Calls for the death of Adobe Flash Player have been echoing for years. A number of articles have been published asking when it would die. Well, after what seems like a lifetime, we now have an answer and a definite deadline.
Adobe itself announced the end-of-life date of its highly unpopular product by the end of 2020. To be fair, this is a decision that should have been made years ago when it was absolutely clear the software was not safe. But despite the many security flaws that Flash Player brought – and will continue to bring – it did, for a time, bring much joy to a generation of internet users before the arrival of YouTube and other distractions.
The Internet of the Past
Before Adobe acquired Flash Player, it belonged to Macromedia. It was the early 2000s and the platforms very much enjoyed today weren’t even present…yet. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were just years away from being born and the way a lot of people passed the time was through playing Flash-based video games and watching Flash-based videos.
Even the platforms that have supplanted Flash as the entertainment of choice on the internet owe at least part of their success to the technology. Facebook and YouTube relied on Flash for some time until they ditched it for the arguably much secure HTML5.
The Slow Slog to Death
Flash isn’t dead – not yet. But it is enduring a really painfully slow process towards that end. A number of big platforms have switched to HTML5 because it is much more secure and quite frankly, more ready to take on the future.
One of the biggest web browsers in the planet, Google Chrome, has disabled Flash from running. But given that a number of big-name sites like the BBC still rely on Flash across its many web platforms, Chrome users have the option to enable Flash manually in order to play content.
It was said that Flash wouldn’t end unless big corporations relying on Flash for content delivery would cease to use it. It turns out that wouldn’t be the case as Adobe itself made sure to end support for its own product.
What Happens Next?
There are three more years before Flash ceases to exist and that might be enough time for big websites to shift over to HTML5. In addition, there’s the issue of what to do with the remains that still needs to be tackled. Again, there’s three years left and a number of big names in tech have already taken steps.
Flash is no longer supported on mobile devices. Web browsers are also slowly getting there: Firefox blocked Flash elements, Microsoft Edge implemented click-to-run, and Internet Explorer will disable Flash in 2019.
Adobe Flash Player is headed for a certain death come 2020. It is absolutely the right decision to do so, and its end will bring in a much safer and faster World Wide Web. We can cheer this all we want, but to forget that it actually brought some level of joy to a number of people is a shame.