Harking back to the Build 2011 Conference and the Windows 8 preview, we heard the news that IE 10 Metro style browsing comes with the mixed blessing of plug-in-free HTML5 support. That’s right, Metro IE 10 is completely free of plug-ins, this is an HTML5-only environment, that means no Adobe Flash, Shockwave and other ‘legacy’ plug-ins such as Microsoft’s own Activex and Silverlight technology.
Activex we can’t wait to ditch, unless MS finds a way to include Silverlight as an embedded component, that’s a lot of grumbling developers they have to pacify.
Adobe’s response to the Microsoft ‘plug-in’s free’ announcement was basically a puff piece saying “it’s ok, I’m fine, I’m fine, nothing’s broken…’ in the manner of a cyclist who’s just been run down by a bus, dusting themselves off whilst ignoring the broken limbs.
According to the company, the decision was made after surveying 97,000 internet sites worldwide and finding that of the 62% using Flash, ‘most’ defaulted to HTML 5, while usage of other plug-ins negligible. I hope that summary of results is credible, there’s a lot going on in that one statistic.
Jobs Was Right
There’s a headline! Echoing Steve Jobs’s viewpoint from last year, Microsoft said that ‘browser plug-ins are an archaic way to add functionality, and open standards like HTML5 and CSS3 are the way to go.’
As side-benefits, Microsoft also claims the new, touch-interface IE 10 will run faster, lengthen battery life and provide improved security and privacy.
Steven Sinfosky’s summary of the issue from the Windows 8 blog states:
“The HTML5 and script engines are identical and you can easily switch between the different frame windows if you’d like. Metro style IE provides all the main navigation keyboard shortcuts and mouse support you’ve come to expect – creating tabs, moving between tabs, closing tabs, entering addresses, searching, and more. I’m using this browser full-time, and given the amount of time I spend in Windows Phone, the same experience and use of touch is definitely a plus. But you can decide on what works best for you, and not compromise.”
Switch to the desktop version of IE 10, however, and you need to load all the legacy Windows 7 desktop and browser code with the associated rise in battery consumption and so on. The question is how long it will take for the web to go HTML5 and ditch Flash, Silverlight and Activex so that you don’t have to? How long will we be bouncing between two dramatically different versions of browser interface? AJS