Adobe Flash, the multimedia software platform that powered so many pre-YouTube animated videos like Homestar Runner, is officially ancient technology. As of December 31, 2020, Adobe stopped supporting the software, and now Microsoft is telling every Windows 10 user it’s time to ditch it if they haven’t already.
A new Windows 10 update from Microsoft, currently available via its Update Catalog, permanently removes Flash from the operating system according to Windows Latest, but only for Windows 10 versions 1903 and earlier and several versions of Windows Server. The same patch will roll out over Windows Update over the next month or so, and will be available via the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) sometime in early 2021. (The update is also supposed to be available for version 1909, but it’s unclear why that version’s patch doesn’t appear on the Update Catalog page.) At first, the update will be optional, but then it will be moved to the recommended updates a few months after.
Applying the update will only remove the Adobe Flash Player that was installed by your version of Windows—not if you installed it manually from another source, says Microsoft. Once the update is applied, Adobe Flash will be removed from the Control Panel and Windows 10 users will not be able to roll back the update. Users can also uninstall Flash via Adobe’s website.
If you absolutely must re-install Flash again, you’ll need to reset your device to an earlier system restore point. If you don’t have a restore point, be sure to make one before you apply the Flash-removal update.
By the end of the month, Microsoft will have also removed Adobe Flash Player from the its new Edge browser. “Beginning in January 2021, Adobe Flash Player will be disabled by default and all versions older than KB4561600 released in June 2020 will be blocked. Downloadable resources related to Adobe Flash Player that are hosted on Microsoft websites will no longer be available,” said Microsoft.
Microsoft Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer 11 users should have received their last Adobe Flash security update in or prior to December 2020, as well. Google Chrome has already ditched Flash, along with Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Safari stopped supporting Flash in September 2020 with version 14. If you try to download the Flash plug-in from Adobe’s website, your browser will now prevent you from doing so.
Additionally, Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021 to “help secure users’ systems,” it says. Since macOS and Windows will no longer receive Flash security updates, it makes sense to do that considering it’s now a defunct piece of tech.
First developed by FutureWave before being acquired by Macromedia and then Adobe, Flash was the go-to way to embed fancy animations, video players, and videogames on websites during the late 90s and early 2000s. It paved the way for fully immersive, interactive websites that are the norm today. But the proliferation of bigger and better platforms like HTML5, OpenFL, and Unity slowly started to make Flash feel out-of-date. Adobe re-branded its Flash authoring environment as Adobe Animate in 2015 to expand support for HTML5 and encourage developers to build with new web standards instead of Flash.
The majority of what you come across on a website today isn’t Flash but HTML5 or another open standard that takes far less time to render webpages. Not only are modern authoring environments dramatically less CPU-intensive, but something like HTML5 doesn’t need a browser plug-in to work, unlike Flash. HTML5 works natively with all browsers, and it’s SEO-friendly, too.
Adobe will continue its support for Animate—and in case you were wondering, Homestar Runner is still alive and kicking. Also, the Internet Archive has already preserved over 1,000 flash items, including classics like Badger, All your base are belong to us, and Peanut Butter Jelly Time. I didn’t see Salad Fingers on the list, but there’s already a bunch of episodes on David Finch’s YouTube channel.