Adobe is finally killing Flash—in 2020

Adobe Flash, the software that enabled a nigh-endless array of online gaming experiences (some of them quite good) and nearly as many security headaches, has been officially consigned by developer Adobe to the dustbin of technological history. That's the good news. The bad news is that it won't actually happen until the year 2020

"Adobe has long played a leadership role in advancing interactivity and creative content—from video, to games and more—on the web," the company wrote in the Flash pre-obituary. "But as open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web. Over time, we’ve seen helper apps evolve to become plugins, and more recently, have seen many of these plugin capabilities get incorporated into open web standards. Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins." 

If the word "deprecating" rings a bell, it's likely because Microsoft used it yesterday to announce the looming slow-drip demise of MS Paint. And that's what's happening here, too: Adobe has decided to "end-of-life Flash," meaning that it will "stop updating and distributing the Flash player at the end of 2020." 

That's a hugely long lead time and on the face of it, it might seem a bit silly to announce the removal of life support so far in advance of the actual event. But there's an awful lot of Flash-reliant content on the net, and it's going to take some time to get it all converted to new and better formats—or at the very least, to get people used to the idea that eventually it's all going to stop working. 

The end of Flash has been a long time coming, and the reality is that most people aren't going to mind. But for those of you who prefer a more upbeat outlook on life, the other way to view this is that we've all just been guaranteed at least three more years of pain-in-the-ass Flash updates and surprise notices that the previous Flash update you installed has left your PC wide open to abuse at the hands of every half-baked hacker on the planet. 

"We remain committed to supporting Flash through 2020, as customers and partners put their migration plans into place," Adobe wrote. "Adobe will continue to support Flash on a number of major OSs and browsers that currently support Flash content through the planned EOL."

Speaking of giving old software the Old Yeller, Microsoft has actually walked back its plan to eliminate MS Paint in the face of strong, if somewhat inexplicable, backlash. Judging by the reaction to the news on Twitter, that doesn't seem likely to happen with Flash.