Those of you who are old enough to remember browsing the web in the later 90s and early 2000s will no doubt remember how Adobe Flash was a game-changer. It let websites embed interactive elements, with basic games, videos, and other media being easily shared online, without being too taxing on the limited bandwidth connections that were available at the time. It served a great purpose and helped to build a web that was more sophisticated than pages made out of simple images and text.
Perhaps the first nail in the coffin was when Apple famously refused to offer any kind of support for Flash on iOS. At the time, Apple’s position was that Flash was buggy, resource and battery intensive, and generally wouldn’t offer a good user experience. With hindsight, I think it’s fair to say that Apple called it right at that time, and Apple refusing to support Flash did ultimately lead to the proliferation of more modern web media standards like HTML5 and WebGL. It was a shame to lose support for many different websites, games, and video functionality on certain websites when using iOS devices, but it helped paved the way for better things to replace Flash.
Today Adobe has announced the date at which point they will no longer be supporting Flash any longer. As it reached End Of Life status, they will be removing the downloads to the Flash installed from their website, and recommending that people uninstall it from their computers. They’re also warning against installing Flash from third party websites, since these are no longer going to be supported, and will likely not be very secure. Given how old and outdated Flash is, there’s plenty of scope for security flaws that could open the gateway to malware, and without Adobe updating it to provide security updates, that gateway will swing wide open. We think it’s probably good advice to remove Flash from your system if you happen to still have it installed.
Flash hasn’t been a major part of the modern internet landscape for a long time, but it will be sad that a certain chunk of web history will be lost as official support for Flash is terminated. Not all hope is lost though, as the BlueMaxima Flashpoint project seeks to archive as many Flash games as possible and preserve them in a manner that keeps them accessible to modern systems. It’s perhaps unavoidable that a certain portion of internet history will be lost to the ether, as the infrastructure it was built on top of collapses.
The exact date Flash will be transitioned to End Of Life status is December 31st, 2020. As the sun rises in 2021, Adobe Flash will become nothing more than a memory. This date is keeping with their announcement in 2017 that they would only be supporting Flash for 3 more years. It’s a shame to see such a significant part of early internet infrastructure vanish into thin air, even if it has outlived most of its practical usage. Here’s to you, Flash, and thanks for all the memories.