Google begins disabling Flash for HTML5 push

December 12, 2016 | 10:55

Tags: #adobe-flash #browser #chromium #flash #flash-player #html5 #web-browser

Companies: #adobe #chrome #google #macromedia

Google has begun its process of effectively phasing out Adobe's Flash Player technology from its popular Chrome browser, beginning with a single percent of its users this week and hitting 100 percent in February 2017.

Formerly Macromedia Flash prior to its acquisition by Adobe, the Flash rich-media format has been a staple of the modern web for years. Sadly, it's also proven a major security hole: Features added to allow interactive and other advanced content have been abused by attackers to gain access to client systems on a regular basis, to the point where Adobe itself has begun shifting away from Flash as a brand. In September 2015 Google announced plans to begin de-emphasising Flash content as a result, beginning with disabling automatic playback of Flash-based advertising. Microsoft's Edge browser followed suit in April this year, and now Google is looking to go still further by blocking all Flash content under the banner 'HTML5 by Default.'

'This change disables Adobe Flash Player unless there’s a user indication that they want Flash content on specific sites, and eventually all websites will require the user’s permission to run Flash,' explained Eric Deily in a blog post for Chromium, the open-source project on which Google's Chrome browser is built. 'To ensure a smooth transition, not all users and sites will be affected immediately.'

From today, one percent of users of Chrome 55, the latest stable release of Google's browser, will find Flash content automatically disabled. Providing this test roll-out, which is joined by 50 percent of users trialling Chrome 56 Beta, is successful, Google's plan is to enable HTML5 by Default as standard in the stable release of Chrome 56 in February 2017.

'Starting in January users will be prompted to run Flash on a site-by-site basis for sites that they have never visited before. We want to avoid over-prompting users, so over time we’ll tighten this restriction using Site Engagement Index, a heuristic for how much a user interacts with a site based on their browsing activity. In October all sites will require user permission to run Flash,' explained Deily. 'As sites transition from Flash to HTML5, this change will no longer affect them and the entire web will become faster, more secure and power-efficient.'
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