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How Online Video Works: Flash Very Much Alive

HTML5 video and Apple's refusal to allow Adobe Flash Player on iOS didn't kill Flash, it just changed the way people use it. Flash still offers so many features unavailable in HTML5 -- such as a variety of streaming modes, multicasting, DRM and closed captioning -- that it's still widely used, both on mobile through AIR apps and on the desktop through the browser plugin.

Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8 currently comprises a very small percentage of the desktop and device market but this will undoubtedly grow rapidly over the next few months. Here's what we know about Flash support on Windows 8.

As you probably know, there are two basic versions of Windows 8, the full version for regular computers and Intel-based tablets, and Windows RT for mobile devices. Both come with IE 10, which can be configured in Desktop mode, which looks like a traditional browser, and Modern (previously called Metro), which is the glitzy new user interface.

There are several key takeaways respecting Windows 8. First, Flash Player comes preinstalled with IE 10 and any updates are distributed via Windows standard update mechanisms. In Desktop mode, all Flash video will play normally. However, in Modern view, only sites approved by Microsoft and placed on a Compatibility View list can play Flash content. IE10 is HTML5 compatible, of course, and plays H.264 video delivered via HTML5 in both views without limitation.

According to Adobe officials, AIR is currently supported for Windows 8 Desktop and Adobe is actively working on support for AIR on Windows 8 Modern and Windows RT, which it expects to deliver in the first half of 2013.

Otherwise, because the OS is so new and I don't have a machine to test it on, I'll stop now and promise to revisit video playback under Windows 8 once the bugs are shaken out and I have a test computer.

Author's note: I'd like to thank David Hassoun and Jeff Dicker from interactive developer Real Eyes Media for providing details about the capabilities of Flash when deployed in AIR-based iOS and Android apps.

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