GOOGLE HAS DELIVERED what could be the killer blow for the much maligned Adobe Flash runtime, the aging technology that has been the cause of so many insecurities it probably qualifies for a course of CBT and some Prozac.
From today, the company has turned Flash adverts into static images to protect against potential malicious code injections.
The move, first announced in June, has been trialled in the Beta Channel, and is rolling out to stable browser users from Tuesday.
Most of the web realises that HTML5 is the future, despite what Microsoft will tell you about Silverlight, a platform also not supported by Google, and calls have been mounting to kill off Flash once and for all.
As well as the security aspect, Flash slows down web rendering to an extent unacceptable to modern users. And it kills your battery as a result. And it's just awful. And did we mention the hacking?
Adobe has been on an active campaign to move people onto new alternatives like Adobe Air, but the simplicity and compatibility of HTML5 have made it a losing battle.
Firefox recently blocked Flash by default, and Chrome users will now actively have to choose to animate advertising content, which Chrome will "intelligently select", according to Google. Meanwhile, Amazon has banned Flash advertising for all adverts it hosts.
It will come as a nasty shock to advertisers, the vast majority of which are still using Flash.
Chrome doesn't actually use Adobe Flash, but rather renders using its own Pepper Flash plug-in, but it still doesn't seem to think that safety can be assured.
The option to kill Flash has always been there. Fiddle about under the bonnet of your browser and it has always been possible to deactivate it.
However, it can lead to problems with popular sites - particularly media players. BBC iPlayer on desktop still requires Flash to be activated, though the company has its own proprietary player on mobile devices. We've asked Auntie if it has any plans to roll this out to desktop users soon.
Chrome has already killed off access to some of iPlayer's rivals. The removal of heritage NPAPI (Netscape) protocols earlier in the year led to incompatibilities with BT Sport, Now TV and Sky Player. Sky has been advising customers to use a different browser.
With Chrome and Chromium derivatives now taking up a large chunk of market share, this could be a huge sea change not just for the browser, but for internet advertising as a whole.
Mobile phones have been Flash free for a long time, and it doesn't seem to have done them any harm. Chrome for Android hasn't used Flash for several years, and in doing so has accelerated the decline of this relic of a bygone era.
Flash won't completely die for a while. There are still proprietary systems relying on it. But this one could be the stake in the heart we've been waiting for to make the internet just that little bit less of a crapshoot. But only a little. µ
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