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article imageMicrosoft Edge prepares to block Flash content by default

By James Walker     Dec 15, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft Edge's next public release will disable all Flash media on webpages by default. You'll need to explicitly allow Flash content to play by clicking on a prompt before it starts running. Microsoft said it'll improve security and performance.
The war against Flash by all the major browser vendors is now well-documented. Microsoft isn't alone in gradually moving away from Flash entirely. It is following its industry rivals in first selectively pausing non-essential Flash content and now blocking everything on the page.
The first stage of this work rolled out to users with August's Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Page elements such as adverts and banner graphics that aren't the main content are paused by default. This peripheral Flash media can be turned back on by clicking on the blocked element.
As previously announced in April, Microsoft is now gearing up to launch a new update that extends the blocking to main elements too. This will disable Flash content that could be the main subject of the page, such as a video player or game. Microsoft said the browser will be more secure as a result of the changes. Flash is known to be riddled with vulnerabilities that are frequently exploited in real-world attacks.
Microsoft Edge blocked Flash content override prompt
Microsoft Edge blocked Flash content override prompt
Because Flash is still widely used across the Internet, Microsoft is taking a conservative approach to rolling out the blocking. Initially, the most popular Flash-based sites will continue to work as normal. This will ensure online Flash game providers and video streaming services don't suddenly stop working overnight. In any case, the user will be able to allow Flash content to run even if it is automatically disabled. The changes won't leave any Flash media entirely unusable.
When Edge detects a site that supports HTML5, it will disable Flash and use the HTML5 experience. If a site requires Flash to work, the user will be prompted to "Allow once" or "Always allow" the Flash plugin for that site. The prompt will be displayed as a prominent fly-out beneath Edge's address bar. Google Chrome uses a similar system.
Microsoft encouraged developers to migrate their Flash apps to HTML5-based technology. Flash is currently undergoing a prolonged death phase as it is shunned by developers, browser vendors and increasingly websites. Most major services now offer a full HTML5 experience that doesn't require Flash to run.
Flash came to popularity because it offered an easy way to create interactive and animated material for the Internet at a time when browsers didn't offer these capabilities natively. HTML5 now offers all of Flash's features within a secure sandbox environment.
Because everything runs within the browser, HTML5 content also runs faster and more reliably than Flash while saving significant battery life. These benefits have led to the slow demise of Flash in the past couple of years. Some analysts expect Flash may be gone entirely by the end of this decade.
"Adobe Flash has been an integral part of the web for decades, enabling rich content and animations in browsers since before HTML5 was introduced," said Microsoft. "In modern browsers, web standards pioneered by Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Apple, Mozilla, and many others are now enabling sites to exceed those experiences without Flash and with improved performance and security."
More about microsoft edge, Microsoft, Internet, Browsers, Flash
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