Microsoft on Flash: What Steve Said

Published on April 30, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Evidently, Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs isn’t alone in his low opinion of Flash. Looks like Microsoft’s (MSFT) not a particularly big fan of the Adobe (ADBE) technology, either. Writing in the company’s IEBlog, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer arm, weighs in on the Flash debate echoing some of the arguments put forth by Jobs in his much discussed “Thoughts of Flash” essay.

“The future of the web is HTML5,” Hachamovitch says. “Microsoft is deeply engaged in the HTML5 process with the W3C. HTML5 will be very important in advancing rich, interactive Web applications and site design. The HTML5 specification describes video support without specifying a particular video format. We think H.264 is an excellent format. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only.”

So Microsoft, like Apple, is casting its lot with HTML5, and largely for the same reasons. That said, it’s not abandoning Flash entirely. Not yet, anyway.

“Today, video on the Web is predominantly Flash-based,” Hachamovitch writes. “While video may be available in other formats, the ease of accessing video using just a browser on a particular Web site without using Flash is a challenge for typical consumers. Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance. … Despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s Web.”

In other words, Flash is important today, not because of its strength as a platform or its “ reliability, security, and performance,” but because the average Web user is accustomed to it. Which is a more diplomatic way of saying exactly what Jobs said yesterday:

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short. … New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too)

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