Windows 8 to Adobe Flash: We're Just Not That Into You

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 3:42 PM EDT

Microsoft (MSFT) showed off Windows 8 (the codename, oddly enough) at yesterday's D9 conference. It is influenced by Windows Phone 7, formatted for tablets -- and totally run by HTML 5 and JavaScript. Where's Flash? Already notoriously shunned by Apple (APPL), Adobe (ADBE) Flash has now been dissed by the other major computer giant. Windows 8 may serve the final blow to Flash that iOS couldn't.

Adobe should be concerned about Windows 8 because it focuses on the fastest growing computer platform: tablets. Here are some of the details from yesterday's preview (see video below):

  • Tile-based icons, a la Windows Phone 7
  • "Snap" multitasking allows a picture-in-picture-inspired experience
  • "Thumbs" layout splits the keyboard between both sides of the tablet for easy typing
  • Driven by HTML 5 and a bit of JavaScript

Steve Jobs has already banished Flash from his Apple iOS kingdom. Microsoft is slowly but surely getting onto tablets, leaning heavily on HTML 5. At this point, the only major tablet player supporting Flash is Google (GOOG), and Android's support of Flash is looking dubious, too.

As far as frenemy Microsoft bypassing Adobe, the writing has been on the wall. Back in Spring 2010, my BNET colleague Erik Sherman talked about Apple and, more covertly, Microsoft conspiring to kill Flash:

Adobe (ADBE) Flash has historically been a major choice for delivering video. However, Flash depends on browser plug-ins and so leaves control in Adobe's hands. This explains much of Apple's antagonism to the company, supposed technical concerns aside. Apple's business strategy demands control over all parts of a product ecosystem, whether hardware design, third party software availability, or content.

Flash delivers one aspect of video technology. HTML 5 will likely supplant it over time. However, there is another vital aspect of video delivery: how sites and browsers compress and uncompress it. Both Apple and Microsoft are pushing a video compression standard called H.264.

It is now obvious that Microsoft was intending to become less Flash dependent all along. Where does this leave Adobe? It should push hard to get Flash onto the dozens of Android tablets. At this point, only a few have Flash support. Connecting with Google's mobile devices is the only way Flash will have relevance in the near future.

Photo courtesy of Birgerking // CC 2.0