Microsoft announced that the Metro version of the Internet Explorer 10 browser in Windows 8 will be plug-in free. The desktop version will still support plug-ins but the news is likely another nail in the coffin of Flash as most web developers will want to make sure that their sites run on all platforms. More details at Building Windows 8.
Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.
The reality today is that sites are already rapidly engineering for a plug-in free experience. Google, for example, recently launched their HTML5 YouTube site for phones. A previous IE blog post discussed how plug-in free sites are becoming more mainstream, and what sites can do to run plug-in free. We examined the use of plug-ins across the top 97,000 sites world-wide, a corpus which includes local sites outside the US in significant depth. Many of the 62% of these sites that currently use Adobe Flash already fall back to HTML5 video in the absence of plug-in support. When serving ads in the absence of plug-ins, most sites already perform the equivalent of this fallback, showing that this approach is practical and scalable. There’s a steep drop-off in plug-in usage after Flash, with one control used on 2% of sites and a small collection of controls used on between 0.5% and 0.75% of sites.