Adobe plans to finally kill Flash by 2020 as Microsoft details gradual phase-out

Adobe Flash logo on red background
Adobe Flash logo on red background (Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe has announced (opens in new tab) that it is finally preparing to pull the plug on one of the most maligned names across the internet: Flash. The company says that it will stop updating and distributing Flash Player by the end of 2020.

In addition to Adobe's announcement, Microsoft took to a separate post to outline its plans in the lead-up to Flash's demise. Specifically, for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge, Microsoft will gradually phase out support for Flash over the next few years, culminating in dropping support entirely in 2020. From Microsoft:

  • Through the end of 2017 and into 2018, Microsoft Edge will continue to ask users for permission to run Flash on most sites the first time the site is visited, and will remember the user's preference on subsequent visits. Internet Explorer will continue to allow Flash with no special permissions required during this time.
  • In mid to late 2018, we will update Microsoft Edge to require permission for Flash to be run each session. Internet Explorer will continue to allow Flash for all sites in 2018.
  • In mid to late 2019, we will disable Flash by default in both Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Users will be able to re-enable Flash in both browsers. When re-enabled, Microsoft Edge will continue to require approval for Flash on a site-by-site basis.
  • By the end of 2020, we will remove the ability to run Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer across all supported versions of Microsoft Windows. Users will no longer have any ability to enable or run Flash.

Microsoft's plan lines up with other similar plans by Google, Mozilla and Apple — all of which have already begun limiting Flash to some extent in their browsers.

Despite its role in bringing rich content to the web, Flash has faded out of favor over time as it has gained a reputation for security woes and its impact on battery life. At the same time, other standards, such as HTML5, have become widely supported and adopted. Flash is still widely used across certain portions of the web, but a 2020 end-of-life date should ensure an ample transition period.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

37 Comments
  • Is it similar to what is happening with Java?
  • Considering Android apps are built with Java and many sites are powered by GRAILS and GROOVY, Java is still growing strong. What's gone are those clunky Java applets that people used to plug into their websites.
  • well... place I work (a major gam dev wz 4xxx employees) now transitioning their server tech to C# (+ Visual Studio)
  • Hip hip HOORAY! Hip hip HOORAY!
  • Why wait? Just kill it and force companies to switch to html5
  • Adobe has huge enterprise contracts that would be cost prohibitive to reneg on. This is not even remotely an option.
  • Makes sense. So the contracts must be up in 2019
  • I have little to no idea what adobe flash actually is or does all I know is that Steve jobs hated it
  • Something about a blind squirrel.
  • There could be an entirely new platform by 2020.
  • Internet explorer in wp 8.1 didnt have flash
  • IE/Edge in any WM/WP didn't have Flash AFAIK.
  • I'll finally know Flash is dead when all of the porn sites stop using it ;)
  • Porn is all VR nowadays ;-)
  • That is too risky.  Who knows who is watching you while you are living large in PornVR
  • LMAO!😂
  • "a 2020 end-of-life date should ensure an ample transition period." Like how people were given advance warning that Windows XP was going away and they properly planned for it?
  • Same with Windows 7.
  • Transition to what?
    HTML5 is already in place. It is now left for individuals/corporations that rely on adobe flash player on their web sites to redesign it to HTML5,
  • Good riddance is right! 👍
  • Finally, its taken them long enough!!!! Just disabled it in Edge right now.
  • Nevermind. Read your comment wrong. :/
  • 2020?  That's funny.    Doesn't  matter.  I quit using it a long while ago.  
  • This will NOT be enough time for the mid-sized Enterprises to get all the Flash out of their home-grown and especially 3rd-party applications, many of which are BASED on Flash. ERP systems, accounting tools, engineering applications, there are lots of things that rely on it that will NOT be able to be re-engineered as the company that wrote it (or in the case of in-house developed, person(s) that wrote it) are either out of business or no longer work there.
    I see lots of "upgrade contracts" being sold due to this (or maybe MS will offer to support it in AZURE to drive companies to that platform?) Microsoft will rue the day they embedded Flash into their Browsers as their Enterprise Customers will demand they continue to support it a la WIndows XP. 3 years is not enough time to fix all the issues with it either.
  • "3 years is not enough to fix..." If not by now, they will never get rid of the errors and holes. That's why it's got to go.
  • 3 years in IT is a lot IMO. And if they still really can't switch to something else, flash will still be usable afterwards.
  • It will only be usable if you don't update your browser. Doing that will create a whole lot of security issues. However, if you are still using flash after their support ends, security might not be your highest priority. Flash is pretty bad now. Imagine what will happen when it isn't supported anymore. 
  • Microsoft never decided to embed Flash. Macromedia decided to develop the plugin, Adobe later decides to buy Macromedia, Microsoft decided to keep Flash updated.
  • if you are using software that is no longer supported, that is a bigger problem in and of itself. Catering to companies that can't be bothered to use supported software is *not* the way to go. Three years is also plenty of time as well in my opinion. In any case, its barely Microsoft's decision. Adobe is ending it, not Microsoft.
  • Start converting to html5.
  • While I am glad to see Flash go in favor of HTML5, both can be really good at killing a battery. I run across more and more HTML5 websites that cause my fans to rev up.
  • My name is Macromedia Flash, and I'm the oldest plug-in alive...
  • Macromedia! That's a name I haven't heard in a long time!
  • And yet, COBOL is still in use
  • Firefox has been blocking Flash and Java for some time now but can someone PLEASE tell me what if any alternatives there are that would do what Flash and Java have been doing for us for years? Thanks. o:)
  • HTML 5, I guess
  • I just disabled the flash player my edge browser a while ago.