Flash Player finally retired
Adobe Flash Player, the browser plug-in that brought rich animations and interactivity to the early web, has officially reached the end of its life – Flash Player finally retired. Released in 1996, Flash was once one of the most popular ways for people to stream videos and play games online. But it was plagued with security problems and failed to transition to the smartphone era.
Adobe will no longer offer security updates for Flash and has urged people to uninstall it. It will also stop videos and animations running in its Flash Player from 12 January. Flash was about more than just animations – it also let websites such as YouTube stream high-quality video.
By 2009, Adobe said Flash was installed on 99% of internet-connected desktop PCs. But by then the world was shifting towards mobile devices and Adobe was slow to react. “We had optimised for lower-end phones with Flash Lite,”
explains David Mendels, former executive vice president of products at Adobe.
“It was incredibly successful in places like Japan, but it wasn’t the same as the full desktop Flash. It wasn’t fully compatible.”
Since Adobe will prevent Flash Player from displaying content from 12 January, there are concerns that years of animations, games and interactive websites will be lost. Gaming company Zynga closed the original version of its FarmVille video game on New Year’s Eve after 11 years, as it relied on Flash to run. If you do need help, get in touch and I can give you advice and help.
An open, collaborative project known as Ruffle is working to develop software that can play Flash content in a web browser, without requiring a plug-in. The Internet Archive is currently hosting more than 2,000 items. Its collection includes episodes of Salad Fingers, although David Firth has posted official copies on YouTube, which he considers to have been a “Flash killer”.
As time went on and YouTube offered higher and higher-quality video formats, there was simply no reason to post in the Flash format,” he explained.
But since Flash was also used for interactive websites and games, there was “every reason to preserve the format”, he told the BBC.