Once a staple of the internet Adobe Flash expanded the features of the early web. Today, it no longer holds that power and has been on the decline and replaced by modern technologies.
First, let’s start with a brief history all the way back in the late 90s. The internet is this new thing that connects the world. In those early days, it didn’t do much but display text. To combat this software like plug-ins came around to run alongside the internet and expand its features.
The biggest of these was Adobe Flash Player. Flash took over the internet. YouTube and other online videos player, online audio players, nearly any online game, graphics, and almost anything else that you interacted with on the internet was powered by Flash. But now Adobe Flash’s days are numbered.
On December 31, 2020, Adobe Flash will be dead.
In July 2017, Adobe and its partners Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Mozilla (makers of the Firefox browser) made a joint announcement that it’s time to move past Adobe Flash.
When the new year rolls around apps powered by Flash will cease to work. Microsoft has announced that they will uninstall the plugin from Windows computers through a Windows Update. Google Chrome has Flash deactivated by default, for now, you can re-enable it when needed, with Flash being completely removed by the end of 2020. And in Safari, the browser asks for your permission before running Flash content. The feature will be completely removed from Safari with the release of Safari 14 and macOS Big Sur.
So what happened to Flash? One of the big issues was the many security and privacy vulnerabilities. Time and time again vulnerabilities appeared that Adobe knew about, yet they still dragged their feet when came to releasing fixes.
There were many outspoken critics of the software like Steve Jobs who wrote an open letter titled “Thoughts on Flash” where he shared a security research company’s findings that stated Flash as “having one of the worst security records in 2009”. He goes on to say that “Flash is the number one reason Macs crash.” His list of gripes included terrible performance, terrible reliability, terrible security, terrible battery life, and the lack of touch support.
However, at the end of the day, there are two main reasons Adobe Flash has met its demise.
One, the lack of touch support. In 2020 we think everything is optimized for touch screen mobile devices, but not Flash applications.
So, Stop using Flash
If you cross paths with a website wanting to use Flash know that in the future you may not get that option. That site might load correctly if at all. So it may be time to start looking for some alternatives or try contacting the person on the other side site. Also if you get a popup asking you to download and install Flash, don’t. Chances are is just a virus wanting to infect your computer. Be prepared technology evolves quickly.
Timeline & Updates
I’m going to put some updates on Flash as It reaches it’s final days.
- In July 2017 Adobe announced that the development of Flash will come to an end by the end of 2020.
- Flash was removed from Safari in version 14 which was released on Sept. 14 for macOS Catalina and High Sierra and bundled with macOS Big Sur.
- On December 8th Adobe released version 32 of Flash Player which is their last scheduled release of the software.
- On December 31 Flash will officially be unsupported.
- With the release of Firefox version 85 in January 2021, Flash support will be removed.
- On Windows, Flash will be removed/uninstalled via a Windows Update. The “update” will remove Flash from Internet Explorer and older versions of Edge.
- Chrome and Edge will remove Flash with the release of versions 88 which should come in early January 2021
- After January 12, 2021, Adobe will start blocking Flash content from loading.
Flash End of Support:
- Adobe Blog: Flash & the Future of Interactive Content
- Microsoft Docs: Adobe Flash end of support on December 31, 2020
- Microsoft Blog: Update on removing Flash from Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer
- ZDNet: Safari 14 removes Flash, gets support for breach alerts, HTTP/3, and WebP
- Google Blog: Saying goodbye to Flash in Chrome
- Flash Player 32 Release Notes
- Mozilla (Firefox) Plugin Roadmap
- Mozilla (Firefox) Blog: Firefox Roadmap for Flash End-of-Life
- Mozilla (Firefox) Blog: Ending Firefox support for Flash
- Chromium (the backbone of both Chrome and Edge) Flash Road map
- Wikipedia: Adobe Flash
- Wikipedia: Adobe Flash Player
- BBC News: Adobe acknowledges critical security flaw in software
- Apple.com (via Wayback Machine): Thoughts on Flash By Steve Jobs
- Wikipedia: HTML
- Wikipedia: CSS
- Data Insider: Kicking Plugins to the Curb in the Name of Security