With tech enthusiast web sites from around the world starting to leak Windows 8 Release Preview information, your intrepid “Windows 8 Secrets” co-authors offer a bit of color commentary about what you’re seeing and how these features will really work. In this new co-post analyzing these leaks, we look briefly at a potential shocker: Internet Explorer 10 is going to bundle Adobe Flash technology.

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Two years ago, Microsoft declared that the future of video on the web would be powered by HTML 5. Today, however, a lot of web video content is still delivered via Adobe Flash technology. So, in a somewhat surprising move, Microsoft is integrating Flash directly into Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 and doing so in a way that does not undermine the safety and reliability of the Metro environment.

This news comes courtesy of a forum post on WinUnleaked.tk (free registration required).

ie_wo_flash
IE 10 without Flash

ie_with_flash
IE 10 with Flash

Before this, the general assumption was that Microsoft would pursue only web-standard technologies in IE 10. But with the Metro version of IE 10 not offering users the ability to extend the capabilities of the browser with add-ons, the software giant realized this may be too restrictive for consumers. So how could it meet the needs of consumers by providing Flash in a way that didn’t subvert Metro?

Interestingly, they were able to do so without contradicting any of the earlier statements the company made about web standards and Flash in IE. Consider the following statement by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Dean Hachamovitch, made over two years ago:

Today, video on the web is predominantly Flash-based. 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. We work closely with engineers at Adobe, sharing information about the issues we know of in ongoing technical discussions. Despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web.

As Mr. Hachamovitch noted, Microsoft does work closely with Adobe, closely enough that Adobe actually provided Microsoft with source code access to Flash, allowing them to seamlessly integrate the technology into IE 10. Thus, Microsoft did not need to make an exception to its no-add-on policy for Internet Explorer Metro. By making Flash a part of IE 10, it can ensure the code meets its own standards for reliability, compatibility, security, and, probably most important, performance.

Remember, Hachamovitch noted that Flash was an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web. So, Microsoft has extended the Internet Explorer Compatibility View list to include rules for popular Flash-based web sites that are known to meet certain criteria. That is, Flash is supported for only those popular but legacy web sites that need it. This feature is not broadly available for all sites.

This move, while initially surprising, is entirely in keeping with Microsoft’s long-standing commitments to backwards compatibility.

Have you seen any other Windows 8 leaks you’d like to know more about? Drop us a line and let us know!

–Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera