Flash officially killed off as Adobe pulls support for controversial internet tool

Andrew Griffin
Friday 01 January 2021 16:52 GMT
A window on the Mozilla Firefox browser shows the browser has blocked the Adobe Flash plugin from activating due to a security issue on July 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany
A window on the Mozilla Firefox browser shows the browser has blocked the Adobe Flash plugin from activating due to a security issue on July 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany (Getty Images)

Flash, the technology that underpinned many of the internet’s formative moments, has been killed off.

Adobe, the company that makes the technology, will no longer support the technology and has encouraged people to delete it.

The technology became famous for underpinning the videos and games that helped the internet grow in its earlier years. It allowed sites such as YouTube to stream video, and meant that other content could be shared by just installing a plug-in.

It also allowed creators to relatively easily make animations or games and host them online.

At its height, the technology was installed on almost all computers. In 2009, Adobe said that Flash had been installed on 99 per cent of PCs with internet connections.

But the technology also came in for significant criticism. Some argued that the technology had security problems, battery issues and offered an all-round poor user experience.

Those critics included Steve Jobs, who in 2010 wrote an open letter in which he attacked the technology and explained why it would not be used in Apple’s then new iPhones and iPads. The exclusion of the technology from mobile devices helped encourage websites to use more open technologies such as HTML5 instead, and helped bring about the decline of Flash.

After being created in 1996 and then experiencing boom years through the 2000s, the use of the app gradually began to drop off.

In 2015, Google’s Chrome started automatically blocking some Flash content amid security concerns.

Microsoft then announced in 2017 that it would be discontinuing support for the software, “due to the diminished usage of the technology and the availability of better, more secure options”.

That means that PCs will not get updates for any security bugs found in the software and so computers with it installed could be at risk.

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The Adobe website also encouraged anyone who still has the plug-in installed on their computer to remove it for security reasons.

“Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems,” a message reads.

As the end of the technology approached, the Internet Archive announced that it would be cataloguing famous Flash content so that they could be preserved even after the technology is discontinued. Users will be able to use a Flash emulator to play animations and games.

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