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New version of Internet Explorer brings Flash to Windows 8, RT

In what appears to be a change of heart toward Adobe’s Flash player, Microsoft has released a new version of its Internet Explorer web browser for Windows 8 and RT that supports the plug-in.

During the development stages of Windows 8 and RT, Microsoft chose to avoid the plug-in route for versions of its web browser running on those operating systems because it wasn’t consistent with the user experience the company wanted to convey with the new OSes.

“For the Web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free,” Dean Hachamovtich, leader of the Internet Explorer team wrote on a company blog in 2011.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web.”.

Microsoft had different sentiments about plug-ins this week when it announced its Flash support for IE 10.

“As we have seen through testing over the past several months, the vast majority of sites with Flash content are now compatible with the Windows experience for touch, performance, and battery life,” Microsoft Internet Explorer Group Program Manager Rob Mauceri wrote in a company blog Monday.

According to Mauceri, Microsoft has been working with Adobe to optimize the Flash experience with Windows 8, and it now feels confident that Flash won’t—for the most part—detract from a user’s experience with the OS.

He noted that there are still a few sites that will be blocked because they’re incompatible with the Windows 8 experience or contain plug-ins that don’t work with the OS.

With expanded Flash support, it’s apparent that Microsoft is tying to polish Windows 8’s image and make it more attractive to users, who haven’t exactly embraced the new OS with open arms.

“We believe having more sites ‘just work’ in IE10 improves the experience for consumers, businesses, and developers,” Mauceri wrote.

“As a practical matter,” he continued, “the primary device you walk around with should give you access to all the Web content on the 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 continue to work together closely to deliver a Flash Player optimized for the Windows experience,” he added.

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