One of the web's oldest — and sometimes maligned — names, Adobe Flash, finally has an expiration date.

Adobe has announced 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.

Adobe Flash

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.