Microsoft clarifies position on IE9 Flash support

Microsoft has clarified its stance on supporting Flash in Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), explaining that it will continue to offer support for the software as a plug-in, as it has always done.

IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch said in a blog post last week that "the future of the web is HTML5", and many assumed that Microsoft was dropping Flash support in the browser.

However, the company has since noted that it had never natively supported Flash in IE9, but instead had done so through plug-ins. Hachamovitch published a follow-up blog post on Monday addressing numerous comments including those seeking reassurance over Microsoft's position on Flash.

"Several comments asked about Microsoft's support for plug-ins (like Flash and Silverlight). Of course, IE9 will continue to support Flash and other plug-ins. Plug-ins are important for delivering innovation and functionality ahead of standards," he explained.

Hachamovitch also explained that IE9 will offer support for a range of other plug-ins, as well as Flash.

"For web browsers, developers can continue to offer plug-ins (using NPAPI or ActiveX) so that web pages can play video using these codecs on Windows. For example, web pages will still play VC-1 (Microsoft WMV) files in IE9," he said.

However, Hachamovitch added that uncertainty in the industry over web standards for video meant that Microsoft will stick with its plan to deliver video through HTML5.

"The biggest obstacle to supporting more than H.264 is the uncertainty. When there's industry consensus and confidence that the uncertainties are resolved, we'll be open to considering other codecs," he said.

"H.264 video offers a more certain path than other video formats, and does so in a way that delivers a great HTML5 experience for developers and end-users. We think it is the best available video codec today for HTML5 for our customers."

Microsoft's refusal to support Flash as a native element of its browser will still be a sore point for Adobe as it tries to stamp its authority on the web video market.

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