Google Ending Automatic Chrome Support For Flash - InformationWeek

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5/16/2016
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Google Ending Automatic Chrome Support For Flash

Google's Chrome browser will begin to display HTML5 video and animation, when they're available, on all but 10 websites starting in the fourth quarter of this year. It's another serious blow to the Adobe Flash platform.

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Google may well have dealt the death blow for Adobe Flash, the multimedia and software platform used for creating Web-based applications and animation, by automatically setting the preference in its Chrome browser to use HTML5 in all but 10 websites starting later this year.

Chrome will now ask users if they'd prefer to use Flash or not on websites that the browser can't switch intuitively. If the user opts for Flash, Google will earmark that site to employ Flash in the future.

Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, and Yahoo are among the 10 major websites on which Chrome will continue to use Flash automatically.

However, Google noted this whitelist would expire after one year, and the company would also periodically revisit the list throughout the year to remove sites whose usage no longer warrants an exception.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Chrome will also be adding policy controls so that business can select the appropriate experience for their users, which will include the ability to completely disable the feature.

"While Flash historically has been critical for rich media on the web, today in many cases HTML5 provides a more integrated media experience with faster load times and lower power consumption," Anthony LaForge, technical program manager for Chrome at Google, wrote in an online posting explaining the switch. "This change reflects the maturity of HTML5 and its ability to deliver an excellent user experience."

LaForge also noted that Google would continue to work closely with Adobe and other browser vendors to keep moving the Web platform forward, in particular paying close attention to Web gaming.

Flash has been widely criticized for its security holes and susceptibility to new vulnerabilities. The late Steve Jobs published a 1,500-word letter in 2010, essentially calling the platform a relic from the bygone era of PCs and mice.

Complaints about the platform extend beyond security concerns.

In June 2015, Google announced it would intelligently pause content -- such as Flash animations -- that aren't central to the Web page, while keeping central content playing without interruption, in an effort to reduce the drain on battery life.

[Read more about the demise of Flash.]

In February, the company announced Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing are going 100% HTML5 as of June 30. Starting then, neither platform will accept uploads of display ads built in Flash, and as of Jan. 2, 2017, neither platform will run ads built in Flash.

The move is intended to "enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices," according to Google.

Mozilla dropped support for Flash around this time last year. Users can still reactivate the feature by selecting the option in Firefox's settings menu, but Firefox's use of Flash has since then been automatically disabled.

Flash isn't the only Adobe platform under siege.

Earlier this year, Adobe issued a statement warning users of some of its products about the dangers of uninstalling QuickTime for Windows, following Apple's decision to end support for the software.

The week before security specialist Trend Micro had released two advisories, ZDI-16-241 and ZDI-16-242, detailing two new, critical vulnerabilities affecting QuickTime for Windows, and explained Apple would no longer be issuing security updates for the product on the Windows.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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