Microsoft revealed today how it plans to deprecate and remove Adobe Flash Player from the company's browsers and operating systems. Administrators who want to remove Flash components entirely in Windows can do so from Fall 2020 onward.
Adobe announced in 2017 that it would retire the company's Flash Player in December 2020. The company would stop releasing updates for the program and would stop distributing the player.
Flash was an integral part of the Internet but advances in technology have changed that and made Flash more or less obsolete. While some sites still use it today, Flash is not as widely used anymore as it was in its prime days.
Adobe confirmed the retiring of Flash on December 31, 2020 in June 2020. The company will remove Flash downloads from its site after the end of support, and revealed that Flash content will be blocked from running in the payer after the end of support date.
Microsoft clarified its plans for the removal of Adobe Flash in its browser products Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge Legacy, and the new Microsoft Edge.
The company will release a final update for Adobe Flash in December 2020 as part of the company's monthly Patch Tuesday. Updates for Adobe Flash won't be released after December 2020 anymore, and beginning in January 2021, Adobe Flash Player will be "disabled by default and all versions older than the Flash Player update of June 2020 (see KB4561600) will be blocked automatically.
Flash downloads and resources related to Adobe Flash will no longer be hosted by Microsoft.
Windows administrators and users who don't need Flash anymore will be able to download an update titled "Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player" from the Microsoft Update Catalog in Fall 2020 to permanently remove Flash as a component from the operating system. Microsoft states explicitly that the update is permanent and that it cannot be uninstalled.
The update will be pushed to devices via Windows Update and WSUS at a later point in time, and made optional at first. The status of the update will be changed to recommended after a few months according to Microsoft.
Starting in Summer 2021, all "APIs, group policies, and user interfaces that specifically govern the behavior of Adobe Flash Player" will be removed from Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge (legacy); this will be done via cumulative updates for Windows 10, the cumulative update for Internet Explorer 11, monthly rollup updates for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2021 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard.
The Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player will be included as part of the cumulative operating system updates at this point. It needs to be noted that the removal of Flash using the update won't interface with Flash used in browsers such as Google Chrome if still provided at that point. It is necessary to install updates to remove Flash support from third-party browsers that include Flash.
Enterprise customers who require Flash support after December 2020 may contact Adobe. The company provides information on the available options, including options to run Flash content in internal environments after December 2020, here.
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