Microsoft to turn on Flash by default in Windows 8

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 11, 2013
Internet Explorer

One of the new features of Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 is that Microsoft integrated Adobe's Flash Player natively into the start screen version of the web browser. This native integration, much like Google does when it comes to the company's Chrome browser enabled Microsoft to integrate Flash in a way that it is technical no longer a plugin that needs to be loaded from external sources. By doing so, Microsoft bypassed the operating system's limitation on the start screen that would prevent the Flash plugin from being loaded otherwise.

The company made the decision to limit Flash contents to a list of whitelisted websites. If the site was on the list, Flash would run just fine, if the site was not on it, Flash would not be loaded. It was not really difficult to edit the site list and many users did so that used the app version of Internet Explorer 10.

Today Microsoft announced that it made the decision to change that behavior in Windows 8. Instead of using a whitelist approach, Microsoft from tomorrow's patch day on will use a blacklist approach instead. This means that Internet Explorer 10 will support Flash on all websites except for those that are on Microsoft's compatibility view list.

Windows 8 Windows RT
Immersive IE Enabled unless on CV list Enabled unless on CV list
Desktop IE Enabled for all sites Enabled unless on CV list

It needs to be noted that this affects only Flash in the app version of Internet Explorer 10, and not Flash on the desktop in Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. That version of Flash still needs to be installed separately and will run on all sites automatically.

Microsoft notes that the update will be made available via Windows Update tomorrow with this month's Patch Tuesday.

You are probably wondering why Microsoft made the decision to make a 180° degree turn in regards to Flash in Windows 8. The reason that Microsoft provides us with is that it has tested thousands of sites and discovered that only a small fraction of sites are not compatible with the Windows experience goals.

If you are asking me, it may have just realized that limiting Flash contents in IE10 is too limiting for users of the operating system. If your favorite sites do not work because of that, it is likely that users will blame Microsoft in the end and switch browsers if they can. On Windows RT though, they can't.


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  1. rvdmast said on March 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    On your statement that for the desktop-version of IE “Flash still needs to be installed separately” i have to disagree. We’re testing Windows 8 in our network and i noticed that on a plain Windows 8 installation (64-bit) without any software installed yet, Flash works out of the box in the desktop-version of IE. In the Add-on manager the Flash ActiveX is listed under “Third-party Microsoft add-ons” (Adobe) and active by default.
    Only for other browsers such as Firefox, the plugin-version of Flash needs to be installed.

  2. Ramesh Khanna said on March 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Is there a keyboard shortcut to relaunch IE in app mode? ( There are a lot of of keyboard shortcuts in both IE and Chrome not necessarily on the keyboard shortcuts pages of the browsers, but most seem to be the same in both so you can use keyboard shortcuts of one for the other.)

  3. Ramesh Khanna said on March 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I have never encountered the app version of IE. IE was installed with Windows but the desktop version only and clicking on the IE tile in the start page starts the desktop version. Same with Chrome except that the menu has an entry “Relaunch in Windows 8 mode”. I am not really interested running either in app mode. Today IE is working properly — yesterday it wasn’t. These changes in behaviour in W8 are irritating and makes me wonder whether the OS will keep on working. I only am letting you know because my windows 8 installation seems to be different from what you have described in previous posts.

  4. ilev said on March 12, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Hacker rejoice.

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