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Adobe’s Flash Player is one of the most exploited pieces of software by hackers wanting to take advantage of its ubiquity, and the company has finally decided to call time on its Flash plugin.
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When Adobe acquired Flash through its 2005 purchase of Macromedia, the technology was on more than 98% of personal computers, according to Macromedia.
The decision was taken in recognition of the fact that open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured to become viable alternatives.
Adobe also notes that most browser suppliers are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.
“Given this progress, and in collaboration with several of our technology partners, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, Adobe is planning to end-of-life [EOL] Flash,” the company said.
Flash began to lose popularity after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs took the decision not to allow the software on mobile devices such as the iPhone in 2010.
The software is unreliable and not secure, he said in an open letter, pointing to security problems associated with Flash that were highlighted by a 2009 report from Symantec. “We do not want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash,” he said.
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On Google’s Chrome browser, daily usage of Flash has fallen from 80% of users in 2014 to just 17%, according to Google. This trend reveals sites are migrating to open web technologies, which are faster, more power-efficient and secure than Flash, Google said in a blog post.
At the end of 2020, Adobe said it will stop updating and distributing Flash, and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to new open formats. However, the company said it will support Flash until then to give the industries and businesses that have been built around Flash technology time to migrate to new formats.
Adobe will continue to support Flash on a number of major operating systems and browsers that currently support Flash content until the end of 2020. This will include issuing regular security patches, maintaining operating system and browser compatibility, and adding features and capabilities as needed.
The company said it plans to move “more aggressively” to EOL Flash in certain geographies where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed, but that it will remain at the forefront of leading the development of new web standards and actively participate in their advancement. This includes continuing to contribute to the HTML5 standard and participating in the WebAssembly Community Group.