-quality H.264 shouldn't need an additional plugin, because they can easily be suuported by the browser itself or passed off to the devices built-in player and that is what happens in most cases. Is MP4 with H.264 codec what you mean by "HTML5 Video" (since that is the natural tendency for delivering good video?).

    DRM is a different issue. It is true that Netflix wouldn't be able to deliver video within a web page without the use of some mechanism to govern the DRM (such as a proprietary player system like Flash). But maybe I am confused, what is the issue here? Who would view a movie from a service like Netflix through a web browser page anyway? Would you not use a dedicated app?

    DRM can be applied to any number of video or audio file formats with different codecs. I rent movies on my iPod Touch and iPad from the iTunes Store. The iTunes app plays them. I also use Audible Book files; these have DRM and yet get played within iTunes Player because iTunes Player because Audible Books allows iTunes Player to unlock them (just put in your username and password). Audible uses a standard MP3 file (I imagine), and that is one of the formats iTunes Player supports — the DRM is added on top.

    So, surely Netflix can produce mobile apps if they haven't already. The BBC and all kinds of Broadcasters and Networks already do. These will be played by your device's built-in video player, and the app will perform the unlocking of the DRM. Voila: no "plugin" required — whether for internet browsers, codec, or encapsulating format (Flash/Silverlight/REAL/QuickTime).

    There are better and more efficient ways to play video on mobile devices than to use a proprietary web browser or internet plugin. There is NO issue for Netflix here.

    The iPad and iPhone play MP4 with H.264 files ("HTML5 video"?) very nicely because it is possible to use hardware acceleration with these files. Flash takes a lot of unessary software decoding, RAM and CPU power — and has done for years with little improvement in effieciency. H264 is about the best codec for file size to quality ratio, and it is easily decoded if supported by the device. Flash files can encapsulate H264 video files, but the whole advantage of H264 is then lost, as well as the plugin being required.

  54. BenW says:

    For those of you who believe building native apps for each OS is economic I would consider Facebook's IPO at $100bn today; a business model built around the browser and web.  This is nearly half MSFT's total market cap and with 800 million users.  In China 6 million new users come online to the web each week at present.

  55. @benaw

    For those who of you who think the "write once deploy everywhere" mantra is the best way forward in terms of delivering customer satisfaction, performance, UX, taking advantage of new technology as it becomes available, customizing experience and delivering quality —  I would consider the recapitualtion of MS in this article, the marginalisation of Adobe, and the sale of 17Million iPads and 37Million iPhones in the last quarter. This is nearly more than the total revenues of MS, Adobe and Netflix combined. In China, people are trying to get their hands on these devices that emphasize high quality native apps.

  56. Jan says:

    Great! Now fix photosynth.net

  57. I think the prospects of getting a Windows 8 tablet (specifically, x86/x86-64 ones) just have gotten a lot better. I have been browsing without Flash by the way of all my smartphones and it's been a really great experience, when you think about it. Most of the web work fine without requiring Flash. For the some that do, the desktop mode should do well enough.

  58. MP says:

    It's good to see that there are other people who realize that HTML5 is more marketing and hype than an effective framework for serious, non-trivial applications.  To those that don't know, it's not even an official, finished spec yet.  No browser fully implements it.  No two browsers implement the same features.  And even when they fully implement all the features, a lot of the spec doesn't go into implementation details, so each browser will implement the features differently, causing non-cross browser compatibility (take isolated storage, for example: IE won't read Chrome's isolated storage, etc.) as well as different performance and different experiences for the same code.  Each browser renders your code (script) differently, so you can't expect to ever "write once, work everywhere".

    As far as the reasons stated for plug-ins being bad, they are similar to Mr. Jobs' reasons…which I find a lot of fault with.  Security: is javascript really that much better?  Flash/SL not being built for touch-screen?  The WP7 OS seems to work fine with SL; it's just a matter of controls.  Either way, remember that HTML was not built with touch-screen in mind, either.  It was not even built with dynamic pages in mind.  It was built for static text pages.  Javascript was hacked together to reorder that text on the client pages.

    And now Microsoft is forcing developers to build pages using archaic, text-based technology.  This means–especially considering the matrix of OSes and browsers (and browser versions) that need to be tested and supported–means that efficiency without plugins (true write-once, work anywhere) will plunge (large teams required for even trivial applications).  Also, since HTML5 is still changing, expect to have to fix up apps whenever new browser versions come out, which is quite often.  That's why the people actually working on the HTML5 spec suggest a true usefulness date of HTML5 being 2022.

    This doesn't even bring up the fact that no real tools are available for developing HTML5/js when compared to the rich toolsets for SL and Flash.  Microsoft could at least come out with something that would help devs before they start forcing all of them to use hyper-text-based technology to develop their complex web applications.

    It's sad that Microsoft is so busy trying to catch up and has no idea to get something unique out there.  Their Windows 8 tablet is coming out, but what is it going to offer that REALLY makes people want to buy it over existing iPads and tablets?  They could have had plug-ins work in their browser to set them apart from the competition, but they're hiding behind apple…as will their sales.

    I love my WP7, but I can't even sell it to my own mom.  🙁  Nothing special about it–and when people are looking for phones that play Flash (which I'm surprised how many people as for that), obviously that's a no-sell, either.

    I could go on and on, but it's probably futile; the HTML5 hype has overtaken everybody…But as I see it, right now is a dark age of web development: more browsers, browser versions, and OSes than ever before; a lot of pressure to go to HTML5 but no tools, effective browser support, or user reach for HTML5, and now plugins are being shunned, which were the only efficient, well running, and well-tooled solution for serious applications.

    …though I have heard rumblings about more and more people realizing that HTML5 is not an answer…and that making HTML5/js a first-class citizen of Windows 8 is turning out to be a big mistake.  So maybe there is hope?  At least Microsoft pushed out the support date for Silverlight to 2021, which means it will be around almost until HTML5 will be viable.  Maybe.

  59. benaw says:

    @vierkant I don't think it is accurate to say Adobe as a company is marginalized. Its value has increased by 17.5% in the last 6 months out performing the DOW and Microsoft.  Apple does make aesthetically well designed hardware true. However as software company this does show that adopting a mantra as you say, of native only is the just future, is folly.  I mean, as a OS vendor you are rather biased to say that aren't you?  After all you want to attract great developers and software to give purpose to your platform. However as a developer and as a software application company it is not as clear cut these days.  Can you say being able to switch on your new 60” Sony TV and access for all intents and purposes a native app running from the cloud or wherever is customer satisfaction I would say it has to be yes.  If you then switch on your little Nintendo DS running an ARM processor and access this and the same data yes too. This can be all done today and whether it is going to get bigger and better we will have to see… (some recent POCs have been shared with Microsoft to show this is possible from Azure)

  60. BenW says:

    Also @vierkant regarding "delivering customer satisfaction, performance, UX, taking advantage of new technology as it becomes available, customizing experience and delivering quality" as an example it is interesting to see how the Financial Times has chosen to move away from a native app and offer a new, faster, more complete app for the iPad and iPhone which is available via your browser rather than from an app store.  Described by them as "A better, faster app."  The maths would appear simple, why develop for one platform when you can develop for two for pretty much the same investment cost and there is little to stop you customizing specifically for a particular OS device, should you wish as they have done. Touch, zoom, fluid fast, no plugins, offline access and super rich content. (No I don't work for the FT). Is this the trend for the future or the exception? http://apps.ft.com/ftwebapp/

  61. ninjawarrior says:

    Apple and MS killed not only Flash but also Java applet, Silverlight, Unity Web Player and so on. The web without plug-in means it has NO COMPETITION. Do you seriously believe it's a good thing for browsers? You all must admit that HTML/CSS/JavaScript have grown quickly because they are trying to beat plug-ins. Competitors are needed!

    I think plug-in free web is something like a prison rather than a free world. No competition will bring no development and no progression. I can easily foresee it…

  62. Rajesh says:

    I have to break the bad news to you that silverlight is nothing but HTML, XAML and .NET, which are very much available when you create a XAML based app for win8

    The is no better way to learn XAML then by creating silverlight application. Have fun developing silverlight applications. http://Silverlightfun.com

  63. @benaw, webapps are indeed great (where they require plugins). I love them. Certainly, putting your content behind a "paywall" or requiring login is a no brainer for most content. However, the issue that was raised, and which I was specifically addressing was DRM. I am not sure that the FT content contains particular DRM on each and every piece of content — just payment to get into the site or webapp.

  64. sorry, where they "don't require plugins"

  65. @benaw

    "regarding "delivering customer satisfaction, performance, UX, taking advantage of new technology as it becomes available, customizing experience and delivering quality"

    I was not contrasting between this and a good HTML5 web page or webapp like FT's. The above was contrasting a native mobile app with a proprietary, ad-ridden, pop-up crazy player/environment like Flash, or Silverlight, or excessive use of plugins like ActiveX, etc. These tend to be buggy and processor-intensive and despite every effort the experience still seems to differ from device to device or platform to platform.

    BTW, the maths are pretty good for native development… make a ton of money on iOS, and then take your time putzing about with everything else because it requires more work for less reward 😉

  66. @ninjawarrior

    "Apple and MS killed not only Flash but also Java applet, Silverlight, Unity Web Player and so on. The web without plug-in means it has NO COMPETITION."

    Most web developers are happy to hear that their work can potentially be enjoyed by most people on the planet, rather than those running a particular browser or computing platform. Serious web developers know that it is all about good content, clarity, minimizing distractions and clean access to differentiated back-end services (and, increasingly, Cloud services — that's where the coders are going).

    Really, HTML development is finally happening. Flash killed the foward development of the web for years. People actaully started to think that Flash was the "real internet", imagine that! Finally that silly phase is about over. It's like a five-year old who thinks that the only "real books" are pop-up books that play a song when you turn the pages.

  67. Don Reba says:

    No plugins means no ad block, eh? I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

  68. Leonardo Avila says:

    IE9 don't work very good within my wordpress theme that I worked so hard, but my theme works in another browsers and IE8. I'm very sad with the new IE. I don't like this, cause it is a poor version.

  69. @Leonardo says:

    Just because you messed up doesn't mean IE9 is worse than IE8.

  70. @Don says:

    No ad Block ? What ad do u wanna block if there is no FlashPlayer plugin ?

  71. Steve says:

    @Rajesh re:"silverlight is nothing but HTML, XAML and .NET, which are very much available when you create a XAML based app for win8"

    Rajesh – you completely missed the point of this article.  The Metro style IE released on Windows 8 (tablets + desktop) will ***NOT SUPPORT BROWSER PLUGINS OF ANY KIND***  this means Silverlight (a Plugin) will ***NOT*** run in Metro style IE… nor will Adobe Flash, Java Applets, Active-X controls, printing addons, VPN extensions, BHO toolbars, etc.

    There are business, power, and political reasons behind this – but 9 times out of 10… if Microsoft has announced it on the IE Blog, consider it carved in stone.

    Flash is still the ubiquitous plugin for the browser in creating multimedia content and extended form controls… but it always came with the caveat that it was an addon technology that wasn't part of the native web… thus there was some uncertainty about its future as a whole… and gave rise to concern when choosing it as a platform when developing a website/app.

    When Silverlight came on the scene much later, there was even more concern.  This was a technology born from Microsoft (a known un-fair player in the browser world).  It was the underdog in a fight that had already been won by Flash… and there was always going to be a performance bias (intentional or otherwise) on IE vs. Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera etc. (if even supported).

    If you (or your company) made the mistake of choosing Silverlight as your development platform – That's your mistake… you gambled, and you lost.

    This is why smart software development engineers ensure "platform viability" before embracing a technology for their stack asking all the right questions:

    1.) What is the license? GPL, AGPL, LGPL, Apache, ???

    2.) Does this technology work natively in browsers? (e.g. SVG, Canvas)

    3.) Is this technology backed by the W3C?

    4.) Does it work in all major desktop browsers?

    5.) Does it work in all major mobile browsers?

    6.) Is the technology owned by one of the browser vendors (e.g. conflict of interest… or business competition issues)

    After asking yourself the questions you would have seen Silverlight as a major RED FLAG to your platform future… you are placing dependencies on your site/app/game that are beyond your control.  Lesson learned.  If it isn't open source, 3rd party multiplatform, and/or based on an open spec you seriously want to reconsider.

    luckily for most of us – we never even gave Silverlight a 2nd glance.

    Best of luck Rajesh.

  72. BenW says:

    @Steve the technology has to do the job too.  Some requirements may be quality of service requirements like performance, responsiveness and also cost factors such as speed of development with time to market and also total cost of ownership, so maintainability, tooling and testability are all criteria.  It easy to compare the present with a vision of the future but is it a fair comparison?

  73. Parrotlover77 says:

    I'm torn on the plug-in free browsing world.  On the one hand, I'm glad to see Flash be diminished in favor of a standard that is implemented by the browser vendors themselves.  Adobe has proven unreliable in creating a secure Flash plugin and there is little the browser vendors can do to mitigate the damage done by the third party.

    However, that said, some plug-ins are not and will never be implemented by the browser vendors.  Take password management plugins, for example.  IE may have a rudimentary autocompletion system built into it, but it will never be as robust as RoboForm or LastPass.  And the end user of those two products will suffer when browsing in Metro mode.

  74. Steve says:

    @benaw – I agree the technology has to do the job too, but only use the bits where needed… need to get a video to play? no prob… use flash… and when browser move to HTML5… then migrate that part of your code to handle HTML5 too. (no biggie)

    However if you used flash (or silverlight) to build your entire framework, forms, validation etc.  Well, well,… you failed to Architect your project from day one.  Sorry to be harsh but you intentionally built your app to only work on top of a plugin, within the browser.  You started with a dependency on flash/silverlight… if it ever went away… or a platform/browser doesn't support it (e.g. silverlight on Opera) then you've locked yourself out of a market.

    In the past 2 years tablets have taken the market by storm… iPads, PlayBooks, and every flavor of Android device has flooded the market (and MSFT intends to get there too).  The iPad doesn't support flash or silverlight. The PlayBook and Android devices support flash but certainly not Silverlight.

    If you haven't seen the writing on the wall yet, it should be totally apparent now… flash will work on many mobile/tablet devices (except Apple products)  and Silverlight is dead… it never bridged the jump to mobile (mainly because Microsoft didn't get there themselves)

    Again, good developers would never have bothered with Silverlight since day one until they'd seen full commitment to get it on all platforms/devices that support the web.  Microsoft wasn't committed thus developers should have waited before embarking on using "beta" technology for production code.

    Vendor lock-in is a huge issue in Software Development.  Smart developers avoid it like the plague… unfortunately some developers are naive and don't look at the big picture before diving in.

  75. Ben says:

    @steve @steve but seriously isn’t the web and all those laudable standards really dead and that consumers want premium native platform based app. Html can’t do the job and people don’t desire it.  (Apple just had the most profitable quarter of any technology company with a profit of $13bn on sales of a whopping $46bn and same for Samsung) People didn’t buy them for the in-built browser, wasn’t it obvious this was the way it was going? Silverlight etc was just start of it all!  For MS the underling UI technology XAML was so good it is no coincidence it has been subsumed in the new OS runtime WinRT. Apple has their own platform same for Android. For rich data business apps you can’t match the performance and ease of deployment by anything but Silverlight and that has just got better with a new version, super cool isn’t it.

    Obviously there is a last ditch attempt by the interested parties in standards to try and reconcile this but html 5 2020 is never, don’t you reckon. Some people have even attempted to offer and run html5 and js apps natively I believe LOL.

    Wow if I was a Silverlight developer I’d be laughing all the way to the bank now surely. Skills for both the consumer and business market, new version 5, cross plat form for both Mac & PC, same technology used in the new Windows 8 OS, new tablets as Apple, Phone 7 and code base compatible in Phone 8 if rumors are right.

    My aside view is MS is missing an opportunity.  It is emulating when it could be leapfrogging by not addressing rich data business apps as well as the consumer market in Metro. ‘I could imagine’ some really slick dashboards ticking over the latest real time pulse of the business but I guess they will have to be done in guess what..

  76. Steve says:

    @Ben If I was a Silverlight developer… I'd be brushing up on my HTML5 skills and getting as far away from Silverlight as I could (wouldn't want my Resume to be heavy with that info)

    The *majority* of apps these days on phones/tablets will run just fine in HTML5.  Native gives more raw power… true… cause you're basically writing in C… but who wants to do that?… especially if you need to support all your users… desktop, tablet, and phone (across many devices/vendors/brands)

    The beauty in HTML5 (just like the Web in general) is that it just works… everywhere… if you write your site/app/game properly it just works… no need to re-write or be a master in (.Net for window, Java for android & blackberry, ??? for symbian/nokia, objective-c for iOS, ???? for mac, and ??? for linux)  you just need to know HTML.

    Microsoft failed developers (even those in the MS fanboy club) with Silverlight – I'm just glad that chapter is over.

  77. @Steve says:

    Btw if you were a Silverlight developer too, perhaps you would't be so narrow-minded.

  78. Gornot says:

    Will this actually affect Tracking Protection Lists and their use within the metro interface of IE10?

    Before these TPLs viewing websites in IE was a nightmare of advertisements, pop-ups and bad javascripts. So what about the Metro experience in IE10?

  79. HTML Developer says:

    It's always obvious who is a serious programmer here and who is just swept up by the current hype and has no true experience.

    Anybody who says HTML5 "just works" or that you "write once and it works everywhere" is the latter.  All browsers are different, and even with a spec each will be implemented differently (and even with a spec, odds are that some browsers will diverge: see Microsoft, Apple vs. Google on the video spec).  Thus, HTML will always have instances where it works differently between browsers–this is something that can't be disputed because of the very nature of having different companies implement their own browser.  Bring in the real-world fact that many people need to have applications work in older browsers, and you're especially guaranteed that you're going to have to tweak your HTML to make sure you get the same experience in all browsers/versions/OSes.  Add in javascript (even with jQuery) and CSS, and you're going to spend most of your time just getting even the most simple functionality working in the full matrix.  

    This is where plugins come in as indispensable–especially on serious LOB applications where users wouldn't even want to use in a touch interface environment no matter how popular they are (Visual Studio, many true business apps, etc.).  Unlike HTML, Silverlight is a true write-once and work everywhere (PC, Mac, even Linux) in both web application form AND desktop application form (with absolutely no code changes).  

    HTML, javascript, CSS is fine for trivial applications.  But if you need to write serious LOB applications that work on anything but the smallest browser matrix, you're going to need a large team to build, test and maintain.

    Unfortunately, a lot of higher ups at Microsoft don't know this and are thinking the same as other un-informed individuals around here.  Thus the work on Silverlight has stopped.  Luckily, they've declared support for another decade, and luckily Silverlight already does more right now than HTML5 ever will–including working in IE7, etc.

    Luckily, those smart enough to use Silverlight for their applications can still support them for quite a while; in fact, SL will be supported almost as long as HTML5 will not be suitable as a true, fully available platform (2022, as dictated by the actual HTML5 authors).  But even then, odds are that development tools for html-based projects still won't be up to par with today's compiled language tools (just basing on the fact that HTML has been out for how long now and still doesn't have tools, testing, etc. anywhere close to what C#, etc. has in just the last few years).

    -A developer who spends a lot of time in HTML.

    Is it just me, or do all people named "Steve" have a really false sense of reality when it comes to plug-ins and HTML?  I've counted at least three thus far.  I'd be happy to XP pair with any of them to show them how things work at the developer's level (the level that Microsoft used to care about).

  80. Edward says:

    @HTML Developer – I am a long term Web Developer that has been building enterprise quality web apps for over a decade.  Similar to others when I started I ensured that I left my options open and used technical stacks that didn't limit me to proprietary technology that would cause lock in.

    On the server side… Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.  code that runs on ANY platform… Databases too… MySQL, PostgreSQL, or other NoSQL cloud based options.

    On the client side… HTML/JS/CSS that runs x-browser… using fallback VML via Raphael when browsers like IE don't support specs like SVG for over a decade!

    The only catch today is providing Flash fallback for IE because it doesn't support desired formats for HTML5 audio and video.

    However the idea of ever using Flash, Silverlight or any other plugin as a core dependency for applications from day one never occurred.  If our development team had made those mistakes I probably wouldn't be in companies "crushing it" in the online space today.

    Smart developers don't depend on plugins – period.

  81. Master of Desaster says:


    Smarter developer didn´t use HTML 🙂

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