Microsoft has released a Windows update that removes Adobe's Flash Player before it reaches end of support on December 31, 2020.
Update KB4577586 is part of Microsoft's effort to follow through with plans it announced along with Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla in 2017 to end support for Flash by December 2020.
The Flash-removing update is available for all supported versions of Windows 10 and Windows Server, as well as Windows 8.1.
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In September, Microsoft confirmed it was ending support for Adobe Flash Player on its Chromium-based Edge and legacy Edge browsers as well as Internet Explorer 11 at the end of 2020. But the company also detailed future enterprise support options for customers that need to retain Flash for line-of-business applications.
"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," Microsoft said at the time.
In the past, Microsoft has worked with Adobe to deliver Flash updates for the browser plug-in in order to ensure end users were protected from exploits and malware targeting Flash Player security flaws.
This new update removes Flash Player from Windows devices and cannot be uninstalled, Microsoft says in a new support note.
However, it isn't rolling out via Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) just yet, and the update needs to be downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Update Catalog. It will become available to WSUS in early 2021, but admins can import it to WSUS manually today.
Microsoft is releasing the Flash-removing update ahead of the end of support so that enterprise customers can test the impact on business applications when Flash is removed from a Windows PC or server. But the company says it will continue to deliver Flash security updates until support ends.
"We are releasing this removal update in advance of end of support to help customers test and validate their environments for any impact that might occur by the removal of Adobe Flash Player. Also, if another security update for Adobe Flash Player is released, customers who take this removal update will still be offered the security update," Microsoft noted.
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Microsoft has also detailed two methods that users and admins can follow to continue using Flash Player after the update is installed.
Users can reset a device to an earlier system restore point. However, users need to explicitly enable this feature and a system restore point must have been created on the Windows device before the update is applied. The other option is to reinstall Windows without applying the update.