Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Image: Sam Rutherford

Adobe Flash officially reached end of life at the end of 2020, and now Microsoft is removing Flash from Windows 10 this summer.

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While Microsoft had already started to remove support for Flash from a number of its apps, including its Edge browser, there is still some native support for Adobe’s Flash Player built into Windows 10 itself, which Microsoft is now planning to remove via Windows Update KB4577586: “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player.”

In a recent update to a previous blog post on the matter, Microsoft said it will begin sending out the patch to remove Adobe Flash from Windows 10 starting in June, first to users who are part of Microsoft’s Preview program before the patch becomes a mandatory update in July. Microsoft says that going forward, all systems running Windows 10 version 21H1 or later will have Flash removed by default.

In addition to removing native Flash support from Windows 10, Microsoft is also planning on removing Flash from older versions of Windows as well, including Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. And in case you don’t want to wait for June, you can also remove Flash from Windows 10 manually by downloading and installing the KB4577586 update from the Microsoft Update Catalog here.

Adobe Flash has been on its way out for the past several years, so it makes sense for Microsoft to do a final pass and remove native support for Flash from Windows 10, thereby eliminating all the security issues often associated with Adobe’s outdated multimedia format.

However, for those feeling nostalgic about Flash games from days gone by, you can still play a number of titles using the Internet Archive. And if you don’t find the specific game you’re looking for, you can also try apps like BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, which is essentially a multi-platform Flash emulator for Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs.

Depending on which install you choose and what OS you’re on, Flashpoint even comes with a library of more than 38,000 old Flash games (the total file size for Flashpoint Ultimate 9.0 is a whopping 532GB), providing you with a wealth of content from a previous generation of the internet.

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Flash is dead; long live Flash.

Firefox 85 Ditches Flash and Boosts Privacy Protections

Illustration for article titled Firefox 85 Ditches Flash and Boosts Privacy Protections

Photo: LEON NEAL / Staff (Getty Images)

Do you hear that? It’s the last dying breaths of Adobe Flash, which might finally be rendered obsolete by Mozilla’s release of Firefox 85 on Tuesday.

Up until now, Firefox had been the last of the old guard to support Flash. Apple first dissed the software in 2010 by banning it from iPhones and then again in 2020 by refusing to support it with Safari 14, and Google and Microsoft both jettisoned it earlier this year with the releases of Chrome version 88 and Edge 88, respectively. Although the software was an early pioneer for gaming, video and animation on the web, Adobe had previously announced a long-term strategy to halt updates to and distribution of the Flash Player, encouraging creators to migrate any reliant content over to the more modern open formats.

In addition to some notable omissions, Firefox 85 has also added some interesting new features, including network partitioning that works to protect users from supercookie tracking by splitting the browser cache on a per-website basis.

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“Over the years, trackers have been found storing user identifiers as supercookies in increasingly obscure parts of the browser, including in Flash storage, ETags, and HSTS flags,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post. “The changes we’re making in Firefox 85 greatly reduce the effectiveness of cache-based supercookies by eliminating a tracker’s ability to use them across websites.”

Other big additions include changes to how bookmarked pages are stored within the browser and an option to remove all saved credentials by clicking a single button, which could make life easier for users who share a computer or need to clear out their browser for privacy reasons.

Windows 10 Update Will Get Rid of Flash Once and for All

Illustration for article titled Windows 10 Update Will Get Rid of Flash Once and for All

Screenshot: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

Adobe Flash, the multimedia software platform that powered so many pre-YouTube animated videos like Homestar Runner, is officially ancient technology. As of December 31, 2020, Adobe stopped supporting the software, and now Microsoft is telling every Windows 10 user it’s time to ditch it if they haven’t already.

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A new Windows 10 update from Microsoft, currently available via its Update Catalog, permanently removes Flash from the operating system according to Windows Latest, but only for Windows 10 versions 1903 and earlier and several versions of Windows Server. The same patch will roll out over Windows Update over the next month or so, and will be available via the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) sometime in early 2021. (The update is also supposed to be available for version 1909, but it’s unclear why that version’s patch doesn’t appear on the Update Catalog page.) At first, the update will be optional, but then it will be moved to the recommended updates a few months after.

Applying the update will only remove the Adobe Flash Player that was installed by your version of Windows—not if you installed it manually from another source, says Microsoft. Once the update is applied, Adobe Flash will be removed from the Control Panel and Windows 10 users will not be able to roll back the update. Users can also uninstall Flash via Adobe’s website.

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If you absolutely must re-install Flash again, you’ll need to reset your device to an earlier system restore point. If you don’t have a restore point, be sure to make one before you apply the Flash-removal update.

By the end of the month, Microsoft will have also removed Adobe Flash Player from the its new Edge browser. “Beginning in January 2021, Adobe Flash Player will be disabled by default and all versions older than KB4561600 released in June 2020 will be blocked. Downloadable resources related to Adobe Flash Player that are hosted on Microsoft websites will no longer be available,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer 11 users should have received their last Adobe Flash security update in or prior to December 2020, as well. Google Chrome has already ditched Flash, along with Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Safari stopped supporting Flash in September 2020 with version 14. If you try to download the Flash plug-in from Adobe’s website, your browser will now prevent you from doing so.

Additionally, Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021 to “help secure users’ systems,” it says. Since macOS and Windows will no longer receive Flash security updates, it makes sense to do that considering it’s now a defunct piece of tech.

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First developed by FutureWave before being acquired by Macromedia and then Adobe, Flash was the go-to way to embed fancy animations, video players, and videogames on websites during the late 90s and early 2000s. It paved the way for fully immersive, interactive websites that are the norm today. But the proliferation of bigger and better platforms like HTML5, OpenFL, and Unity slowly started to make Flash feel out-of-date. Adobe re-branded its Flash authoring environment as Adobe Animate in 2015 to expand support for HTML5 and encourage developers to build with new web standards instead of Flash.

The majority of what you come across on a website today isn’t Flash but HTML5 or another open standard that takes far less time to render webpages. Not only are modern authoring environments dramatically less CPU-intensive, but something like HTML5 doesn’t need a browser plug-in to work, unlike Flash. HTML5 works natively with all browsers, and it’s SEO-friendly, too.

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Adobe will continue its support for Animate—and in case you were wondering, Homestar Runner is still alive and kicking. Also, the Internet Archive has already preserved over 1,000 flash items, including classics like Badger, All your base are belong to us, and Peanut Butter Jelly Time. I didn’t see Salad Fingers on the list, but there’s already a bunch of episodes on David Finch’s YouTube channel.

Declaring Flash Dead Is Dead

As 2020 comes to a close, do you find yourself noticing that nothing ever seems to end? Is the election still going? Are we still fighting about Star Wars? The Supreme Court’s looking at Obamacare, you say? Every little topic just seems to go on and on. Well, friends, allow me to inform you that something has genuinely happened.

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On Tuesday, Adobe finally said goodbye to Flash. Yes, Flash has been dying for about a decade and there have been some false flags along its path to the graveyard. Every time we thought we’d reached the end, the software platform just kept existing even if it had virtually disappeared from usage. Now, Adobe has provided a brief eulogy for its stalwart product and confirmed that it will no longer support Flash after Dec. 31, and it will start blocking Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning on Jan. 12, 2021.

In the release notes for the final update, Adobe said:

Today marks the final scheduled release of Flash Player for all regions outside of Mainland China. We want to take a moment to thank all of our customers and developers who have used and created amazing Flash Player content over the last two decades. We are proud that Flash had a crucial role in evolving web content across animation, interactivity, audio, and video. We are excited to help lead the next era of digital experiences.

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It’s not exactly Walt Whitman, but it still made us a little misty-eyed. It’s the hackers who took advantage of its security holes who will miss it the most. Adobe urges all users to uninstall Flash now and never install it ever again.

In remembrance, let’s take a stroll through Flash’s decade of dying:

April 29, 2010 – Steve Jobs says Flash sucks and Adobe kills Flash for Apple.

November 9, 2011 – Adobe kills Flash Mobile as the world goes mobile.

November 11, 2011 – Activists call for the world to stop using Flash.

November 13, 2011 – Adobe admits that Apple murdered Flash.

June 8, 2014 – Adobe announces it fixed a huge security flaw in the not-dead parts of Flash.

March 3, 2015 – Holy shit, for the love of god, disable Flash, now!

August 4, 2015 – Flash blamed for Yahoo’s malvertising attack.

December 1, 2015 – Adobe kills the Flash brand.

February 10, 2016 – Google bans Flash from display ads.

July 20, 2016 – Firefox starts aggressively blocking Flash.

July 25, 2017 – Adobe finally kills Flash, all the way, for real.

July 26, 2017 – Flash fans plead with Adobe for the chance to fix its bugs with an open-source resurrection from the dead.

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July 31, 2019 – Google sticks a knife in Flash’s corpse.

June 16, 2020 – Adobe Flash scheduled to die, for real, for real.

November 20, 2020 – Internet Archive launches an initiative to preserve Flash games and animation, the true mark of a dead piece of the internet.

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December 8, 2020 – Adobe says goodbye, and now it’s dead—or at least it will be as of January 12, 2021. But you get the deal, let’s just call it.