Oh Microsoft… all those anti-monopoly sanctions quietly end, and you go right back on the attack. This time with Internet Explorer 10 and its Metro version which will not easily support Adobe Flash. I think I smell another anti-competition lawsuit in the making.

The No-Flash Internet Explorer 10 Scare

For those of you who are Brightcove users, uncrap your pants, there will be a version of Internet Explorer 10 that will support plug-ins, including Adobe Flash. It just won’t be the default version as the new Metro interface is set to be the default for Windows 8 and with it IE 10 Metro.

Here is the email that went out to Brightcove users recently

We wanted to make you aware of a development with Microsoft around Windows 8 that may affect your video content delivered through Brightcove Video Cloud.

Microsoft is expected to release the next version of Windows, Windows 8, on October 26th. With Windows 8, Microsoft has made a decision to limit the use of Flash as a means for delivering content and move toward a concept of a plug-in free experience in Internet Explorer 10. As a result, sites will not be allowed to serve Flash in Internet Explorer 10 unless they have been given prior approval and have been whitelisted by Microsoft.

What this means for you
The default browser experience in the new Windows UI will not allow Flash unless the site has been approved and granted access by Microsoft. Therefore, if a Brightcove Video Cloud customer is looking for a full featured playback experience that is on par with Windows 7 today, they will need to submit a request to Microsoft in order to be whitelisted.

When a site is whitelisted, all aspects of the Video Cloud player will work as it does on Windows 7, including Smart Player embeds, Flash Player embeds, Smart Player APIs, Flash-only APIs, etc.

OK, so, first off, none of you should be using a standard flash embed anymore, and shouldn’t have been for quite some time now that HTML5 is in the pipe and nearly everyone supports it on their OVP. So if you are, shame on you!

Secondly, there will be a standard version of Internet Explorer 10 that will support Flash, Silverlight and a whole slew of other plugins.

Two Versions of Internet Explorer 10

Here is an excerpt from Ars Technica from September 6th

Early users of Windows 8’s built-in Internet Explorer may find themselves at risk of exploitation via the Flash plugin, as the version included with Windows 8 is out of date. Adobe patched Flash on August 21 to resolve known security flaws, but the patch can’t be applied to Internet Explorer 10.

Internet Explorer 10 bundles Adobe Flash, with Microsoft taking on responsibility for shipping updates to the integrated plugin. One repercussion of this arrangement is that Adobe’s patches and autoupdate mechanism can’t be used; they can update the standalone version used by Firefox, but not the embedded version in Internet Explorer. The same is true of Chrome; it includes an embedded version of Flash, and the only way to update that is with a Chrome update. Adobe’s updater can’t touch it.

What really makes me scratch my head is… what the hell is Microsoft doing?! Oh I get it, they are too lazy to have a dedicated team to patch the bundled Flash and so are trying to push everyone into the Metro UI so they don’t have to worry about it as much.

They did just, ironically, do a massive update to it yesterday:

Today we released an update that addresses vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8. The majority of customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because the update will be downloaded and installed automatically. For those manually updating, we encourage you to apply this update as quickly as possible.

This update addresses the vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player by updating the affected Adobe Flash binaries contained within Internet Explorer 10. For more information, see the advisory.

All of this has drawn the ire of some developers who have some very non-flattering things to say about MS on the IEBlog:

If flash would run properly in metro IE 10 then this would be an issue. However since Microsoft added the flash censorship list we can’t even submit our content for approval yet.

Some, though, are on the side of MS on this one:

In a year, flash content will be even more dead then it is now.

Big Brother is Censoring Content for Your Own Good

The problem is really that MS is making IE 10 Metro the default, with its Flash censorship implementation, instead of actually giving users a choice. If there’s not a user option at install/setup, I can see it being part of another anti-competition lawsuit. It should be a class action lawsuit including every Flash-based site on the web. After all, Microsoft is putting you all through its own nebulous, currently, non-existent approval process which unnecessarily complicates things.

Who is Microsoft to dictate on what sites we, the end-users, can view Flash? To me, this is akin to Big Brother telling me what I can and cannot do and see. Why are they deciding it all? If I have a tablet and want to view a video in a flash player, why should they give a crap? They say that it is in the best interest of the users because of battery life issues. Do they think we don’t know that videos sucks down the battery life? They seem to believe that we do not know how to operate our own equipment in fact.

If they are going to include Flash support, then include it. If they don’t want to, like iOS and Android, then don’t and we will all go use other browsers or find other ways around it. Don’t do this half-ass censorship  bull and appoint yourself the gatekeeper. You’re not the Flash police?

But this all is a moot point to us savvy online video content publishers, right? We’re all on board with the HTML5 deal already…unless you need DRM, or text tracks, or adaptive streaming…or DRM…oh wait.

So basically Microsoft is saying that if you need to secure your content with DRM, tell people not to use Internet Explorer 10, or something like that. At least don’t use IE 10 Metro, until they set up the vetting process for whitelisting sites and then catch up on what is sure to become a massive backlog.