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article imageMicrosoft Edge joins Google Chrome, to block Flash automatically

By James Walker     Apr 8, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has announced that a future version of its Edge web browser will disable non-essential Flash content by default. The move will speed up web browsing and increase security. Flash is regularly hit by critical exploits, including one this week.
Microsoft announced yesterday that Edge will "intelligently auto-pause content" that isn't a key part of the webpage. It came just a day after Adobe rushed to patch another "critical" Flash bug being actively exploited by hackers.
The new version of Edge will roll out to users later this summer as part of Windows 10's Anniversary Update. It is available to Windows Insiders in preview form in Windows 10 build 14316.
Microsoft classes "non-essential content" as anything that isn't central to the webpage. This includes peripheral animations and advertisements. Edge will detect Flash content that isn't the website's main focus and disable it. Content such as video players and games in the body of the page will remain enabled to ensure webpages don't become unusable.
All other Flash media will be automatically kept in a paused state. It will be re-enabled only if the user explicitly clicks it, allowing it to load and execute as normal. Microsoft says the new approach will "significantly" reduce power consumption on mobile devices and will increase webpage performance across PCs, laptops and tablets.
The move follows a similar effort from Google announced last June. Google Chrome now blocks non-essential Flash content in the same way as Edge will, intelligently pausing intrusive advertisements and animations to increase performance.
"Peripheral content like animations or advertisements built with Flash will be displayed in a paused state unless the user explicitly clicks to play that content," said Microsoft. "This significantly reduces power consumption and improves performance while preserving the full fidelity of the page. Flash content that is central to the page, like video and games, will not be paused."
Microsoft joined Google in calling on web developers to move away from Flash and adopt newer technologies that are faster, less power hungry and more secure. Flash has become an easy target for hackers and is frequently hit by zero-day vulnerabilities.
Adobe released a patch today for a critical issue discovered earlier this week. The company found the bug after hackers had already begun exploiting it, leaving users at risk of having their computer hijacked. The company's security advisory came just three weeks after the last critical vulnerability. It was also being exploited by hackers before Adobe found it.
Microsoft said it is planning to introduce further restrictions on Flash content in Edge in the future. It is developing methods to let users take control of media that is an important element of the page, increasing performance and security wherever possible. "We are planning for and look forward to a future where Flash is no longer necessary as a default experience in Microsoft Edge," said John Hazen, Principal Program Manager Lead for Microsoft Edge.
More about Microsoft, microsoft edge, Adobe, Flash, Web browser
 
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