Isn't Flash dead yet?

By James C | Friday, 24 June 2016

Last year, in the blog post Is Flash Dead, we speculated that Google might have killed Flash. It seemed like a reasonable assumption. After all, the tech giant has made no secret of preferring HTML5, and with AdWords and Doubleclick phasing out Flash, it was badly injured.

Things haven't got much better for the embattled plugin.

Microsoft has bad news for Flash: the Energy Estimation Engine service in Windows 10 will give the Edge web browser a much needed battery life boost for laptops. Why is this bad? Edge will pause Flash content, like ads and animations, that are considered to not be central to the browsing experience.

This news from Microsoft follows Mozilla's stated position that they will "continue to work with developers to encourage adoption of safer and more stable technologies, such as HTML5 and Javascript."

It gets worse, with news that Apple's latest release of its Safari browser will pretend Flash doesn't exist.

In the blog post Next Steps for Legacy Plug-ins, Apple explain:

When Safari 10 ships this fall, by default, Safari will behave as though common legacy plug-ins on users' Macs are not installed.
On websites that offer both Flash and HTML5 implementations of content, Safari users will now always experience the modern HTML5 implementation, delivering improved performance and battery life. This policy and its benefits apply equally to all websites; Safari has no built-in list of exceptions. If a website really does require a legacy plug-in, users can explicitly activate it on that website.

Apple plans to do this by not disclosing to websites what plugins Safari has installed. When a website displays a "Flash isn't installed" message with a link to download, and there's not HTML5 option, the browser will give users the option to run Flash either once only, or on every visit.

Adobe knows what way the wind blows, and already shows signs of moving partially away from Flash.

Flash Professional, Adobe's tool for developing animations and multimedia content, was renamed Adobe Animate CC, with a focus on developing HTML5 content while also supporting the creation of Flash content. In further support of HTML5, Adobe announced last month that its Primetime HTML5 player framework would soon be generally available.

However, Adobe isn't sunsetting Flash quite yet.

"HTML5 alone doesn't support everything that broadcasters need in order to manage multiscreen video distribution," the company says, describing it as a partial solution. Similarly, Adobe says it is "committed to working with industry partners, as we have with Microsoft and Google, to help ensure the ongoing compatibility and security of Flash content" and that "while standards like HTML5 will be the web platform of the future across all devices, Flash continues to be used in key categories like web gaming and premium video."

With Apple's Safari choosing to use HTML5 over Flash, joining Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft marginalising the Flash plugin, surely there can't be much life left for the once-speedster plugin Flash?