Microsoft: Web plug-ins are bad, mkay?

In September, Microsoft announced that the Metro version of the Internet Explorer 10 web browser, to be released alongside Windows 8, would not support any plug-in programs in favor of HTML5-based programs. Today, in a new Microsoft blog post, the company repeated that news but also offered web site designers a way to transition their sites when the Metro version of IE10 is used by their visitors.

If a web site still requires some some of plug-in program in order to be viewed or used, web site developers can insert either an special HTTP header or meta tag that will tell Metro IE10 users to switch to IE10 for the regular Windows desktop. That version will still support plug-ins like Adobe Flash. You can see that message in the image above.

Even though Microsoft is giving web designers an easy way for Metro IE10 users to view the site using the desktop browser, the company would still prefer that web sites simply ditch plug-ins entirely. As John Hrvatin, Internet Explorer's Program Manager Lead, writes:

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.

While the HTTP header and meta tag are being offered, Hrvatin adds:

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.

Image via Microsoft

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