Adobe Systems announced today that they will officially end support for Flash Player in 2020 according to a blog post on their website. Flash is the ubiquitous plugin that has been used to render video content as well as games and even full websites. It has however, also been well known to contain serious security vulnerabilities and, as a result, has been dropped by many companies and websites in favor of newer technologies such as html5 which supports the majority of things Flash was known for.
One of the most well known blows for Flash in recent history, and what likely started it’s downhill slide, was Apple’s Steve Jobs stating in 2010 that Flash would be blocked from all current and future iPhones. Android supported Flash initially, however it too dropped support in 2012. With support from both major mobile operating systems gone, and a heavily increasing amount of web content being consumed on mobile devices, web developers began to turn their attention to other technologies to help fill the gap. As a result, Flash’s popularity dropped like a rock. In 2014, a mere 3 years ago, nearly 80% of desktop web users utilized Flash in some way each day. Today that number is under 20% and falling.
In addition to it’s security vulnerabilities, Flash has also been known for it’s bloat. A very resource hungry technology, it was quite common for Flash users to experience plugin crashes and even browser hangs due to the plugin. Not to mention the constant updates that continually attempted to bring down additional 3rd party software with it causing systems to slow down even further in general.
As a result of the announcement, Microsoft has announced that they will trim back support for Flash and effectively disable it by 2019 in both Edge and Internet Explorer. Chrome and Firefox users meanwhile are already experiencing the phasing out of Flash from their browsers. Chrome has blocked flash-based ads from playing since 2015 and Firefox has done the same, albeit more recently.
So what does this mean for the end-users? Likely not much. By the time Flash is fully phased out, replacement technologies such as html5 will be widespread enough that Flash shouldn’t really be needed anymore. If anything it will prove to be a small benefit in that there will be one less thing to update on your PC as well as one less thing to cause issues in the future. In the end, it’s high time that Flash gets the boot into the junkyard of misfit software.