Microsoft has clarified its timeline for removing support for Adobe Flash from Windows on the new Chromium-based Edge, legacy Edge and Internet Explorer (IE) 11 browsers.
Microsoft is following through with plans it announced along with Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla in 2017 to end support for Flash by December 2020.
"Microsoft is ending support for Adobe Flash Player on Microsoft Edge (both the new Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Edge Legacy) and Internet Explorer 11 at the end of 2020," the company said on the Microsoft Edge blog.
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So there are no changes to Microsoft's general policy for Windows consumers regarding Flash Player, which has largely been replaced by open web standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. Adobe also will not issue security updates after December 2020.
However, Microsoft has now outlined ongoing support available to enterprise customers that rely on Windows, Microsoft browsers, and Adobe Flash for line of business applications.
"To aid such customers, Microsoft Edge will allow Adobe Flash Player to load as a plug-in via the Internet Explorer mode feature. Inherently, Internet Explorer 11 will also allow this. Once you make the switch from Microsoft provided Adobe Flash Player, it will be treated as any other third-party plug-in and will not receive Customer Support from Microsoft," the company said.
Adobe meanwhile has offloaded its support responsibilities for Flash to Harman, the US audio company that Samsung bought in 2016 and now uses as a connected services business.
"Enterprise customers may still require Flash Player commercial support and licensing beyond 2020 to run internal business systems (i.e. content on a company's intranet, interactive dashboards, digital training)," Adobe explains in a blogpost.
Microsoft also clarified that Flash Player will be removed from Chromium-based Edge by January 2021 and that it won't give Windows users Flash updates for its legacy browsers.
"After December 2020, you will no longer receive "Security Update for Adobe Flash Player" from Microsoft that applies to Microsoft Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer 11," Microsoft said.
"Beginning in January 2021, Adobe Flash Player will be disabled by default and all versions older than KB4561600 released in June 2020 will be blocked. Downloadable resources related to Adobe Flash Player that are hosted on Microsoft websites will no longer be available."
Microsoft is planning to release an update called "Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player" via the Microsoft Update Catalog for users to manually download, as well as Windows Update and WSUS. The update permanently kills Flash Player on Windows.
Windows users will be able to install this update from the Microsoft Update Catalog in Autumn 2020.
The Flash removal update will be available as an optional update on Windows Update and WSUS in early 2021. A few months later Microsoft will recommend the Flash removal update be installed and it "will be permanent and cannot be un-installed", says Microsoft.
The next milestone for enterprise customers on Windows 10 and earlier that rely on Flash Player comes in the Summer of 2021.
"In Summer of 2021, all the APIs, group polices and user interfaces that specifically govern the behavior of Adobe Flash Player will be removed from Microsoft Edge (legacy) and Internet Explorer 11 via the latest "Cumulative Update" on Windows 10 platforms and via "Cumulative Update for Internet Explorer 11" or "Monthly Rollup" on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard," Microsoft said.
"Also, the "Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player" will be included as part of the "Cumulative Update" and "Monthly Rollup" this point forward. If you are working with Adobe for continued support, you should not be impacted by these changes."