Gone in the Flash of an eye: The end of Adobe Flash Player
Updated: Jan 19
The internet has been around for several decades now, simplifying our lives and assaulting our earlobes with a distinct dial-up tone. It has faced many changes in its life in an attempt to enable global connectivity in the most user-friendly way possible. Though many updates have come and gone, there have been very few ‘end an era’ moments during its lifetime, however with the rate at which technology changes, it seems several doors are about to be shut.
The first of these? An old soul from a different time, Adobe Flash.
The Adobe flash player has been a staple in internet browsing ever since its debut in November 1996, when it completely revolutionised how we consumed the internet. In its time, it brought many people around the world a new, never-before-seen experience and provided them with endless hours of enjoyment.
Originally intended to create fully-interactive websites, Flash found a more fitting home after the introduction of HTML5. Instead, Flash found a niche as the dominant platform for online multimedia content, particularly for browser games. However, following an open letter written by Steve Jobs in 2010 stating that "he would not approve the use of Flash on their iOS devices due to numerous security flaws", the use of Flash declined as Adobe transitioned to the Adobe Air platform.
From janky animations and embedded video players to the vast libraries of internet browser games and desktop applications, Adobe Flash has had a legacy like no other.
Although its retirement had been announced back in July 2017 with an EOL date of December 31, 2020, many users have been caught off guard by the no longer supported software, even though It has been advised for several years now that people should begin to uninstall Flash from their devices. This was a way to mitigate complications as the software continued to be unsupported, and Adobe claimed that they will not release security patches once the EOL of date had been reached. However this message was vastly ignored, and few people expected the killswitch to ever be engaged. Sadly, as of January 13, 2021, this was not the case and this has left many users up a creek without a paddle.
Open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have continually matured over the years and served as viable alternatives for Flash content. Also, major browser vendors are integrating these open standards into their browsers already thus deprecating most other plug-ins (like Flash Player).
Adobe believed that by providing more than 3 years notice, developers would have had plenty of time to design alternatives for Flash and migrate Flash content to more modern standards. The final nail in the coffin has been hammered in after Adobe released a statement saying they will be blocking Flash content from running on any pages that feature the plugin from the beginning of January 12, 2021.
It is advised that if people have not uninstalled Flash already, then it should be a top priority as shortly, Flash content will soon be practically inaccessible
Although it is sad to see it go, the new horizons have been set and many similar software developers can only strive to have as much of a legacy as Adobe Flash did. Both famous and infamous, Flash is certainly a software we soon won't be forgetting.