Mozilla announces the end of NPAPI plugins in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 8, 2015
Updated • Oct 8, 2015

Mozilla just announced an updated roadmap for the removal of NPAPI plugin support in Firefox and Firefox ESR. According to information posted by Benjamin Smedberg on the official Mozilla blog, plans are underway to remove NPAPI support by the end of 2016.

There is one exception to the rule and that is Adobe Flash. While support for all other NPAPI plugins is being removed in Firefox at the end of 2016, support for Adobe Flash remains available after that date.

Mozilla notes that "Adobe Flash is still a common part of the Web experience for most users" which is why the organization made the decision to make an exception in the case of Flash.

While Flash support remains available in Firefox after 2016, it is likely that it will be removed at one point in time from the browser.

firefox npapi plugins

Plugins such as Silverlight, Java, Unity and others will stop being supported in Firefox at the end of 2016.

The core reason given by Mozilla for the move is the following one:

Plugins are a source of performance problems, crashes, and security incidents for Web users

Mozilla announced a a close collaboration with Unity to bring Unity-based content directly in the browser without plugin requirement.

Unity announced the deprecation of its Web Player plugin which will be phased out by the company when Unity 5.4 will be released in March 2016.

While existing Web Player content remains accessible, it won't be accessible in browsers that don't support NPAPI. The new way of making content available to Internet users is through WebGL export instead which is currently available as a preview.

Mozilla mentioned furthermore that it is working with Oracle to ensure a smooth transition for websites requiring Java.

Oracle published a blog post today as well which highlights the company's Java transition plans. One option that developers and sites have is Java Web Start which is already included in the Java Runtime Environment.

Mozilla is not the first organization to announce the discontinuation of support for NPAPI plugins. Google announced in 2013 that it would deprecate support for NPAPI and Chrome 45 was the first version of the browser that shipped without support for NPAPI.

While all NPAPI plugins are no longer usable in Chrome, Flash content is still supported through Google's own PPAPI interface.

Microsoft launched its Edge browser for Windows 10 without support for popular plugins as well.

Mozilla plans to launch the 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows without NPAPI support.

The outlook

Firefox users who require plugins that are not Flash won't be able to use them once NPAPI support is removed from the browser. Since it is removed from all versions of Firefox without options to override the change, it will no longer be possible to access sites and apps that require these plugins.

While the count of sites requiring NPAPI plugins will drop further during 2016, it is unlikely that the requirement will be fully eradicated before support is removed.

This leaves users with no choice but to switch to another browser when they need to access plugin content on the Internet.

It is unclear right now if browsers that are based on Firefox code will follow Mozilla's decision and remove NPAPI support as well.

Now You: Do you require NPAPI plugin support? What's your take on the announcement?

Mozilla announces the end of NPAPI plugins in Firefox
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Mozilla announces the end of NPAPI plugins in Firefox
Mozilla just announced that support for NPAPI plugins will be removed from Firefox at the end of 2016.

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  1. zermok said on February 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    I’m still using Perl script I developed 17 years ago,
    and still working like a charm and very fast.
    Why to change every 5 years the protocol to have at the end
    exactly the same wheel?
    absurd. the game concerns always a monopoly, nothing else.
    So guys, let’s’ focus and help small browsers like seamonkey, opera,
    epiphany, konqueror and so on. I’m sure they will continue to support NPAPI

  2. SyKoTiK said on November 19, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    FWIW, this change is only valid for Windows versions of Firefox. Versions of Firefox 42+ on Linux, Mac, BSD, etc. still support Java, Silverlight, Unity, etc.

  3. Andrew said on October 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Remove all plugins from all browsers.
    Run all code in sandboxed processes.
    The web is so dangerous because of running native code and allowing security flaws to control your PC remotely.
    I see a lot of people complaining that their banking system requires “safe” Plugins/ActiveX.
    If your bank is stupid enough to force you to remove native browser security for some obscure black box binary code should you be stupid too and allow them to do that ?
    Binary plugins, ActiveX, unsafe extensions should have been removed years ago.
    Do you need binary code doing “safe” communication that you can’t verify ?
    Install the app and stop lying to yourself, a plugin is an app that makes you think it’s safe and easy.
    Ideally we should never have to trust any binary apps for our daily work unless it’s something your company built.
    Allow JS or something similar to be the platform of choice for safety and better trust or do we have something to hide wile using customer’s info ?

  4. Sds said on October 17, 2015 at 1:22 am

    No Silver light, no Amazon movies?

    1. DonGateley said on October 17, 2015 at 9:14 am

      No IETabs. How else am I going to watch Netflix without opening another browser?

  5. DonGateley said on October 15, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Al, if you like Firefox you might want to give its developer channel a whirl first. I’ve been using it a while and it is robust and outperforms all others I try in all regards. It does send you frequent requests to update as it is further developed but they can be safely ignored until convenient times arise.

  6. Al said on October 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Well, Mozilla has completely crashed on me–I suspect it has something to do with some plugin or another incompatibility, but even a complete reinstall isn’t helping. Seems like a good time to make the switch to a different browser–but which?
    Pale moon is based off of an old version of FF, so many of the plugins I feel I need are not compatible. I don’t want a browser that lacks respect for my personal privacy. What real alternative is there?

  7. Danny Shin said on October 12, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I am seriously starting to wonder what benefits there’ll still remain for using Firefox over Chrome and others, once this cycle of self-stabbing comes to an end some time in 2016.

    Available add-ons will have been decimated (if not worse), all the old plugins will have stopped working except for stupid Flash (why not just integrate it like Chrome then?), and hordes of users would presumably leave the browser in anger. What would still be the point of using FF by that time? Privacy concerns? User-centredness is certainly not one of those considerations any more, seeing how little Mozilla cares about the community’s feedback…

  8. charles kinbote said on October 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    firefox allows you to opt-in trusted sites for flash
    I agree that the greatest online nuisances are popups, flash, and java
    but we’re stuck with them until lazy developers get their act together and switch to html5 which, it appears, is not immune to malware either

  9. DonGateley said on October 10, 2015 at 1:39 am

    God dammit, Martin, again I’m not being logged into this site when I follow a link from your newsletter and there is no button to do it manually. This is not what I’m paying Patreon for.

    On subject, the release before this happens will be the one I freeze at for eternity. I just looked at my plugin list and there are things, many things, I am just not willing to give up.

  10. Torro said on October 10, 2015 at 12:21 am

    ill probably switch yo palemoon or othet branches of firefox

  11. dexos said on October 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    The reason why the flash is better than HTML5 is that it is possible to block loading of all flash object and I can load and run them on-demand. This is the Click-to-play feature. And it doesn’t work for HTML5.

    Unfortunately the Firefox developers and the addon developers are retarded because they doesn’t provide a Click-to-play feature for HTML5.

  12. Moonchild said on October 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Conflicting information:

    “In the rare cases where a site needs to extend Web technologies, the recommended solution is to develop the additional features as a Firefox add-on.”

    Firefox add-ons are being deprecated, as they have made clear recently. In addition, a “WebExtension” that they are moving towards will not be able to replace native plugin code because those are restricted to whatever WebExtension API is available. of note, binary components in add-ons have already been under fire, as well.

    So what are they actually saying to any but the few they work closely with?
    “If you need the browser to do something for your plugin our ‘Web technologies’ don’t support, then you should invest time and effort into something that we won’t be supporting for much longer either. Oh wait, that’s not our problem because we satisfy our select partners that work with us to integrate plugin functionality. Just fold already.”

    Also, I find it funny that they mention stability issues. That’s what we have OOPP (plugin container) for. And making an exception for the biggest cause of instability there is: Flash. “We’ll remove plugin support except for those we have a tight partnership with already”… Sounds typical for recent Mozilla directions to me, ruining the web ecosystem where they can.

    I don’t think I’ve ever, in my life, had any other NPAPI plugin than Flash crash on me, that I recall. At least not to such an extent that it would stand out, and definitely not such an issue that it would warrant removing all of them altogether…

    Also, performance? How can JS in WebAPIs be more performant than native compiled code? Think about that for a second.


    As for the question: do I require NPAPI support? Hell yes. My multiple financial institutions that I do on-line work with use plugins for authentication. Losing that alone would be an instant deal-breaker for me. I can also see the same thing happening for people who prefer e.g. VLC over the limited capabilities of built-in video in Firefox.

    1. tomysshadow said on November 11, 2015 at 7:00 am

      …but that’s what we have pale Moon for, right? ;)

  13. insanelyapple said on October 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    If that will help block all these plugins from 3rd party programs which are loading with Fx/Tb and not giving anything – I’m completely positive about this change.

  14. David said on October 9, 2015 at 10:17 am

    If they do this they really ought to go all out and kill Flash, especailly since that’s the one with most of the listed issues.

    However I won’t look forward to the change. The Sumatra plugin is fantastic and it shames PDF.js. It too is discontinued, but since it doesn’t run scripts that’s not concerning. It’s great.

  15. DaveyK said on October 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Biggest problem with these moves is that they are destroying the use of alternative browsers in a lot of companies. I work for a VERY large multinational company. Over the last few years, there has been an increasing acceptance of browsers other than IE, and at the moment both Chrome and Firefox are provided as fully supported browsers for staff to use. However, by disabling NPAPI support, it crucially breaks Java, and this in turn breaks a LOT of internal web sites used by our Oracle financial suite, training solutions, cloud storage upload tools, etc.

    Already, Chrome usage within the company is dwindling fast as users are sick of having to keep switching back and forth to IE or Firefox for lots of internal sites, and I can see Firefox quickly joining Chrome in this pile here. If a browser doesn’t work for a required site, users will just ditch the browser and move!

    I’m sure none-plugin methods of accessing these sites will eventually be sorted out in due course, however the reality right now is that a LOT of companies do still rely on Java, and I do therefore feel that this change is coming about too fast and is only going to damage the uptake of alternative browsers within businesses. All this will do is push a lot of previously flexible companies back to being IE-only shops once more.

    1. CGA said on October 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Yes, this is indeed a very bad move. I can forget about using FF at work.

      1. LimboSlam said on October 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

        I agree, this not only effects website owners, but also companies/factories, schools and government buildings that use this kind of technology in their work environment. And I know this first hand…… I’m a tutor for Special ED students and I need certain plugins so they are able to view certain videos/audio and play games, this is part of a reward system I use for them.

        Well….. Looks like I will get in touch with my colleagues and see if Pale Moon (one of the last standing browser that will continue to support NPAPI Plugins) is alright to install and use at school so I can do my job correctly; it’s my moral duty to get these kids through high school and prepare them for everyday life.

        Farewell FireChrome and I wish you the best of luck, I really do. :(

  16. MaulDropper said on October 9, 2015 at 7:25 am

    who needs a hyped cyber war? It’s already here.
    Mozilla is both serious and misguided.
    If I was to tell you what I really think and do, then that would be the next target.

    I post about how I love this css Userstyle theme
    Mozilla kills this kind of themes.

    Time goes on…
    Mozilla breaks things constantly…
    No fanfare basically everyone consents…

    I post about how I love addon X.
    Mozilla kills all addons

    I complain about JAVA exploits
    Mozilla kills plugins

    Just burn in hell Mozilla. What country you want to invade next? cmd.exe or sh
    I can see how you might improve them by limiting how many processes they can handle for their SAFETY FACTOR or some such nonsense.

    The irony is going back to something like lynx an OS that basically handles BBS.
    I’ve obtained a Nice DOS browser, so it’s the WEB 2.0 and INTERNET OF THINGS that suck.
    I mean really MOZILLA you got the right idea, but you just haven’t carried it far enough.

    I mean I want people to know downloading terabytes should make you absolutely nauseated. People have no idea what a few kilobytes can do anymore. They’re completely clueless, and it’s not just informed consent issues, and that’s the new generation we have sewn the seeds for.

    I have one advice for Mozilla. when you assume you make an ASS out of YOU and ME.

    1. AP said on February 13, 2017 at 6:33 am

      I agree 100% !

    2. Harushi said on October 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Mozilla kills all addons? Seriously? Look like you only see the negative side of all things. There is no browser for you. Lol

      1. Anonymous said on October 10, 2015 at 11:50 am

        Mozilla kills all addons? Seriously?
        Out of Context. Signed addons. I have MIND OVERLOAD, wait until the 18hrs a day floride, chemtrails bad news and gmo’s get to you too bro, you’ll be slow-just like me.

        Look like you only see the negative side of all things.

        There’s no bee in my bonet, but I see what breaks.
        when it doesn’t work and I have to ROLL it back to one that DOES work.
        The reason for this is so that work can be completed.

        There is no browser for you. Lol

        Do You taunt, and think this is funny?
        OR sympathise and offer a way to KEEP MY plugins settings, addons and themes?

        There is a browser for me alright, it’s just that it doesn’t have the latest updates.
        (You might be surprised how it looks)
        It’s not my fault after Version X they killed the theme I used. But we both know it was MUCH more than that. Along with the theme — you tell me what it took out. Oh that’s right YOU LAUGH at me, but you convienently forget the mayhem that day. That day has been repeated to the point that I LOST TRACK!

        How abou the time the Status Bar did this…
        How abou that time the x, and y, and z did this.

        there’s a pattern here.
        Push your vision
        Ignore negative feedback

        laugh at people with broken stuff or claim they’re off topic

        Ultimately YOUR attitude makes browsing LESS secure.
        Here’s why.
        You just exposed something.

        these browsers are NOW unpatched ( i mean they ain’t on the update channel since
        Mozilla had their vision for the future.)

        people wanted their addons and plugins to continue and don’t care about a new mozilla version

        It isn’t just the browser anymore. Things are BOUND TO it.
        You want examples, but there isn’t enough time or my patience, there are MANY THINGS BOUND to the browser now.

        This is the conflict. It’s not like mothernature getting tired of man lazilly sitting around so give us a kick in the butt. If you can’t breath air, you better be a damn fish, the problem is I am not a fish, I can’t breath underneath the mozilla water.

        The Number one thing I would sum up that I want? To be able to PATCH an OLD say 28 alpha… firefox 3.18 3.17? I forget the numbers.. But yeah patch those versions to 2015 safety.
        I am talking about patching multiple OLD firefoxes now. While I have the box that can RENDER firefox
        make /j8

        , I couldn’t patch jack

        I won’t upgrade–Current Mozilla won’t suit my purpose.
        I am vulnerable.
        IT IS My fault you claim.

        In this light My only defense to your opinion, is CLONING, and VM’s
        You can crack the browser and smash the system, but I will just roll back in 45 minutes.
        It’s mozilla that has the flawed vision.
        Lauging at it’s outcome (my choice of browser) won’t fix it.

  17. Brian said on October 9, 2015 at 2:56 am

    I’m all for getting rid of flash and java but if they don’t give Firefox another format for add ons I will definitely move on to another browser. I have dropped other browsers in the past for their lack of customization. In fact I’m already testing three others that do support add ons and I have been a very loyal Firefox user for several years now. The add ons were why I have been using it. If Mozilla screws this up I’m gone.

  18. derth said on October 9, 2015 at 2:32 am

    It’s pretty clear that they are becoming 100% ChromeClone by next years end after the removal of their own fully customizable/controllable xul add-ons and incorporation of chrome based web extensions equal to 100% Chromefox.

  19. user$ said on October 9, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Good move i think. Flash will work (Shumway might be alternative to this time), Unity will work, Java applets could be switched to plugin-free solution and the transition time is long enought.

  20. Decent60 said on October 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I don’t get it really…..Kill off Java but keep Flash, which has just as many security risks and problems….I understand they want people to use video sites but many have already moved to HTML5….

    1. Neal said on October 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Java is actually lot worse than Flash especially in regards to security, but I get that both are bad. Firefox 42 is supposedly sandboxing Flash in Mozilla’s own sandbox so theoretically Flash should be safer to use. Also Mozilla hasn’t quite gotten EME straightened out yet so they are hedging.

      1. Caspy7 said on October 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        EME seems to work fine. As I understand Mozilla is waiting on Adobe to finish it on all platforms, notably Windows 64 bit.

  21. Mike Harris said on October 8, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Mozilla announces the end of web browser framework in Firefox
    By Mike Harris on October 8, 2015 in Firefox – Last Update: October 8, 2015

    Mozilla just announced an updated roadmap for the removal of the web browser framework in Firefox and Firefox ESR. According to information posted by Snidely Whiplash on the official Mozilla blog, plans are underway to remove the entire web browser framework by the end of 2016.

    The core reason given by Mozilla for the move is the following one:

    “The web browser is the number-one cause of performance problems, crashes, and security incidents for Web users. While we recognize web browsing functionality is popular, by its removal, users of Firefox will see a significant reduction in these issues, which we think is a sufficient trade-off.”

    1. Bobby Phoenix said on October 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      It’s going to be a good trade-off I think. The only downside is once they remove it how are businesses going to handle it? I mean Chrome already removed it, and a lot switched to Firefox, and now Firefox is following. A lot of businesses depend on things like Silverlight and Java. The time frame is very small for them to update their programs/apps. In the end I don’t think it will stop them from using Firefox, but since they are following Chrome, it will be another tough choice, but I think Firefox will still be the choice with better Add-ons. I guess there is always IE. Bwahahaha

    2. anon said on October 8, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      bait/10 do not reply

  22. jasray said on October 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    The Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) does sound a bit antiquated since it started in 1995 for use in Netscape [My gosh! How many readers actually remember using the browser?]

    The choice of what to keep baffles me since Adobe Flash is the one plugin I completely disable in Firefox because it’s always crashing the “plugin container.” No problems with Silverlight. In fact, Amazon Prime video prefers users to switch to Silverlight, and I find any viewing experience with Silverlight infinitely more robust than with Flash.

    Maybe no problems for many of us: I moved away from Firefox over two years ago and prefer Cyberfox or Palemoon. Waterfox? Chrome?

    Oh well–just some thoughts.

    1. zermok said on February 6, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      it never crashed on my site and flash players always been faster than HTML5 for videos and 3D.
      more, it’s the only way to use vector animations

    2. Pierre said on October 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      I remember Netscape perfectly

    3. ilev said on October 9, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Silverlight is dead.

      1. Jeff said on October 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

        Yet it’s still a requirement for using Netflix inside of Firefox.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

        Yes it appears that it indeed is.

  23. User said on October 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Yes, yes! Kill Adobe Flash, Unity, Java and others with fire. I hope Mozilla do not include some plugins to the browser to make Firefox more bloated.

    1. George said on October 9, 2015 at 1:54 am

      Based on what Mozilla has done in the last years, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Expect optional, user-enabled plugins to be replaced by embedded, bloated ones with less control.

      1. Sample Text said on October 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

        Actually in regards to web standards Mozilla has been behaving quite well, and Mozilla employees indicates that they want browser plugins dead.

        Time will tell what goes down. I just don’t think that what you mentioned will happen.

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