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Press F to pay respects: The final Flash update is live

Flash
(Image credit: DC Comics)

The final days of Flash are upon us. The end of the venerable software that enabled streaming multimedia content and games was announced in 2017, when Adobe said that it would halt support on December 31, 2020, and with that date now just a few weeks away, the final scheduled Flash Player update (outside of China, which uses a separate, region-specific version) is live.

"Today marks the final scheduled release of Flash Player for all regions outside of Mainland China.  We want to take a moment to thank all of our customers and developers who have used and created amazing Flash Player content over the last two decades.  We are proud that Flash had a crucial role in evolving web content across animation, interactivity, audio, and video.  We are excited to help lead the next era of digital experiences," Adobe wrote in the release notes.

"Adobe will no longer support Flash Player after December 31 2020, and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12 2021; Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems."

It's not exactly "Thus with a kiss, I die," but even so this is a big moment. Flash has been around pretty much forever, and it enabled all sorts of previously impossible online content, from next-level memes like Badger Badger (trust me, this was big stuff back in the day) to countless online games. Indie studio Amanita Design, for one, got its start with the Flash game Samorost in 2003, and sites like Kongregate and Newgrounds were largely built on Flash game libraries.

The loss of Flash support has some sites scrambling to preserve old projects. Newgrounds announced a Flash emulation project in 2019 that uses the Rust programming language, while the Flashpoint initiative and the Internet Archive are also working on preservation projects. So while Flash itself is going away, much of what it enabled over the years will remain. Even so, there's a certain vague sadness to its demise—a sense of techno-loss, if you will—not dissimilar to what I feel every time I start up Winamp. Or is that just a creeping sense of my own morality?

Adobe also warned that some users may continue to see warnings to uninstall Flash after support is ended. Instructions for doing so, and answers to other related questions, are available in the Flash end-of-life FAQ.

(Image credit: DC Comics)