Google to block all NPAPI plugins by default in January 2015

The whitelist allowing popular NPAPI plugins to run within Chrome without user interaction will be removed at the start of next month.

Google has outlined further details of its plans to completely remove plugins that make Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) from the Chrome ecosystem by September 2015.

As it currently stands, all NPAPI plugins are blocked from running by default, with the exception of five plugins that are whitelisted to be allowed to run: Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Google Talk, and Facebook Video. That situation will change in January next year, as Google will remove the whitelist and require user interaction to run any NPAPI plugin.

Over the past year, the whitelisted plugins have seen decreases in the percentage of times that they are launched, the company said in a blog post, with Silverlight by far the most often launched plugin.

The large number of Silverlight users is likely due to its usage by Netflix, with the streaming service saying in a letter to investors last month that it was halfway through switching away from Silverlight in favour of HTML5.

Google said that in April next year, it will disable NPAPI support by default and unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI from the Chrome Web Store. For users that still require NPAPI plugins, an override flag will be added to Chrome, and system administrators will be able to reactivate NPAPI plugins with an enterprise policy.

By September, though, Google intends to remove the override and remove NPAPI support.

"Installed extensions that require NPAPI plugins will no longer be able to load those plugins," Justin Schuh, Google software engineer and plugin retirement planner said.

"With each step in this transition, we get closer to a safer, more mobile-friendly web."

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