Flash to go bang in 2020: Adobe says final goodbye to plugin

26 Jul 2017

Adobe headquarters in California. Image: jejim/Shutterstock

Flash, the doyen of plugins, will finally be plugged out at the end of 2020.

For the best part of 20 years, Flash was that ubiquitous plugin that enabled most of us to watch videos, play games and do all kinds of interesting stuff.

But it seems that Flash is about to be consigned to the digital graveyard like a lot of other technologies we grew up with, such as CD-ROMs, .EXE files and floppy disks.

‘It’s taken a lot of close work with Adobe, other browsers and major publishers to make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free’

Adobe has confirmed that Flash will be phased out by the end of 2020 and the company will no longer update or distribute the software.

Until then, Adobe will partner with platform players, including AppleFacebookGoogleMicrosoft and Mozilla, to offer security updates in their browsers.

Flash! Will you miss it?

Adobe said in a statement that Flash and its sibling Shockwave were born of necessity and served their purpose.

As open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly arrived, they began to provide many of the capabilities and functions that Flash used to.

“Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers, and deprecating plugins,” Adobe said.

Adobe pointed out that several industries have been built around Flash technology, including gaming, education and video.

“Adobe will continue to support Flash on a number of major OSs and browsers that currently support Flash content through the planned end-of-life (EOL). This will include issuing regular security patches, maintaining OS and browser compatibility, and adding features and capabilities as needed.”

The company continued: “In addition, we plan to move more aggressively to EOL Flash in certain geographies where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.”

Adobe said it plans to remain at the forefront of the development of new web standards, including HTML5 and the WebAssembly Community Group.

For 20 years, Flash helped shape the web and our multimedia experiences.

But the decline is obvious. In Chrome, for example, three years ago, 80pc of desktop users visited a site with Flash each day. Today, usage is only 17pc and declining.

The beginning of the end for Flash was in 2010 when Steve Jobs decided not to include it on the iPhone, stating that it was too insecure and proprietary, and more suited for desktop than mobile.

The general feeling is mutual: Flash is too unstable for the needs of modern internet browsers, and it seems that few will lament its passing.

Google said it best: “It’s taken a lot of close work with Adobe, other browsers and major publishers to make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free. We’re supportive of Adobe’s announcement today, and we look forward to working with everyone to make the web even better.”


Adobe headquarters in California. Image: jejim/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years