Tech giant Google has unveiled plans to block Adobe Flash Player by the end of the year in order to make HTML5 the default in its Chrome browser.
The vast majority of the web will not run Adobe Flash Player by the fourth quarter of this year if Google’s initiative goes to plan. The only exception will be the world’s top ten sites that still rely on Flash as their default media player.
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Use of Adobe Flash Player to be discouraged under new plan
However Flash will still be bundled with Chrome for the meantime. The difference is that the browser will not automatically load Flash Player on those sites that require it.
Users will now have to authorize each site that they want Flash to load for, and the preference will be stored in Chrome. This means that you won’t have to authorize Flash each time you visit a particular site.
The plan was outlined in a presentation named ‘HTML5 by Default’, in which Google specifies that the list of 10 excepted sites will expire after 12 months. It seems likely that there will be no exceptions made after that point, and users will have to select every single site that they want to use Flash.
By encouraging HTML5 as default, Google is moving into the next stage of its plan to move web pages away from Flash. The media player is a huge source of vulnerabilities for desktop users.
Security vulnerabilities make Flash a risk
These risks have been reduced by bundling Flash with Chrome, which means that users are forced to update Flash Player as soon as a patch is released by Adobe. Just last week the company patched its third zero-day flaw in three months, which meant that hackers found a way to exploit security weaknesses before Adobe had a patch.
Last year Google made Chrome automatically pause non-central Flash content. Google has also been pressurizing the online ad industry to work with HTML5 to display ads instead of Flash.
The plan to move into a “100 percent HTML5” world was announced last year, when executives said the move would be made by 2 January 2017. From that date onward there will be no Flash display ads on ad networks.
Google wields huge influence online
Adobe itself has also announced that it will be moving towards HTML5. Google also revealed that the new HTML5 by Default framework will allow enterprises to activate an “Always run Flash content” setting. Individual users will also have the option to activate that setting in Content Settings in Chrome.
Google has a huge amount of leverage online due to the popularity of its Chrome browser. There are plenty of stats floating around which claim to have worked out which browser is the most popular, but the latest figures from the U.S. federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) seem the most reliable.
The data includes a running count of which browser was used by each visitor to government websites over the past 90 days. Figures from April show that Google Chrome was the most popular browser with 2.05 billion visitors, or 43.1% of the total. It was twice as popular as Apple’s Safari browser, which had 21.9% of the total.
Internet Explorer came in third with 20.1%. This goes to show that what Google does with Chrome will have a major influence online.