File Under: Browsers

Internet Explorer 10 Metro: Now With Adobe Flash

The latest Internet Explorer 10 is available as part of the Windows 8 Release Preview.

This release marks the sixth IE10 Platform Preview and there’s no doubt that the big news is the integrated Flash Player, something Microsoft originally planned to leave out of the tablet-friendly Metro version of IE10. Now the company has changed its mind about Flash. Dean Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer VP, writes on the The IEBlog:

We believe that having more sites “just work” in the Metro style browser improves the experience for consumers and businesses alike. As a practical matter, the primary device you walk around with should play the web content on sites you rely on. Otherwise, the device is just a companion to a PC. Because some popular web sites require Adobe Flash and do not offer HTML5 alternatives, Adobe and Microsoft worked together closely to deliver a Flash Player suitable for the Metro style experience.

Hachamovitch also notes that Microsoft worked directly with Adobe to optimize an embedded version of Flash for the Metro interface. That means not only is it reportedly less battery-hungry, but the Flash player in IE10 Metro supports touch gestures like double-tap and pinch-to-zoom so the Flash experience will be consistent with everything else in Windows 8′s tablet interface.

While IE10 Metro will indeed support Flash, developers shouldn’t expect Flash to work everywhere. Instead, Metro IE10′s Flash support is more of a last-ditch effort to make sure that big-name legacy sites with popular content will work on any future Windows 8 tablets. “While any site can play Flash content in IE10 on the Windows desktop,” writes Hachamovitch, “only sites that are on the Compatibility View list can play Flash content within Metro style IE.”

In other words, don’t start building web-based Flash games and expect them to run on Windows 8 tablets.

Flash isn’t the only new trick up IE10′s sleeve; in fact, in the long run the far bigger change may be Microsoft’s support for the “Do Not Track” header, a user privacy tool originally created by Mozilla that is in the process of becoming a web standard. Not only does IE10 send the Do Not Track header, but Microsoft has turned it on by default.

While Safari, Firefox and Opera also support Do Not Track, all of them leave it to users to turn on the feature. Google has pledged to support Do Not Track in Chrome, but thus far does not.

Turning Do Not Track on by default helps protect users’ privacy, but it also makes for a rather direct attack on one of Microsoft’s chief rivals — Google. Wired’s Threat Level blog has more on what the Do Not Track features may mean for the future of online advertising.

Web developers take note, the latest version of IE10 adds support for non-vendor prefixed versions of standards that have reached W3C’s Candidate Recommendation stage. That means IE10 will support CSS transitions, transforms, animations, gradients, and the font-feature-settings property without the -ms- prefix. (The prefixed versions will continue to be supported as well.)

There’s quite a few other new features in the sixth preview of IE10, including performance enhancements that Microsoft claims will make IE10 “fast and fluid while panning, zooming, and scaling content” through a touch interface. You can test out the company’s Chalkboard demo, a panning, zooming, content-scaling stress test for browsers. Without a Windows 8 tablet to test on, it’s impossible to tell just how fast IE10 will be in real-world browsing on an actual tablet, but you can get some idea of what the experience might be like in the Microsoft video below. For more details on other new features in IE10, be sure to check out the IEBlog announcement.

Windows 8. Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft has released a new preview of Internet Explorer 10, a major upgrade to the company’s flagship web browser. As was rumored, the latest IE10 preview includes a fully integrated, touch-optimized version of Adobe’s Flash Player.