You'll still be able to view content requiring plug-ins in Windows 8, but you'll have to switch to the old fashioned Windows desktop to see it. Users who prefer to remain in the touch-centric, Metro-style interface, however, will have a plug-in free (and presumably Flash-free) experience. Instead, the new touch-centric IE 10 will rely on HTML5 technologies for online video and other functions.
"For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free," said Dean Hachamovtich, who leads Microsoft's Internet Explorer team. "The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web."
The good news is that thanks to Apple's anti-Flash trailblazing with the iPhone and iPad, many websites now offer HTML5 video when the Flash plug-in is not present. YouTube, for example, will still run without Flash as will many other video sites.
Why the Shift?
Microsoft said it examined the plug-in requirements for the top 97,000 sites worldwide and discovered that 62% can already offer HTML5 video to non-Flash devices. Many of these sites can also serve non-Flash ads as well.
If you visit a site that still relies on ActiveX controls or other plug-in content, you will be prompted to tap a "Use Desktop View" notification. This will take you to the traditional desktop where you can view the content requiring a plug-in.
What Microsoft didn't mention is where this leaves the company's own Flash competitor, Silverlight. Will Silverlight compatibility be built into the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 or is Silverlight on the Web gone too? The technology still has a life as a tool for developers, so Silverlight on the Web may not be a big loss for the Windows maker. Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing.
What About Add-Ons?