What the End-of-Life Schedule for Adobe Flash Means for Web Users

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What the End-of-Life Schedule for Adobe Flash Means for Web Users

It took years of griping about security and website performance, but at long last, Adobe has set a date for withdrawing support for the Flash web multimedia platform. In a statement July 25, Adobe said the time has come for it to “end-of-life Flash” and it would stop supporting the technology at the end of 2020. Adobe said it will maintain Flash’s security and work with its browser partners to keep the platform working reliably. But after 2020, Flash will gradually fade away from the millions of web pages that use Flash to display graphics and video. But it won’t be a minute too soon for its long-term critics. Read on to learn more about the plans for this long-awaited transition from Flash.

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Why Flash Is Dying

Adobe’s decision to kill Flash comes after years of complaints that Flash was a fundamentally insecure multimedia platform and the vector for countless cyber-attacks. In 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs derided Flash as a buggy resource hog that degraded web application performance, and Apple restricted Flash on its iOS mobile devices. Web developers have been moving to alternative technologies such as HTML5 and WebGL for years.

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It Won’t Happen Overnight

Adobe is giving website developers and managers plenty of time to transition to Flash alternatives. Adobe will continue to support Flash for two-and-a-half more years. With the end of support scheduled for the end of 2020, businesses, websites, consumers and video creators will be able to transition away from Flash at their own pace.

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Adobe Will Continue to Support Flash for Many Platforms

Adobe will continue to patch and update Flash until the end of 2020, the company confirmed in a statement, but only on certain operating systems and browsers. Those include Windows XP and later versions, the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. MacOS 10.9 or later (as well as its Safari browser) and certain Linux distributions will also get security updates.

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Apple’s Plan for Flash’s End of Life

In a statement, Apple noted that it hardly supports Flash on the Mac and it never supported it on iOS. Apple recommended all users transition away from Flash as soon as possible. Apple will continue to keep Flash off by default in macOS.

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Facebook Has a Flash Plan

Facebook said it is partnering with game developers to transition to HTML5. The company has also launched a Unity WebGL guide to educate developers on moving away from Flash, and will host training webinars on the migration Aug. 30-Oct. 31. Additionally, Facebook will “offer more resources for developers to aid in the migration path” in the coming months and years.

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Google Will Phase Out Flash Use in Chrome Browser

In a blog post July 25, Google said it will “continue phasing out Flash” between now and the end of 2020. Its first step will be to ask users for permission to run Flash before turning it on in Chrome. After that, the company plans to disable the feature by default. Flash will be completely removed from Chrome by the end of 2020.

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Microsoft Says Goodbye to Flash

Between the end of 2017 and early 2018, the Microsoft Edge browser will start asking users for permission to run Flash the first time it’s accessed. By the end of 2018, Edge will ask for permission during each Flash session. Internet Explorer will run it without special permission and support it as it does now through the end of 2018. By the end of 2019, Flash support will be disabled in both browsers, but users will be able to turn it on. By the end of 2020, Microsoft will remove Flash support from its software.

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Mozilla Sets Timeline for Supporting Flash in Firefox

Mozilla is following a similar timeline with its support for Flash in Firefox. Starting next month, Firefox will ask users to choose which sites will run Flash. Starting in 2019, Flash will be disabled by default and only those with the Firefox Extended Support Release will be able to continue using it.

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Some of the Technologies Replacing Flash

Although Flash is going away, rich content will still be alive and well on the internet. Open standards including HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have been widely adopted. Over time, browser companies have bundled many Flash-like features into their software without directly supporting the Flash software. The use of Flash plugins has long been unpopular and will continue to decline.

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What’s Next for Adobe?

Adobe said it will continue to have a prominent in web app development after it stops supporting Flash. The company plans to continue developing “new web standards and actively participate in their advancement.” Principally, Adobe plans to contribute to HTML5 and the WebAssembly Community Group and deliver new tools for web designers and developers to create online content.

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