Adobe Systems's Flash technology will be retired at the end of 2020, the software company announced Tuesday.
Adobe has long played a leadership role in advancing interactivity and creative content - from video, to games and more - on the web. Flash and Shockwave formats were adopted by the community, in some cases formed the basis for open standards, and became an essential part of the web.
But as open standards like 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. 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.
Flash's popularity also began to wane after Apple's decision not to support it on the iPhone.
In a public letter in 2010, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticized Flash's reliability, security and performance. Since then, other technologies like HTML5 have emerged as alternatives to Flash.
Given this progress, and in collaboration with Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, the company will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourages content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.
On Google's Chrome, the most popular web browser, Flash's usage has already fallen drastically. Mozilla's Firefox still supports it but will phase out Flash by 2020. The same applies for
Microsoft's Edge and Internet Explorer.
Adobe will continue to support Flash on a number of major OSs and browsers that currently support Flash content through the planned EOL. This will include issuing regular security patches, maintaining OS and browser compatibility and adding features and capabilities as needed. In addition, the company plans to move more aggressively to EOL Flash in certain geographies where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.