Adobe to retire Flash Player in 2021

Adobe’s 21 year-old web media player, Flash Player, will officially reach end-of-life at the end of 2020.

Adobe, as well as major platform providers, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla announced their respective plans to migrate from Flash to open web technologies, such as HTML5, through to the end of 2020. 

“Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats,” Adobe said in a statement.

The Flash Player browser plugin has been a source of countless security scares over the years, prompting calls for Adobe to retire it. 

In December 2015 Adobe announced it would sunset Flash Player and encouraged developers to move to HTML5. It aired the plan shortly after an exploit for Flash Player was leaked by Italian firm Hacking Team, which impacted Facebook’s gaming business. 

While Flash has been a de facto standard for video and gaming content, browser makers have in recent years reduced the usage of Flash Player plugin and other plugins, for example by dropping support for NPAPI plugins. 

In January Google also enabled HTML5 by default in Chrome, restricting Flash to some sites. 

According to Google, only 17 percent of Chrome desktop users visited a site with Flash today, down from 80 percent three years ago, suggesting sites have moved to open web technologies. 

Flash today can still be enabled in Chrome settings, for sites like HBO and Facebook games, but Google says it will remove Flash completely from Chrome toward the end of 2020.

“If the site migrates to open web standards, you shouldn’t notice much difference except that you'll no longer see prompts to run Flash on that site. If the site continues to use Flash, and you give the site permission to run Flash, it will work through the end of 2020,” wrote Anthony Laforge, Chrome product manager. 

Firefox maker Mozilla will block the Flash plugin at the end of 2020 once Adobe stops providing security updates for the software. 

Mozilla has also updated its roadmap for Flash in Firefox on the desktop and Android. It will disable it for most desktop users in 2019, but will permit it in Firefox Extended Support Release until the end of 2020. 

With the August release of Firefox 55, users will need to choose which sites are allowed to activate the Flash plugin. 

Facebook by far delivers the most Flash Player content today of any site to Chrome users, according to Google’s statistics

The social network will allow games built with Flash to continue on Facebook through to the end of 2020, however it is urging developers to keep an eye on Chrome’s switch to click-to-play for Flash-based content in the summer of 2018. 

Microsoft last year introduced click-to-play for Flash in Edge with the Windows 10 Creators Update. This format will continue to “mid to late 2018” when Edge will require the user approve Flash for each session, Microsoft said today. Internet Explorer will allow Flash for all sites in 2018. 

Microsoft will disable Flash by default in Edge and IE in mid to late 2019, but users will be able to re-enable it, though they’ll need for on a  site-by-site basis for Edge. It too will remove Flash from both browsers by the end of 2020.  

Apple’s WebKit team noted in its announcement that Flash was never supported on iOS and that if Flash is installed on macOS today, it is off by default. 

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