Adobe to Kill Flash in 2020

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 16 Comments

Adobe to Kill Flash in 2020

Die, Flash. Just die.

Adobe announced today that it will support its controversial Flash technology through 2020. That should be enough time for those companies that still rely on this soul-sucking product to transition to superior web standards.

“As open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web,” the Adobe announcement notes. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.”

Given this change, Adobe says it is ready to kill Flash, though it will take its time doing so, and will distribute, update, and support the Flash Player through the end of 2020. The reason? Some important customers still use it.

Support for Flash includes issuing security updates, an alarmingly frequent need, and maintaining OS and browser compatibility as those products evolve.

“We remain fully committed to working with partners, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla to maintain the security and compatibility of Flash content,” the Adobe announcement continues. “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.”

As you may recall, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs infamously penned a public letter about Flash way back in 2010. It’s called Thoughts About Flash, and is humorously still available on Apple’s website.

“We do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods, and iPads,” Mr. Jobs wrote. “Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality, it is based on technology issues … [including] reliability, security, and performance.”

But that was a lie: The real reason Jobs banned Flash from i-devices is that Adobe had earlier been slow porting Photoshop to Mac OS X, and was, at that time, supporting Windows better instead. This always bothered Jobs, since Adobe and Apple had always been close partners in the past, the former CEO admitted in his official biography.

Well, good news, Mr. Jobs, if perhaps too late to benefit you: Adobe, finally, is killing Flash. And good riddance, I say. Because while I may have disagreed with Steve Jobs on a number of topics, this is one he got right.


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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Adobe to Kill Flash in 2020”

  1. SRLRacing

    The lack of flash on smartphones created a real pain point in mobile web browsing for years. Its only recently gotten to the point where you could say you have a mostly fully featured experience as much the world has moved beyond flash. I wonder what Japanese web designers are going to do though. So many newly built sites I see out of Japan are built almost entirely in flash and look straight out of 2001.

    • Stokkolm

      In reply to SRLRacing:

      One could argue that the lack of flash on smartphones is what drove or sped up the creation of the open web standards that have replaced it. Pain is, unfortunately, the primary factor that drives humans to change. It's our nature.

  2. BrianEricFord

    I didn't realize stating something as a fact without evidence was enough to prove that something else was a lie.

    Very well:

    "Paul is creating an alternate theory because he doesn't want to admit Steve Jobs was right before most other people finally caught up."

    • Timothy Frisby

      In reply to BrianEricFord:

      The lie is not that Flash wasn't technically deficient, rather it was that Jobs' stated reason for not allowing flash was a lie (or perhaps more accurately, not the whole truth).

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to Timothy_Frisby:

        Flash at that time was pretty horrible. It wasn't just security problems (which were very real). Smartphone hardware wasn't powerful enough to support how it was used at the time, as, many sites had "mouse over" functionality in their flash implications, which was impossible to interact with on a touch screen. Flash was so overused that I wonder if good website standards would have ever emerged had Flash not been slowed down. The Android ports of Flash weren't worth it either. For whatever the reason, Apple won that battle, and from the time this battle started, the conversation has gone from "but we need Flash" to "good riddance."

      • Waethorn

        In reply to Timothy_Frisby:

        No. Flash was,and still is terrible on ARM. Steve Jobs was right about that. It also has all kinds of licensing issues which prevents porting to various ARM processors. The licensing and technical limitations are the same reason as to why Netflix isn't available on non-OEM ARM systems, especially DIY boards and systems that aren't certified by Google for the Play Store. Namely, certain DRM restrictions within the platform.

  3. Oasis

    Good to hear there is finally a plan to ditch this once and for all. Should have been done long ago....

  4. Darmok N Jalad

    Someone tell so they can get with the program on their browser streaming.

  5. chaad_losan

    It's like windows XP it will stick around for another generation or more due to the fact that Adobe really cannot force people to stop using it. And unless there is some magical kill switch that adobe has it will linger for years and years.

    • BMcDonald

      In reply to chaad_losan:

      As soon as major web browsers stop supporting it - which is probably coming soon as well - you will only be using it if you are using severely old technology.

      Plus websites themselves will starting dropping it as well - at which point it becomes useless

      • warren

        In reply to BMcDonald:

        Every major browser vendor announced their plans to kill Flash today. They have all committed to making it impossible to run Flash by the end of 2020.

        Yes, you read that right: Every browser vendor has committed to making it MPOSSIBLE to run Flash. You won't be able to download the plugin and use it in a modern browser.

        Here's Microsoft's statement. Links to the other browser vendors are there too:

  6. Waethorn

    It wasn't a lie - Adobe doesn't have a good ARM port for Flash Player.

  7. Nic

    Now we just need Fox Sports, NBC Sports, XFinity, and many more, to stop forcing you to have Flash installed to watch video.

    • RonH

      In reply to Nic:

      I have started to email web site support for each site I go to if they use flash saying they need to modernize. I also hassle them about some of their stupid password policies while I am at it.. I am amazed at some of the responses I get.

      One site said "most people use flash" I responded " You give them no other option to view your content, other than to look elsewhere, which I do now."

      I didn't get a follow up response.

  8. Waethorn

    Don't use a Pharrell Williams song as a meme.

    Not even once.

  9. Bill Russell

    I guess as long as the browser makers get together to officially block it completely, it could finally die.

    I wouldn't care about Flash but I often watch shows on the cable channels websites. (lately these have been Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot).

    Inevitably, depending on the power of the laptop or PC I use, at best the system runs full bore and gets hot, fan blaring away the whole time. At worst starts stuttering to the point of un-watchability. Compared to Netflix which runs effortlessly on anything at BLU ray quality.

    These web sites use flash because of its ubiquitousness and DRM capabilities which I know nothing about. Hopefully the new HTML5 EME standard solves this issue and can replace Flash now on these sites. Anybody understand this situation better and could explain?