Firefox 69 Puts Stranglehold On Adobe Flash, Disabling It By Default
At one point in time, it seemed like Adobe's Flash animation plugin was invincible. How could such a widely-used API ever die off? Well, as it turns out, when the plugin in question has been riddled with security vulnerabilities for most of its life, sometimes the developer will do the world a favor and put the solution out to pasture.
In 2017, Adobe announced that it was doing just that. Flash was effectively dead, or at least will be by the end of 2020. Shortly after that announcement, Google announced that Chrome would cease support for the plugin at the same time, and inevitably, we knew every other browser maker would follow suit. Microsoft also jumped in vowing to kill support in 2020 for Edge. Now, it's time for Mozilla to fill us in on its own plans this year.
The current stable version of Firefox is version 64, so if you somehow love Flash, you'll have a bit of time to figure out how you want to mourn its demise. The feature will get the axe as soon as Firefox69 comes along. Soon into 2019, Mozilla will begin warning users who are viewing Flash content about its pending demise, while later, Firefox 69's release will purge it for good.
Admittedly, Mozilla's move here isn't likely to affect too many people, as Flash usage has declined rather dramatically over the past decade. According to analytics tool W3Techs, Flash usage sat at around 28.5% in January 2011, whereas today, that number sits at a meager 3.9%. Given the continued decline, by the time these new browser updates roll out, the numbers are going to be even lower. We actually seem to be close to a future where we can forget that Flash ever happened!
For a quick history lesson, Flash's origins began in the mid-90s. It was a product produced by FutureWave called SmartSketch, and humorously, FutureWave's offer to sell to Adobe back then was rejected. Later, Macromedia purchased SmartSketch instead, and renamed the product to Flash. About 8 years later, Adobe acquired Macromedia, so ultimately, the product formally known as SmartSketch wound up with it anyway. Ownership of the product has certainly benefited Adobe since, with other applications, like Adobe Animate, serving a new generation of web animators.