Gone in a flash: Adobe Flash removed from online browsers

For several months now, online browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer have greeted their users with a small message that support for Adobe Flash was going to be ending on Dec. 31, 2020, its End-of-Life (EOL) date. Adobe first announced this in a blog post titled “Flash & the Future of Interactive Content” on July 25, 2017. According to the blog post, the main reason for Flash’s demise is that the maturation of other options to Flash, like HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly, have made it less viable in the long run. Adobe gave the three-year advance notice for Flash’s shutdown to give developers time to port over their work to these other standards.

Though support ended for Flash on Dec. 31, Flash content could still be run on Flash Player until Jan. 12, 2021, when Adobe completely blocked Flash Player from running. However, many browsers dropped support for Flash following the EOL date. Adobe strongly suggests that users uninstall it from their system since Flash no longer works and they will no longer be putting out updates and security patches for it. Adobe will be sending a prompt to users who have Flash still installed for them to easily uninstall it, or users can manually delete it from their system.

With Flash finally leaving, what is the legacy that it has left behind? Since so many websites used Adobe Flash at its prime, there are few who have never seen a “Click to enable Adobe Flash” or “Flash was blocked on this page” popup. Many hold fond memories of playing Flash games like Run, Fireboy and Watergirl, or Papa’s Pizzeria at home or in a school computer lab when they were supposed to be doing work. Thanks to Adobe’s three-year notice, people have been able to save these games by updating them to HTML5, like did, or by putting them in a downloadable launcher like Flashpoint, which has access to over 70,000 Flash games that would otherwise be lost.

But part of the legacy of Adobe Flash is also the number of vulnerabilities it has had over the years. According to CVE Details, which describes itself as “the ultimate security vulnerability database,” Adobe Flash has had at least 1,078 vulnerabilities over the years since its release. Despite how many security vulnerabilities Adobe Flash has had over the years, however, there was a time when nearly 30% of all websites used Flash.

Though the end of Flash is the end of an era, Adobe will continue to contribute to the HTML5 standard and participate in the WebAssembly Community Group. Flash leaves behind an impressive legacy, and the development and usage of other standards build off of the legacy that Flash built for itself.