Adobe kills the Flash

Wait, not that Flash.

Adobe Systems has announced that it is finally putting an end to Flash Player, its multimedia software plugin. Specifically, the company will stop updating and distributing it at the end of 2020, and start encouraging content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to other platforms, Adobe says in a July 25 press release.

“Several industries and businesses have been built around Flash technology – including gaming, education and video – and we remain committed to supporting Flash through 2020, as customers and partners put their migration plans into place,” it adds. “Looking ahead, Adobe will continue to provide the best tools and services for designers and developers to create amazing content for the web.”

The company points to the maturing of open standards like HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly over the last several years as the reason for this decision.

“Over time, we’ve seen helper apps evolve to become plugins, and more recently, have seen many of these plugin capabilities get incorporated into open web standards. Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins,” Adobe explains.

The company says it will continue to support Flash on “a number of major [operating systems] and browsers” that currently support Flash content through regular security patches, maintenance, added features, and browser compatibility.

Adobe says that it will “remain at the forefront of leading the development of new web standards and actively participate in their advancement,” pointing to the HTML5 standard and the WebAssembly Community Group as its continued commitments.

It also reaffirms its commitments to partners like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, who each issued a statement of their own on the news.

“Apple users have been experiencing the web without Flash for some time,” says Apple’s WebKit team in a July 25 blog post. “iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch never supported Flash. For the Mac, the transition from Flash began in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed… The WebKit Project is excited about the future of the open web.”

Facebook echoes these thoughts in a statement of their own, advising developers to follow migration timelines set by browsers, such as Google’s plans to introduce full click-to-play (where a site asks for permission to run Flash) for Flash-based content on Chrome in the summer of 2018.

“As open web standards like WebGL and HTML5 rapidly advanced to offer many of the web game development capabilities provided by Flash, it became clear that Flash’s lifespan was limited,” writes Jakub Pudelek, partner engineering manager at the social media giant. “Today’s news marks the continued evolution of web and desktop gaming, and we’re committed to working with developers to preserve their gaming experiences on Facebook.”

Google expresses its support of Adobe’s announcement, clarifying that it will remove Flash completely from Chrome toward to end of 2020. The company started phasing in Flash click-to-play on certain sites in 2016, and assures users “shouldn’t notice much of a difference” as it slowly disables Flash.

Microsoft adds that it will phase out support for Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer ahead of the 2020 deadline, offering a complete schedule on how that journey will progress.

Through the end of 2017 and into 2018, Microsoft Edge will continue to ask permission to run Flash on most sites the first time they are visited and will remember the users preference on subsequent visits, while Internet Explorer will not require any special permissions.

In mid-to-late 2019, Edge will need permission each session, and by mid-to-late 2019, both Edge and Explorer will have Flash disabled by default. Flash can be re-enabled in both browsers at this time, Microsoft says, but its use will need permission. By 2020, users will not have the ability to enable Flash.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Adobe and our industry partners on enriching the open web without the need for plug-ins,” says John Hazen, principal program manager lead at Microsoft Edge.

Mozilla expands on this, saying “reducing Flash usage now is an important part of making the web and Firefox better together, and [we] will support the end of Flash in 2019 and 2020.”

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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