Microsoft joins the anti-Flash camp

Microsoft has indicated that it will join the likes of Apple and Google in the universal crackdown on Adobe Flash.

The company announced on Wednesday that Microsoft Edge will be changed in the forthcoming Windows 10 Creator’s Update to not load Flash whenever possible. Instead it will give a prompt to users, asking if they want to run it. 

Microsoft says that as of next year, “sites that support HTML5 will default to a clean HTML5 experience. In these cases, Flash will not even be loaded, improving performance, battery life and security.” 

“For sites that still depend on Flash, users will have the opportunity to decide whether they want Flash to load and run, and this preference can be remembered for subsequent visits.” 

There will be exemptions for “the most popular sites which rely on Flash today”, so as not to displease users. The company says that it will “actively monitor Flash consumption in Microsoft Edge and will gradually shorten the list of automatic exceptions.” Which can be read as ‘we are paying attention to, and monitoring, the websites you visit’. 

This is hardly a drastic change, and one that Apple introduced to Safari a couple of versions ago. In fact, in the Cupertino-company’s web browser, it is so difficult to use Flash that you have to go to a hidden tab in the application’s preferences and then turn the plug-in for individual sites. Google told advertisers to stop using Flash in ads by January 2nd 2017 after blocking Flash ads from Chrome in September 2015. 

So why all the hate towards Flash?

While it was once the centrepiece of web design, enabling site makers to create dynamic, interactive web interfaces, the plug-in has for long been lambasted as clunky, inefficient and generally not fit for purpose in a world where the much cleaner and more secure HTML 5 exists. 

The Windows 10 Creator’s Update is due next year with Microsoft’s previously advertised ‘early 2017’ now reading simply ‘2017’.

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