Flash and Friends On Borrowed Time

Ticking down till the end of days, proprietary plugin Adobe Flash Player is still in use by 6.0% of all websites according to W3Techs.com.

Flash Usage Graph

Flash’s depreciation by all major web browsers, security vulnerabilities, performance problems, and cross-device incompatibility are yet to deter a stubborn minority of users. Yet OTT providers would be advised to leave Flash, and other proprietary plugins such as Silverlight, behind as soon as possible – before Adobe end-of-lifes Flash in 2020 and Microsoft end-of-lifes Silverlight in 2021.

Current State of Play

We first reported on Flash’s impending demise last September, following a security alert from Google’s researchers that could allow hackers to remotely control Windows OS computers. On average, Adobe has handled 10 security vulnerabilities concerning Flash a month since September 2016, with 91.3% of these vulnerabilities deemed critical according to data from CVE Details.

Microsoft’s Silverlight has fallen much further in this time, now in use across just 0.1% of websites, primarily due to NPAPI support being dropped by all major browsers except Safari.

State of browser plugin behavior (as of October 2017)

Browser Flash support Silverlight support HTML5 support
Chrome

Chrome

2017-2019: Asks permission to run, eventually disabling Flash by default.

2020: Support removed.

Source: Google Chrome Blog

Silverlight is not supported

(Chrome 45 fully dropped NPAPI support)
HTML5/EME via Google Widevine CDM
Firefox

Firefox®

2017: User chooses which sites activate Flash.
Firefox for Android: removal of support.

2018: Request permission for each session.

Early 2019: Will display special warning for sites that use Flash.

Late 2019: Disabled by default.

2020: Support removed.

Sources: Flash End of Life Roadmap from Firefox Blog and Plugin Roadmap from Mozilla Developer Blog
Silverlight is not supported (Firefox 52 fully dropped NPAPI support) HTML5/EME via Google Widevine CDM
Safari

Safari®

Disabled by default with permission requested before running.

Source: Webkit.org Blog
HTML5/EME via Apple FairPlay Streaming CDM
Microsoft Edge

Edge

2017-2018: Requires permission to run on most sites on first visit.

Mid to late 2018: Will request permission for each session.

2019: Disabled by default. When re-enabled, will require approval on a site-by-site basis.

2020: Support removed.

Source: Windows Blog
Silverlight is not supported HTML5/EME via Microsoft PlayReady CDM
Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer® * (Lifecycle info)

2017-2018: Plays regularly.

2019: Disabled by default. When re-enabled, will require approval on a site-by-site basis.

2020: Support removed.

Source: Windows Blog

Plays regularly

2021: Support removed.

HTML5/EME via Microsoft PlayReady CDM (IE11 on Win 8.1+ only)

* Only Internet Explorer 11 continues to receive support on Windows 7-10 – source.

In a nutshell, all major browsers refuse to load Flash objects as default and Flash’s contemporary Silverlight is almost extinguished.

Some video streaming services to this day continue to rely on outdated plugins for playback. As legacy compatibility dwindles, modern browsers are increasingly not able to play content from these services. This leads to an alienated user-base as it is becomes difficult for customers to consume content from obsolete player technology. A move towards HTML5-based playback is inevitable to retain audiences.

Stop the clock! Move to HTML5

Streaming services continue to adopt HTML5 standards for video playback, moving away from legacy technologies – and for good reason. You too can make the switch, benefiting from improved video performance and enhanced compatibility with user devices.

Modernizing your playback technology through our PRESTOplay video player SDK for Browsers allows you to retain your DRM-encrypted MPEG-DASH and HLS content formats for use in HTML5 with zero fileset modifications needed.

PRESTOplay for Desktops

Native Windows and macOS Desktop Apps

Want to reach Windows and macOS users with modern HTML5/JS/CSS playback technology as standalone OS apps? Check our PRESTOplay SDK for Desktops.

Posted: 2 Nov 2017

Share: Twitter LinkedIn Facebook Google+

Posted by

Mark Whiley

Mark Whiley
Communications and Events
LinkedIn Twitter