Adobe Flash Is Actually Going to Die This Time, For Real

Illustration for article titled Adobe Flash Is Actually Going to Die This Time, For Real
Photo: Adobe

Three years ago, long after the rise (and fall) of Flash, Adobe announced that its once-ubiquitous multimedia platform was finally going away. But Adobe never provided a specific date for when Flash would reach its end-of-life. Now we know: Adobe Flash is going to officially die on December 31, 2020.

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While younger folks should be forgiven for not knowing about Flash, during the late 90s, and into the 2000s, huge swaths of the internet relied on Flash to add interactivity to websites in the form of animations, games, and even videos. In fact, in its early days, YouTube relied almost entirely on Flash to serve up streaming videos to millions of people around the world.

However, that changed in the latter half of the 2000s thanks to the rise of more powerful open-source platforms, like HTML 5 and CSS 3, and the need for a more efficient standard designed to run on mobile phones. Adobe Flash (or Macromedia Flash as it was known before Adobe bought it out in 2005) quickly began to lose its appeal. And that’s before you get into the numerous security problems often caused by exploits in Flash.

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Then in 2010, Steve Jobs signaled the beginning of the end for Flash when he posted an open letter explaining why Apple would not be supporting Flash on the iPad, iPhone, or any future products. Ever since products and sites, like the Flash-reliant Newgrounds, have been working to replace Flash or implement workarounds so as to ween themselves off a once-useful but now outdated platform. That brings us to today, where stumbling upon something that still needs Flash to run feels like calling up a friend using a rotary phone.

While Flash won’t just vanish into thin air on December 31, Adobe says that it will stop distributing and updating Flash. Critically, that also means Flash won’t be getting any further security or privacy patches.

For a software platform that lasted more than two decades and played a huge part in the Dot-com bubble of the late 90s and early 2000s, Flash lasted a lot longer than most people probably ever expected. So pour one out for the software that brought us wonderful time-wasters like YTMND and Homestar Runner. It’s been real, but it’s time to go.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

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I recall the early days of Flash, where incompatible versions were being released at a break-neck pace; the kind of pace that my little dial-up connection made painful. Nothing like spending 20-30 minutes getting a fat download of the latest update to get to the 20 second website interaction I wanted to have or the 30 second animation I wanted to see.

The thing is, it never really got better; it moved from being a constant annoyance with versions, to a basic threat to computer users.