File Under: Browsers

Microsoft Reverses Windows 8 Flash Ban

Windows 8. Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft has, yet again, changed its policy regarding Flash on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Starting today Microsoft is ditching the whitelist, allowing Flash in IE10 to run by default on almost any site that needs it.

Previously Microsoft had announced that Windows 8′s Metro mode would not support Flash. By the time Windows 8 actually launched that had changed to allow Flash to run on websites that Microsoft had formally whitelisted. Flash always ran unfettered in IE10 when using Windows 8′s desktop mode.

Now Microsoft is reversing the whitelist, blacklisting “the small number of sites that are still incompatible with the Windows experience for touch or that depend on other plug-ins.” According to the IEBlog that’s fewer than 4 percent of sites using Flash.

According to web survey company W3Techs, around 20 percent of all websites still use Flash in some fashion. The HTTPArchive puts that number somewhat higher at 35 percent in general, but 42 percent for the top 1,000 sites on the web. Unfortunately neither of those sources track whether or not Flash is an integral part of the sites that use it, or just used in advertisements on the site.

Whatever the case, despite the fact that the number of sites using Flash is declining, it’s clearly still a big part of the web.

Whitelisting every site on a site-by-site basis was cumbersome at best and often frustrating since sites that might have worked just fine could not simply because they had not made the list. Today’s change of heart for IE10 eliminates that problem and makes Windows 8 a bit more consistent, offering nearly the same Flash experience whether you’re in desktop or Metro mode.