Microsoft’s Windows leader Steven Sinofsky picked an interview this week to reveal that Windows 8 on ARM wouldn’t support plugins. He explained to AllThingsD that Internet Explorer on these chips, even in the regular desktop, wouldn’t run Flash or any similar browser add-ins. Mobile devices were moving away from Flash as a whole, he said.
Windows 8 on chips using Intel’s x86 architecture will still support Flash, but only in the desktop version and not in the Metro interface Microsoft is encouraging most to use. In both cases, the company is steering users towards universal standards like HTML5.
Sinofsky also clarified the situation surrounding desktop apps on ARM. Besides built-in Windows apps, only Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Word would run in the environment. Metro would still be the only option for third-party apps. “There are no other compiled desktop apps that are available,” the executive said.
The absence of Flash was partly anticipated given Adobe’s plans to drop all mobile development. A lack of apps outside of Metro for ARM users, however, leaves the desktop environment to fill in for missing features and creates a sharp split between the x86 version of Windows 8, where users will have full access to the web and third-party apps, and the possibly more optimized but heavily constrained experience on ARM. Microsoft has argued that it’s aiming for a more closely integrated experience on ARM that many have interpreted as an attempt to emulate the iPad’s model.