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August 1, 2012

Internet Explorer 10 released to manufacturing; no Web Audio API or Ogg Vorbis included

Internet explorer

I've been seeing articles about both Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 (IE 10) being released to manufacturing today. Since I cannot recall having posted an article specifically discussing IE 10's audio support (as opposed to discussing Safari 6's recent inclusion of Web Audio API), I started scouring the web for information. Unfortunately, there is very little to report. I cannot find any mention of audio improvements in IE 10. A developer article at Microsoft's Developer Network site heralds "plug-in free browsing", but fails to discuss audio directly. Instead, the article has this to say:

One of the most common uses of plug-ins is for embedding rich audio and video content in webpages using media players like the Flash Player. However, that trend is now changing with the development of the HTML5 video and audio specifications and their growing support across modern browsers. Support for the HTML5 video and audio elements has been available since Internet Explorer 9. Internet Explorer 10 adds support for the proposed HTML5 track element for video captioning. The next section, "HTML5 video ", discusses how to use HTML5 video in detail. 

Further down the page, in the HTML5 Video section discussion encoding, a table details that Ogg Theora and VP8 video formats are not included in IE 10, with the former requiring a plug-in and the latter requiring the user to install the free VP8 codec for Windows. Both video formats use Ogg Vorbis audio, so one could surmise that IE 10 continues to not support Vorbis, either.

"But IE 10 has Flash embedded," I hear you exclaim. This is indeed true. But according to a thorough article at Ars Technica, Flash in the Metro-style browser will only work if you visit a whitelisted site. It is unclear whether individuals can whitelist sites or if that remains entirely in Microsoft's control. It appears that the latter is most likely true, leaving developers stuck with the codec format wars that have so far made HTML5 Audio unusable.

What about Web Audio API? With four Microsoft developers participating in the 29-person W3C Audio Working Group you might think that Web Audio API might be worth including in IE 10. Again, I have seen no evidence of movement just yet. A Google search returns no useful results and there is no mention of the Web Audio API anywhere on Microsoft's website.

Update: The Flash whitelist is controlled by Microsoft. It is at the end of an XML file that is referenced by the Metro browser. Look for a list of domains inside a <Flash> tag. (Thanks to Michael Stum for that information.)