Adobe has announced that by 2020 it will end updating and distributing its Flash Player plugin, which has been entertaining and annoying web users in almost equal measure since 1996.

The death of Flash, which Adobe announced on its website, will usher in an end to a controversial piece of software that helped shape interactivity on the internet – while also being a target of ire when it came to usability, privacy and security.

In its statement, Adobe claims that open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have brought similar features to the internet without the need to be installed as plugins – thereby making Adobe Flash Player redundant.

Because of that, Adobe, along with its technology partners that include Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, is planning to cease work on the software.

Flash in the pan

While some websites still rely on the Flash Player plugin to display animations and games, a growing number have switched to using less resource-intensive open standards that won’t slow down their visitor’s devices, or bug them to install additional software, as the Flash Player currently does.

While it enjoyed a golden age from 1996 to the early 2000s, when interactivity on websites began to change the face of the internet, Flash’s stock has fallen in recent years due to a number of high profile security and privacy issues that made many people wary of installing the software.

So, despite helping to shape the web as we know it for the past 21 years, you will likely not see a mass outpouring of grief for Flash’s demise. In our view, this is a positive step that will make browsing the internet more secure, faster and more user friendly.

As for websites that still use Flash, Adobe will continue to support Flash until 2020, while encouraging websites to migrate existing Flash content to the open formats.

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