Sometimes it does not feel like “moving on” without leaving something behind and, as far as the Internet is concerned, 2021 is the year we are all abandoning Flash officially and irrevocably. Flash animation was one of those unique technologies that truly transformed content and interactivity on the Web in the 1995–2005 decade, making boring static pages more interesting and — in time — offering a complete authoring toolset based on which one could put studio-quality presentations and interfaces on pages available to anyone on the planet.
Adobe, after acquiring Macromedia in 2005, made a lot of money with Flash for a few years pushing it as a total Web authoring solution — but this technology started outstaying its welcome around 2008 by being too demanding on system resources and a constant security weak spot for devices of all kinds. Still, it was not until Steve Jobs famously slammed Adobe (a long-time Apple partner no less) publicly over Flash and denied it access to iOS in 2010 that the Web industry truly distanced itself from this tech. HTML5 was already gaining ground in previous years in order to replace Flash in every Web application that mattered and, well, after 2010 and the ascent of smartphones it was only a matter of time.
Now Microsoft is getting ready to put the final nail in Flash’s coffin. Users with access to the preview versions of cumulative Windows 10 updates will get the KB4577586 update (“Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player”) in June as part of the July update for versions 1809 and above. In July this specific update will be added to the final version of that month’s cumulative update for Windows 10 (versions 1607 and 1507) and to all other supported Windows versions (all the way back to Windows 8.1) soon after.
All these updates being mandatory (the user will have to install them at one point or another) means that this is the end of Flash for modern computers. Adobe itself has officially ended support for Flash in December, so people holding on to older Windows PCs — hello there, 100 million people using Windows XP! — should get the hint and uninstall Flash themselves if they haven’t done so already. Windows 10 users who’d rather not wait until July to get rid of Flash can do so right now by deploying the KB4577586 update from this page (just make sure to get the correct version for your system).
Very few among us would probably like to get back to the days of garish Flash animations and ads on every website (let alone the intros…), but Adobe’s tech remains an interesting, important part of the World Wide Web’s history nonetheless. It’s just as well, then, that this legacy tech will live on as an exhibit thanks to the preservation efforts of the Internet Archive. On this page, one can find around 3500 Flash games, animations and other types of media in order to get a taste of what people used Adobe’s tech way back then. So long, Flash, and thanks for all the frames!