In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Adobe on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.
Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.
Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.
HTML5 has become a fully capable option now, Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond said. “If your firm still has Flash content or enterprise applications that use Flex, make no mistake – the clock is ticking,” he added. “You have a limited time to decide what to do.”
Adobe is giving developers more than six years to make the migration. Adobe noted that industries have been built around Flash, including games, education, and video. The company will continue to support Flash on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, as well as on browsers until its end of life is reached.
According to Mozilla’s roadmap for Flash in the Firefox browser, Firefox will introduce user-visible warnings for websites that continue to use Flash in early 2019. Firefox will disable Flash by default for most users that year. Firefox will refuse to load the plug-in in 2021 after Adobe stops shipping security updates for Flash at the end of 2020. Starting next month, Firefox will prompt users to decide which websites are able to run Flash. “The end of Flash offers an opportunity to bring legacy design and content in the Flash format into a new era using HTML and web technologies,” Benjamin Smedberg, architect for the Firefox product integrity team, said.
Microsoft plans to phase out support for Flash in its Edge and Internet Explorer browsers, with Flash removed from Windows by the end of 2020. Flash support will be removed from Google’s Chrome browser at that time as well.