Adobe’s Flash, hated the world over for slowing down computers, containing more holes in security than swiss cheese and stubbornly being the video carrier of choice until recently, is dying.
Video players are migrating to other systems, even if Microsoft’s Silverlight isn’t much better. HTML5-based video and animations are becoming mainstream, and uploaders and other more advanced web-based features can now be replaced with code that doesn’t rely on Flash.
And it’s happening for a good reason. As other components of a web browser and operating system have become more secure, Flash is one of the biggest sources of security vulnerabilities. Hackers love it.
Hacking Team’s commercially available government-supplied tools relied on holes in Flash to hack individuals and companies, for instance, just by users browsing sites unknowingly being digitally broken into.
Even Adobe, Flash’s developer, doesn’t seem to love the much maligned system. Like Microsoft with Windows XP, Adobe’s been trying to migrate companies away from using its own tools while putting out fires left, right and centre.
The one major hold out for dumping Flash wholesale has been advertisers. In June, over 100m adverts were displayed to users globally with Flash, while 84% of banner ads are still Flash, according to Ad Age.
Google took the first step by announcing that come September its Chrome browser will not run Flash adverts by default, meaning that the user has to click to enable the advert. Something virtually no one is likely to do. Firefox also blocked Flash over security concerns.
It marks the beginning of the end for Flash (Occupy Flash will be happy). More advertising platforms are likely to follow. When Chrome and its 51% of global browsers, according to data from Statcounter, start to “intelligently pause” Flash ads in September advertisers will be forced to switch wholesale.
The reasons for Flash to exist will then, hopefully, peter out to embedded tools and systems built within Flash, such as administrative tools. Most home users will no longer be burdened with Flash, which will be good for your computer, your battery, your security and your sanity.
For those that want to experience a Flash-free world right now, it is possible to disable Flash entirely within your browser or set it to require a click to enable it each time something wants to use Flash.
Mobile devices such as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets have mostly been Flash-free for years and they work just fine for the most part. Soon everything will have that speedy, Flash-free existence and humanity will be all the better for it.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Monday 24th August 2015 15.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010