March 11, 2013, 6:20 PM — Microsoft will update the Internet Explorer 10 version built for its Windows 8 and Windows RT "modern" tile-based interface to run Flash content by default, reversing course on its original decision around this issue.
The company has determined after months of testing that most sites with Flash content are compatible with the new tile-based interface of Windows 8 designed for touchscreens, as well as with the new operating system's performance and battery life features.
For the estimated fewer than 4 percent of sites that are incompatible with this Windows 8 touch "experience" or that depend on other plug-ins, Flash content will be blocked according to a list maintained by Microsoft. Until now, IE10 for Windows 8 and Windows RT's modern interface has run Flash only on sites handpicked by Microsoft.
Flash content already ran by default on IE 10 for the "desktop" interface in Windows 8, which is designed to resemble the traditional Windows 7 and Windows XP look and feel.
"We believe having more sites 'just work' in IE10 improves the experience for consumers, businesses, and developers. As a practical matter, the primary device you walk around with should give you access to all the Web content on the sites you rely on. Otherwise, the device is just a companion to a PC," wrote Rob Mauceri, group program manager of Internet Explorer, in a blog post on Monday.
Microsoft is pointing developers to this document, where they can find technical details about the criteria the vendor uses to block Flash content on certain sites, and what they can do to make them compatible.
"The documentation also includes a best-practices guide to help developers, designers, and content publishers create experiences with Flash that play well in IE for touch, responsiveness, and battery life. These best practices complement existing recommendations and tools such as modern.IE for authoring touch-friendly HTML5 sites. Also, starting tomorrow, modern.IE enables testing whether or not your site is on the curated Flash CV block list," Mauceri wrote.
Apple has so far resisted supporting Flash on its iOS devices out of concern about performance and user experience.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.