Don’t Delete Your Flash Player Just Yet

For a technology that was supposed to die years ago, Adobe's Flash has shown remarkable resiliency.

So while you might think recent moves by Google and Mozilla to reduce support for the technology mean you can finally stop worrying about updating your Flash player, don't be surprised if you keep running into sites that require it for years to come.

"This is the story of technology transitions," said Al Hilwa, an analyst who covers application development. "It just takes time."

A program that plugs into a web browser, Flash is commonly used to deliver ads, stream video and provide games to PCs users. For years, it was a crucial technology for the web, in part because HTML -- the web's native language -- lacked comparable capabilities.

But Flash has been on the deathwatch for years. It's been criticized for being a memory and energy hog, for causing browser crashes and for opening gaping security holes.

Thanks to such complaints, most famously voiced by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Adobe could never establish it on smartphones or tablets, which have replaced PCs as the center of computing. Meanwhile, web standards bodies have moved to replace it on PCs with HTML5, which promises to give web browsers the ability to do much of what Flash did without the plug-in.

Given that history, Mozilla and Google's announcements -- which are only the latest blows for the technology -- would, at first glance, seem like the final nails in its coffin. But even their announcements acknowledge that the technology will linger on.

When Mozilla said last month that it was backing away from Flash, it made clear it wasn't going to drop the technology right away. Instead, it plans to move gradually.

Starting this month, Mozilla's Firefox browser will start blocking some Flash files that are invisible to users, ones that are...

Comments are closed.