Microsoft Edge Browser to Block Flash Web Page Content by Default

The upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10 will automatically prevent Flash content from loading by default.

Edge Blocks Flash 2

The writing is on the wall, or rather, all over the web. Adobe Flash is becoming a relic of the early commercial web.

This summer's Anniversary Update for Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system introduced a click-to-play function to the Edge web browsing experience that "paused" Adobe Flash content, requiring users to click ads, videos and other Flash-based elements on a web page to view them. In the upcoming Creators Update, Microsoft is going a step further by blocking Flash by default.

"Sites that support HTML5 will default to a clean HTML5 experience. In these cases, Flash will not even be loaded, improving performance, battery life, and security," wrote Microsoft Edge staffers John Hazen and Crispin Cowan, in a blog post. "For sites that still depend on Flash, users will have the opportunity to decide whether they want Flash to load and run, and this preference can be remembered for subsequent visits."

When Microsoft Edge encounters a web page that contains Flash content, it will display a dialog box offering users the option to allow Flash to run in that single instance. Alternately, users can instruct Edge to always allow Flash content to run from a given site, essentially placing it on an exceptions list.

Microsoft isn't the only browser maker that's turning its back on Flash.

Earlier this year, Google announced it would phase out Flash support in Chrome. The company pledged that it would make HTML5 the default option for playing multimedia content by the end of 2016 in Chrome 55.

Concerned about the online security of its users, Mozilla took the bold step of blocking Flash in its Firefox browser in the summer of 2015. At the time, there were two unpatched zero-day vulnerabilities in Flash Player, potentially endangering the systems users who may have stumbled on Flash content that exploited the flaws.

Adobe Flash was an early pioneer in the interactive web and online multimedia delivery. The technology allowed developers to create browser-based games and other rich experiences. However, the platform's unending security woes and the advent of the multimedia-friendly HTML5 standard prompted major technology companies to jump ship.

Apple famously declined to support flash on its iPhone and iPad. In January 2015, YouTube announced it was defaulting to HTML5 instead of Flash for video delivery in the latest browsers.

Rather than making users quit Flash cold-turkey, Microsoft is weening users off the technology by maintaining support for the most popular sites that still support the technology. The company is maintaining an automatic exceptions list that it expects to prune in the coming months as it monitors Flash usage in Edge.

Meanwhile, the company is encouraging developers to adopt today's web standards for improved website interoperability going forward. "We advise web developers to migrate to standardized content delivery mechanisms like JavaScript and HTML5 Encrypted Media Extensions, Media Source Extensions, Canvas, Web Audio, and RTC [real-time communication] in the coming months," added Hazen and Cowen.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...