The end of Adobe Flash Player is nigh: Microsoft has reaffirmed its phase-out plan for one of the internet’s most successful – yet technically troubled – media players, and outlined support options for Flash-reliant businesses.
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Microsoft and Adobe first announced the end of Flash back in July 2017, along with partners Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla. While it led the charge with in-browser games and media experiences back in its heyday, over time the plug-in has become susceptible to a variety of security issues, making it a target for cyberattacks.
More secure browser technology has been made available in the meantime with the arrival of HTML5, which is capable of delivering more modern web-browsing experiences while offering better performance and tighter security for end users.
“The decision to end support for Flash Player was made by Adobe due to the diminished usage of the technology and the availability of better, more secure options such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly,” Microsoft said.
“In keeping with this plan, Microsoft is ending support for Adobe Flash Player on Microsoft Edge (both the new Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Edge Legacy) and Internet Explorer 11 at the end of 2020.”
Microsoft will no longer provide security updates for Flash Player after December 2020. From January 2021, Flash will be disabled by default, and all versions older than the June 2020 update (build KB4561600) will be blocked, Microsoft said.
For businesses that use Flash-dependent enterprise applications, and for customers who need assistance moving away from Flash Player, a handful of support options are being offered.
The new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge will continue to support Flash Player to some degree via Internet Explorer mode, a new feature that allows users to host IE 11 apps in Edge. IE mode will allow Flash Player to load as a plug-in within Edge, Microsoft explained.
Internet Explorer 11 will also allow this “inherently”, though it should be noted that Microsoft is withdrawing security support for both IE 11 and the legacy Edge browser at the end of November 2020.
“Once you make the switch from Microsoft provided Adobe Flash Player, it will be treated as any other third-party plug-in and will not receive Customer Support from Microsoft,” Microsoft said.
For enterprise customers that still require support and licensing for Flash Player beyond 2020 to run internal business systems, Adobe has told customers to contact Samsung-owned Harman, Adobe’s official distribution licensing partner.
In early 2021, Microsoft will push out an update via its Update Catalogue, Windows Update and the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), titled “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player”, which will permanently remove Flash Player from the Windows operating system. Customers who wish to remove Flash sooner will get the option to do so via the Microsoft Update Catalogue in the coming months.
By next summer, all APIs, group polices and user interfaces that specifically govern the behavior of Flash Player will be removed from all Windows platforms and browsers via the same update, except for businesses that are still reliant on Flash-based applications at this time.
“Microsoft will continue providing security updates to Adobe Flash Player and maintain OS and browser compatibility through the end of 2020,” Microsoft said.
“As you transition away from Adobe Flash Player, we encourage you to continue to upgrade your systems with the latest security updates, while it is still in support.”