In the wake of a dangerous zero-day vulnerability found in Adobe Flash, which required that users either uninstall it or update to the latest version, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the web needs to find a new way to support rich media integration. Now, Google plans on slowly phasing out Flash in its web browser, Google Chrome, and switch to HTML5 as the default rich media player.
The reasoning for Flash’s degradation is somewhat complicated, and rooted in two major factors. Due to several security vulnerabilities that resulted in frantic patching by developers, as well as the fact that HTML5 also offers a faster, more integrated experience, Google plans on moving away from Adobe Flash to further improve the end-user’s experience. Basically, by default, Google wants to be able to use HTML5 for displaying rich media, and provide Flash as an option only for those who desire it.
The reasoning for not using Flash any longer is a bit more understandable, though. Due to compatibility issues and an aging, vulnerability-ridden backbone (not to mention common instability issues) some users fear that Flash’s life cycle is near its end. Even though Flash has been significantly improved over the past few years, it’s still a far cry from a quality product. In fact, most mobile devices don’t natively support flash, so for many users it might not even be missed.
Only 10 domains will be safe from Google ending support for Flash, including some of the most widely used websites around the world: YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitch, Amazon, and a few others. However, this exemption to the rule doesn’t necessarily mean that support won’t eventually end for these websites as well. Google will still perform reviews to determine if support for them is required. Eventually, these sites will no longer qualify for exemption from the rule, and will have a year to move on from Flash support to something more modern, like HTML5.
Although, eliminating Adobe Flash completely would be detrimental in certain professions. Flash is still widely used for the purposes of education, entertainment, and such. So, even if Google will no longer support Flash, it makes sense that Adobe will still have to provide fixes for the software, as not providing support for the software would force creators to either adopt a new solution, or use software that’s vulnerable to security threats. Despite this setback, Adobe does recommend that content creators switch to a new platform at their earliest convenience.
What Google Chrome is showing with their discontinued support for Adobe Flash is that, if a technology is outdated or insecure, it needs to be replaced swiftly, or as soon as possible. It makes more sense to adopt technology that’s better for the end-user’s experience, and to one which doesn’t have as many security discrepancies to worry about. Similarly, you don’t want to upgrade from legacy applications and software solutions all willy-nilly. Instead, you should make a coordinated effort to do so with minimal downtime. In Flash’s case, Google is ripping off the band-aid, which might sting at first for many users, but will be better for everyone in the long run.
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