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Adobe to "retire" Flash in 2020

Adobe has announced plans to kill-off its Flash application from 2020 when it will finally be “retired”.  

The company made the announcement late on Tuesday. It pledged that, after 2020, it will stop releasing updates for Flash and web browsers will no longer support it.

“Adobe has long played a leadership role in advancing interactivity and creative content – from video, to games and more – on the web. Where we’ve seen a need to push content and interactivity forward, we’ve innovated to meet those needs,” the company claimed.

“Where a format didn’t exist, we invented one – such as with Flash and Shockwave. And over time, as the web evolved, these new formats were adopted by the community, in some cases formed the basis for open standards, and became an essential part of the web.”

That isn’t strictly speaking true, though: Both Flash and Shockwave were acquired by Adobe, rather than created by it, when it scooped up Macromedia for $3.4bn in April 2005. A certain Mr Stephen Elop was CEO of Macromedia at the time. 

Macromedia was also responsible for the Dreamweaver web development application, which is now part of Adobe’s Creative Suite. 

Tech firms including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Mozilla are gladly offering a helping hand to Adobe, and will all happily phase out support for Flash across the internet “in phases over the next few years”.

Microsoft, for example, says it will disable Flash by default in Edge and Internet Explorer in 2019 with a full removal from Windows in 2020, while Google and Mozilla will phase out the use of Flash over the next few years. 

The death of Flash has been a long time coming. While, as Adobe reminisced, the service played a crucial role for accessing dynamic internet content, Flash has quickly become one of the main targets for hackers and synonymous with bug fixes, pop-ups, and battery life-draining. 

Tech firms have been hammering nail’s into its coffin for some time. Back in 2010, Steve Jobs famously penned a letter that called for the demise of Adobe Flash in favour of a shift to open web standards.

Apple, unsurprisingly, is also welcoming of today’s news: “Apple users have been experiencing the web without Flash for some time. For the Mac, the transition from Flash began in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed.

“Today, if users install Flash, it remains off by default. Safari requires explicit approval on each website before running the Flash plugin.”

Adobe, in its blog post, acknowledged that open standards have progressed, and added that it “will also remain at the forefront of leading the development of new web standards”. 

“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 company said. 

“Over time, we’ve seen helper apps evolve to become plugins, and more recently, have seen many of these plugin capabilities get incorporated into open web standards.

“Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.” 

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