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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59 Comments

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Breach said,
Does this mean they are dropping support for Java applets in IE 10?

Metro IE10, yes. Desktop IE10, no.
NO plugins in Metro.
it's the new way.

calimike said,
Chrome 16 scored 359/13 bonus. Firefox 4 scored 256/9bonus. Firefox 10 scored 317/9 bonus. IE9 did 151/5 bonus.

Incorrect, something's wrong on your end. Chrome 16=374/13 Firefox 10 Scored=332/9 two points higher than previous FF 9 IE 9 Scored = 141/5 Don't Know about FF4.

recursive said,
I loled at mkay . Funny I just happened to watch Office Space earlier today

Office Space... more like South Park...

Mr Mackey: Drugs are bad, mkay...

rfirth said,

Office Space... more like South Park...

Mr Mackey: Drugs are bad, mkay...

So if you could just get to that asap, that would be terrific, mkay?

So far it looks like the Windows 8 experience is one where you'll constantly end up switching between Metro and Desktop.

.Neo said,
So far it looks like the Windows 8 experience is one where you'll constantly end up switching between Metro and Desktop.

yeah, but after this transitional period, Windows on a whole will definitely be ahead of the competition.

FalseAgent said,

yeah, but after this transitional period, Windows on a whole will definitely be ahead of the competition.

In competition you mean XP ? :-)
I don't see Windows 8 passing XP's market share.

alexalex said,

In competition you mean XP ? :-)
I don't see Windows 8 passing XP's market share.

Then you're quite foolish. XP share is declining and every Windows version is a practically guaranteed success due to the fact that it will come preinstalled on every new Windows-based PC. Unless the world as a whole dislikes the Metro UI, there doesn't seem to be a huge uproar about it on the Xbox, Windows 8 will definitely surpass XP marketshare and probably get pretty close to Windows 7.

wixostrix said,
every Windows version is a practically guaranteed success due to the fact that it will come preinstalled on every new Windows-based PC.

Sure, Vista really proved that… /s

MFH said,

Sure, Vista really proved that… /s

I said practically guarantee and unless the world as a whole rejects it. The majority of tech industry reject Vista, and consumers were quite indifferent about it. However, from Microsoft's point of view, Vista was a sales success.

.Neo said,
So far it looks like the Windows 8 experience is one where you'll constantly end up switching between Metro and Desktop.

I agree, and this is one issue that concerns me. I love the Metro experience, and I enjoy how it is consistent with both Windows Phone and the Xbox Dashboard; however, I'm sure I will not enjoy having to switch to the Desktop so frequently, as it will ruin that consistent experience.

As a developer and designer, I'll be using apps like Photoshop and Visual Studio frequently, and due to how complex they are, there may not be any Metro versions of those on the horizon (we will have to wait and see).

I understand that Microsoft haven't been able to ensure that isn't an issue, though.

Most "average users" may be able to stay in the Immersive experience pretty much all of the time because I imagine developers of the apps they use daily (web browsers, music streaming players etc) will develop Metro versions either in time for Windows 8's release or soon after (again, we will have to wait and see).

The big issue, for me, will be regarding Microsoft Office. If Microsoft release Metro versions of each Office app with all of the features people tend to use daily, this year, I will be happy. But if Microsoft don't offer a Metro version of Office in time for or soon after Windows 8's release, I will be much more influenced to switch to Apple products and see whether I enjoy the consistent experience they have to offer.

FalseAgent said,

yeah, but after this transitional period, Windows on a whole will definitely be ahead of the competition.

Naturally because the competition will sit on their asses and do nothing in the meantime... /s

Get real.

Callum said,

I agree, and this is one issue that concerns me. I love the Metro experience, and I enjoy how it is consistent with both Windows Phone and the Xbox Dashboard; however, I'm sure I will not enjoy having to switch to the Desktop so frequently, as it will ruin that consistent experience.

[...]

The big issue, for me, will be regarding Microsoft Office. If Microsoft release Metro versions of each Office app with all of the features people tend to use daily, this year, I will be happy. But if Microsoft don't offer a Metro version of Office in time for or soon after Windows 8's release, I will be much more influenced to switch to Apple products and see whether I enjoy the consistent experience they have to offer.


I'm extremely interested to see if Microsoft will do things right for a change and make sure Windows 8 is launched when it's ready. Not where you end up having a situation where most of Microsoft's own apps still aren't fully Metro compatible (Office for example). Personally I don't care for Metro on the desktop (love it on a phone though) but that's besides the point. If Microsoft wants to go with something radically different that's fine. However, they better be prepared to go all the way instead of having a situation where you constantly end up using both interface environments for years to come.

Edited by .Neo, Feb 1 2012, 12:25pm :

MFH said,
Sure, Vista really proved that… /s

15% of the world's PC market is about 200m machines and 3x more than all other competitors, combined.

.Neo said,
So far it looks like the Windows 8 experience is one where you'll constantly end up switching between Metro and Desktop.

Well the Desktop is an app according to Microsoft and the only cases I've read that may have people going back and forth is if a site has require plug-ins that are integral to the site and when people want to use productivity software like Word and Photoshop.

At first I thought the switching back and forth would be cumbersome, but if you really think about it, it wont make the experiences all the different.

Callum said,

I agree, and this is one issue that concerns me. I love the Metro experience, and I enjoy how it is consistent with both Windows Phone and the Xbox Dashboard; however, I'm sure I will not enjoy having to switch to the Desktop so frequently, as it will ruin that consistent experience.

As a developer and designer, I'll be using apps like Photoshop and Visual Studio frequently, and due to how complex they are, there may not be any Metro versions of those on the horizon (we will have to wait and see).

I understand that Microsoft haven't been able to ensure that isn't an issue, though.

Most "average users" may be able to stay in the Immersive experience pretty much all of the time because I imagine developers of the apps they use daily (web browsers, music streaming players etc) will develop Metro versions either in time for Windows 8's release or soon after (again, we will have to wait and see).

The big issue, for me, will be regarding Microsoft Office. If Microsoft release Metro versions of each Office app with all of the features people tend to use daily, this year, I will be happy. But if Microsoft don't offer a Metro version of Office in time for or soon after Windows 8's release, I will be much more influenced to switch to Apple products and see whether I enjoy the consistent experience they have to offer.

Traditional applications (including Office 2010 and Visual Studio) work just fine in Metro/Immersive - I have, in fact, been using both in my WDP installation (bare-metal/dual-boot). Why wouldn't a traditional application work in Immersive? So far, the only daily-usage application that anyone has complained about NOT working in Immersive was Skype - and that was rather easily fixable. (I never had the issue with Skype.) In short, Office 2010 is not an issue with Immersive - not even a little. Ninety-percent-plus of the issues that folks are having with Immersive on hardware OTHER than tablets or slates are user-related - in other words, personal preference. Not application failure.

.Neo said,
So far it looks like the Windows 8 experience is one where you'll constantly end up switching between Metro and Desktop.

not sure what you mean. I dont' think anybody using a tablet will have to go to the desktop for any reason other than because they want to and vice versa.

Having to make developers put specific IE10 code in their website to make plug-ins work reminds me of developers needing to put specific code in their website to make IE6 work

Scorpus said,
Having to make developers put specific IE10 code in their website to make plug-ins work reminds me of developers needing to put specific code in their website to make IE6 work

It isn't code to make plugin work, it's code that displays the option to open the page in desktop IE.

Scorpus said,
Having to make developers put specific IE10 code in their website to make plug-ins work reminds me of developers needing to put specific code in their website to make IE6 work

Do you know what a meta tag is?
By definition, a meta tag is made for additional information about a webpage and must be ignored if the browser doesn't understand it.

That'd be like saying the iPhone browser is bad because you have to add an apple-touch-icon meta to display an icon in the iOS app screen when pinned.

Scorpus said,
Having to make developers put specific IE10 code in their website to make plug-ins work reminds me of developers needing to put specific code in their website to make IE6 work

Plug-ins are, to put it bluntly, a security nightmare. However, it is far easier to code a NEW browser sans plug-ins than one where backward-compatibility is a must - hence MetroIE rejecting plug-ins, including ActiveX controls, entirely. (Remember, Metro IE10, unlike desktop IE10, doesn't HAVE a *compatibility mode*.) Metro IE10 won't be the only version of IE - not even on tablets and slates - or any platform where Immersive is the chosen default - not even on ARM. From a security standpoint, this is actually the smartest (and most sensible) thing Microsoft could have done.

Scorpus said,
Having to make developers put specific IE10 code in their website to make plug-ins work reminds me of developers needing to put specific code in their website to make IE6 work

Developers have been making these changes for a while to make content accessible on mobile devices. It's the right way to work with this content going forward, though.

mdtaUK said,
Until all this HTML 5 video offers a full screen video option, the flash will normally win out!

You can do it with Javascript, which is the point of delivering with HTML.

Jose_49 said,

You can do it with Javascript, which is the point of delivering with HTML.

As far as I was aware, you can't do it with JavaScript as a security measure to stop someone from tricking you into entering your password with a full screen popup. The HTML5 video tag however can provide it's own "view full screen" button, so as to show videos in full screen. So full screen video is possible, but it's up to the browser developers to implement it, if they haven't already.

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

well actually it does when you take a still screenshot of it. 75% of metro aesthetic are subtle animations, which really look fluid and great. MS also said on BUILD that metro without animation is crap

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

Your not alone I'm quite actually laughing that people is fascinated over this. Metro = Windows 3.1 scheme but only with updated icons and instead of the default gray it's black.

Totalaero said,

Your not alone I'm quite actually laughing that people is fascinated over this. Metro = Windows 3.1 scheme but only with updated icons and instead of the default gray it's black.

Functionality is more important than looks, in my opinion. Metro is designed to get you to where you're going - not show you pretty 512x512 icons and gradients and fancy glossy BS. I think Metro looks great - it's bold and simple. You should probably try it before you judge it.

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

95%+ of the time, you see no interface AT ALL in IE10-Metro, it's just the webpage. How does that "look like cr@p"?

TCLN Ryster said,

95%+ of the time, you see no interface AT ALL in IE10-Metro, it's just the webpage. How does that "look like cr@p"?

He was talking about Metro, not IE10…

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

I been thinking the same since i first saw a Windows Phone, and still crying for how ugly metro style looks on Windows Desktop!

For a tablet could be OK, but not for the desktop!

Also i don't care if IE10 doesn't support plugins, i will be using still Chrome by that time.

Totalaero said,

Your not alone I'm quite actually laughing that people is fascinated over this. Metro = Windows 3.1 scheme but only with updated icons and instead of the default gray it's black.

Yes, it does look like windows 3.0/3.1, but what else would work better on a tablet device? Icons that you can place wherever you want? Well, that's already being done..

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

Its a style. Everyone has there own tastes. Metro is clean and the focus is suppose to be on information or content. Not the icon or UI. Even if you ignore that. What do you really want. Chrome? Do you want it to have lots of blinking lights, gradients that try to make it look shiny? Rounded edges to make it look round? How would you prefer your TV in your living room. A TV with no bezel and a display that goes edge to edge, square, non-reflective. Or would you prefer a large chrome bezel, reflective screen, and rounded corners? All of that stuff I mentioned makes it hard to focus and read what is important. The content. Not the container the content is in.

smooth_criminal1990 said,

This again, really?

some of us think metro is oversimplified and looks bad, why is that so hard to believe? changing the UI theme / look isnt "progress" it's just a look and feel, Win8 has made some great progress in the desktop areas with new API's better workflows with files, etc.... but a bunch of simple squres and circles and minimal color just feels stale and dated to the 1980's.... animations ooh yay I can watch half a second of a tile flip or a screen scrolling...... animations don't make a good OS

webeagle12 said,
Are I'm only one who thinks the "metro style" looks like cr@p. Looks like something kindergartener would design.

it's so fluid and clean that once you use it, everything else looks like it was designed by an adult with ADD.

Totalaero said,

Your not alone I'm quite actually laughing that people is fascinated over this. Metro = Windows 3.1 scheme but only with updated icons and instead of the default gray it's black.
Apple gets a huge pat on the back for going simplistic with iOS. Microsoft goes even more simplistic with Metro, and you think it sucks?

alpha2beta said,
Lets hope this means tool bars are dead too.

Well as there is no toolbar in IE10-Metro, where would they even go? ;-)

Come on Microsoft, keep bragging about IE9 HTML 5 support, you only brag a fish test, but don't state all the default and basic features (such as different inputs) that are not present in the Tech. Preview.

Yes, IE has lots and lots of cool features, that I would love to manipulate them, but if basics, which are covered by Chrome and Opera are still not applied, what's the point then bragging as the best HTML5 browser out there? (At least that's what I assume)

Internet Explorer 10 scores 306 on html5test.com. ie9 scored 141.

The latest chrome scores 373. opera 344, and firefox 330.

So they are making pretty good progress.

/- Razorfold said,
Internet Explorer 10 scores 306 on html5test.com. ie9 scored 141.

The latest chrome scores 373. opera 344, and firefox 330.

So they are making pretty good progress.


Actually I agree. But they need to focus more in bringing the support. I'm sorry for bashing MS all the way, but I usually feel *****ed off when a complete script needs to be rewritten because of Internet Explorer.

Jose_49 said,

Actually I agree. But they need to focus more in bringing the support. I'm sorry for bashing MS all the way, but I usually feel *****ed off when a complete script needs to be rewritten because of Internet Explorer.

Maybe you should learn how to code. I design websites allot and I've just dropped the support for anything older then IE8 as I do not design websites for cooperate usage, people running older get the suggestion to update their frigging system.

But the only thing that looks different on IE8 is that it has no rounded corners. besides that my sites look exactly the same on IE9, latest FF, chrome/safari and Opera. Without using any browser specific scripts.
Not Microsofts fault people don't know how to design a website
According to html5test.com for example, it shows my IE9 is missing allot of features i constantly use, yet they work PROPERLY.

/- Razorfold said,
Internet Explorer 10 scores 306 on html5test.com. ie9 scored 141.

The latest chrome scores 373. opera 344, and firefox 330.

So they are making pretty good progress.

who cares at this point. it is fast enough. it is like those FPS game tests where people brag about 400 fps when their monitor is 120hz.

what IE needs to address at this point is power features. copy everything chrome and FF have done and open an exenstion model for devs.

neonspark said,

who cares at this point. it is fast enough. it is like those FPS game tests where people brag about 400 fps when their monitor is 120hz.

what IE needs to address at this point is power features. copy everything chrome and FF have done and open an exenstion model for devs.

HTML5Test is about feature compliance, not speed. Your argument is irrelevant.

Shadowzz said,

Maybe you should learn how to code. I design websites allot and I've just dropped the support for anything older then IE8 as I do not design websites for cooperate usage, people running older get the suggestion to update their frigging system.

But the only thing that looks different on IE8 is that it has no rounded corners. besides that my sites look exactly the same on IE9, latest FF, chrome/safari and Opera. Without using any browser specific scripts.
Not Microsofts fault people don't know how to design a website
According to html5test.com for example, it shows my IE9 is missing allot of features i constantly use, yet they work PROPERLY.


I'm not talking only about HTML and CSS, but JavaScript.
HTML is displayed only with minor issues in IE. CSS isn't too chaotic. But the same can't be said of JavaScript.

I tried doing a full javascript-only image gallery, and it was like hell doing some try and catch statements plus some events. It took ages but finally did it because I did it without a JS framework, such as jQuery, which is cross-browser compliant.