HBO and top Microsoft's new Flash blacklist

HBO and top Microsoft's new Flash blacklist

Summary: The good news for anyone who uses Internet Explorer 10 is that Microsoft's new blacklist for sites that use Adobe Flash content is small. Only a dozen sites made the "Dirty Dozen Flash Domains." But one of them is a media giant and the other is a superstar of tech news.


Update April 26, 2013: Both and have now been removed from the Internet Explorer Flash blacklist.

Microsoft released a new Internet Explorer 10 Compatibility View list this week.

Normally, that’s not news. But this one contains a little piece of history: the first-ever blacklist of domains that aren’t allowed to run Flash content in Internet Explorer on Windows 8 or Windows RT. Previously, sites containing Flash content had to earn a place on a Microsoft whitelist for playback. The new policy allows any site to play content unless it's on the new blacklist. (For details about Microsoft's sudden change in heart, see "Microsoft changes default Flash behavior in Windows 8 and RT.")

I was curious about which sites would make the blacklist and finally had a chance to inspect it today. The new CV list is remarkable in two ways.

  • First, it contains only a dozen domain names, one surprisingly large and another surprisingly well known in tech circles.
  • Second, it’s mainly focused on Flash on ARM – in other words, Windows RT and its signature device, the Surface RT.

Here’s a screen shot showing the entire <NoFlash> portion of the list:


It’s a little surprising to see HBO’s website ( on the banned list, just as it’s odd to see Leo Laporte’s online media empire,, there. But a closer look at the old and new CV lists shows that both sites were already restricted to x86 and x64 devices. In fact, an ARM-only version of the blacklist had already been part of the previous list, with these mostly high-profile sites approved for Flash on x86/x64 devices but not authorized on ARM.

Of the 12 entries on the Microsoft "Dirty Dozen Flash Domains" list, nine are banned only from playback on ARM devices. A grand total of three domains are banned from using Flash on any Windows platform. The website at, for example, shows off some of the best luggage in the universe (I'm a huge fan and longtime customer), but apparently their web designers aren't so good with Adobe tools.

If you’re a fan of (where my ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley is a regular), everything works fine on Windows 8. On Windows RT, you’ll be shunted seamlessly to an HTML5 version of the site if you try to watch published shows. I had no problems watching back episodes of Leo and friends on a Surface RT. The live stream, however, requires Flash and does not currently work on Windows RT.

But if you try (as I just did) to visit HBO on a Windows RT-powered device, you’ll be stopped at the front door.



It’s a very iPad-like experience. Thankfully, it’s one you won’t see too many other places in Windows.

On an x86/x64 PC running Windows 8, things work much differently in the immersive, modern-style Internet Explorer. HBO's Flash support with that class of processor is just fine, as you can see from this screen snippet.


It's worth noting here that, the site you're most likely going to visit to play HBO shows on a PC or tablet, works fine on Windows RT and is not blacklisted.

I’ve asked Microsoft, HBO, and to comment on the list and will update this post as needed.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8

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  • Chuckling from beyond the grave.

    Although there is no such thing, after reading Ed's article on my iPad, I could have sworn that I detected an extremely faint chuckle carried, as if on the wind, outside my home tonight. It startled me and I had to investigate so I opened my patio doors and then I heard an almost familiar voice seem to whisper, "I told you so." I looked but I couldn't see anyone. Just before I closed the door, I swear I heard that faint chuckle one last time.

    Puzzled, I returned to my midnight web browsing on my iPad secure in the knowledge I have been free of Flash based malware attacks on it since April of 2010.
    • You missed the purpose behind this

      It isn't to protect from malware but to protect against poorly written flash apps.

      Kind of like a certain other company that blacklists applications that don't run properly on their phones and tablets. Because apps have the capability of running poorly on a platform, ALL apps should be banned or only the bad ones? Same with Flash. No reason to ban good Flash apps just because you can use Flash to write bad ones.

      Actually, your beyond the grave voice DID believe that ALL apps should be banned. I can hear Bill Gates chuckling: "I told you so".
      • you missed the point of Steve's problem with Flash

        But I guess that isn't surprising given your avatar. Adobe never did create a good version of Flash for mobile experiences or that didn't kill the battery on an ARM device. Perhaps that's why Adobe has stopped trying. As Steve Jobs mentioned in his letter on Flash, they gave them Adobe years to do it and they never produced a good version. Eventually Adobe gave up.
        • And yet the counter evidence blows away that theory

          "Adobe never did create a good version of Flash for mobile experiences or that didn't kill the battery on an ARM device."

          And yet here we are with a Windows powered ARM device that run Flash without killing the battery.

          Clearly the problem was apple. I told you so.
        • Flash drains battery? Incorrect.

          And yet... HTML5 is actually WORSE with efficiency and resources than Flash is, for many applications (including dynamic/algorithmic animation, and thus games and simulations) -- go to and try it out for yourself, watching your CPU and memory usage...

          Flash is more efficient. (on my system, the Flash test uses 10% of CPU and gives me 60 fps; HTML5 uses 15% of CPU and gives worse performance at only ~47 fps)

          Which means the irony is that it will actually drain your battery life LESS than HTML5 would for these types of tasks. (although HTML5 is probably more efficient for simple tasks like audio and video players)

          Anybody who says "Flash drained the battery life!" clearly doesn't know what they are talking about. Yes, anything that uses processor power drains battery life -- this means streaming video, video games, 3D graphics apps, etc. etc. The more fancy, complex, or multimedia a process or app is, the more it's going to drain your battery.

          So of course Flash "drains battery" more than text and images alone (ie. static web page.) But so does HTML5 and most apps that people run...
          • True

            HTML5 videos run badly on my PC...
      • ...

        in my previous comment I should have said a good Flash browser plugin. That's what Adobe failed to do.
    • Malware attacks

      Doesn't take a genius to prevent getting malware.

      I have been using Flash on my computers since 1996 and have never -- not once -- had a malware attack or security issue due to Flash. And this was even on Windows....
    • enjoy half the internet

      I however will enjoy ALL the internet. You see I also am free of attacks since I am not a moron.
      • Time to update your pathetic talking points

        enough said.
  • What happens

    if you edit the blacklist to remove the offending entries?
    • Well...

      In theory it would allow them to work.

      Although you can do that, the list will be overwritten the next time it's updated, and then you would have to re-edit it. Or you could use a hack to turn off auto-updates, and compatibility with other sites would suffer.
      Ed Bott
  • Considering Flash is garbage

    I expect M$'s list will get pretty big before long.
    • I suspect that this is a pretty stable list

      Given that they are moving from a white list to a black list, they have a good idea what good Flash and bad Flash means. I expect this list to be pretty stable. It will change over time, but not too dramatically.

      In fact, I imagine the TimeWarner/HBO account team at Microsoft is probably talking to their customers this week about what they need to do to move off the banned list.
      • Want to move off the banned last?

        Then dump Flash altogether. Easy-peasy. DOH.
        • you paying for that?

          Het CaviarGreen you paying for the migration form flash to whatever? Until then hush.
  • Luckily...

    HBO GO still works on my Surface RT. And happily, now MAX GO and DishAnywhere both work without having to hack the registry to switch back and forth between the two. I'm happy.
  • Who uses IE?

    Who uses IE?.... IE is used to download Firefox, Chrome or Opera.... then U navigate the web.
    • Hundreds of millions of people do

      And IE's marketshare is on the rise.
      • And IE's marketshare is on the rise

        Sure it's bundled in by default with the OS. Captive audience.