Actually Microsoft just changed the default policy for device removal, earlier that was Better performance now it's Quick removal. You were able to change this policy earlier by yourself and you can change it now if you need. But that doesn't mean there's no need in safe removal.
In case of such simple devices like jump drives you can just wait till they stop flashing and just pull them out. They are optimized for quick removal and it's quite unlikely that something happens with them. But even in this case no one guarantees you weren't pulled the device out while a background program is writing an information to it. So if you are absolutely sure in what you are doing you can just pull the jump drives and similar devices down. But if you want to avoid any possible data losses it's better to use safe removal.
An external hard drive is a more complex device which includes more controlling chips (comparing to flash drive), has moving mechanical parts and no one knows what will happen to the drive if you constantly pull it out. It is similar to shutting down the computer by pulling out the cable from the socket or disconnecting the battery from the laptop. Therefore even manufacturers of hard drives (e.g. Seagate) recommend to disconnect external hard drives using Safely Remove Hardware icon.
Besides USB Safely Remove offers significant benefits for active use of external devices even you don't need Safely Remove Hardware. Thanks to its convenient and feature-wise menu the program lets you navigate better in the devices when there several ones on the list, can manage drive letters, hide empty drives of card readers, can run programs on device connection\disconnection and many more.