The other day I had a little free time and installed the Developer Preview of Windows 8 on my Asus EP121 slate. All in all, the Metro interface they have developed so far works very well on the slate. You can definitely tell the software is pre-beta, but you can get a great feeling of how well this interface will work on a slate. Especially for those of us who want a slate to be not just a content consumption tool but a content creation tool as well.
So as I have been playing with things, I have also been reading blogs about what is happening with Windows 8. One of the things that jumped out at me was that according to a post in the Building Windows 8 blog, if you use the Internet Explorer 10 browser that launches natively within the Metro interface you will be launching a HTML5 focused browser that prevents the loading of add-ins. I am guessing that the reason for this is the tendency of certain plug-ins to suck up an exorbitant amount of battery and the fact that Metro is geared towards tablets, then battery is everything. So the first thing that comes to mind for most people is support for Flash. But I think that the success of the iPad has proven that you can get along without Flash.
However, what also came to mind to me was the loss of Silverlight and ActiveX and what that means to Business Intelligence. Both Silverlight and ActiveX are used quite a bit within SharePoint and the Microsoft BI stack. For instance the Decomposition Tree and the upcoming Project Crescent are both Silverlight based and a ton of SharePoint uses ActiveX. Luckily the engineers at Microsoft at least give us the option of switching to the “desktop” version of IE which does support plug-ins, but that transition is certainly not a seamless one or at least it isn’t right now.
I get why Microsoft is doing this but for me personally I don’t like someone else making the decision on which plug-ins I can or cannot use. Force me to install from an application store, give me warnings about performance and batter life up the wazzu, make me click “yes I understand” a dozen times — but let me make the choice. If I didn’t want a choice I would buy from a guy wearing a turtleneck.