Firefox 85 hammers the final nail into the Adobe Flash coffin
With Mozilla’s release of Firefox 85 on Tuesday, Adobe’s once ubiquitous Flash technology is really gone for good. The software had been widely used to expand gaming, video and animation on the web though Adobe stopped supporting it at the end of 2020. Firefox was the last major browser to support Flash.
Apple, whose former late boss Steve Jobs helped sink Flash by banning it from iPhones and iPads, ditched Flash with Safari 14 in September 2020. Google Chrome, the most widely used browser, completely excised it on Jan. 19 with version 88. Microsoft’s Edge 88 followed suit on Jan. 21.
The schedule of removals shows just how hard it is to advance technology foundations as widely used as the web. Browser makers for years wanted to remove Flash, replacing it with more advanced standards built directly into the web. Jobs’ “Thoughts on Flash” letter in 2010 solidified the opposition, and Adobe started recognizing the software’s doom by scrapping the Android version of Flash in 2011.
It’s taken years of effort to drop Flash completely. Adobe took until 2017 to announce that Flash would be completely unsupported at the end of 2020, and still some are willing to jump through lots of hoops to keep Flash around a little longer.
Software company Macromedia developed the Flash Player browser plugin in the 1990s and tools to help developers create Flash content. Flash eased the difficulties of video and audio on the web, paving the way for sites like YouTube.
Flash also powered countless online games and improved graphics and animation, expanding what developers could do during a time when development of web standards had largely stalled. Its browser plug-in design meant the same software worked on lots of browsers, including Microsoft’s dominant but lagging Internet Explorer.
But Flash’s success was overshadowed by its problems, notably security risks and power consumption. When Apple booted Flash from iPhones and then iPads, it undermined a key Flash promise: the ability for developers to write “cross-platform” software that ran on a variety of computing devices.
Now, Flash is no more, and browser blog posts and release notes make the finality of the decision clear.
“There is no setting available to re-enable Flash support,” Mozilla said.