Proprietary Browser Plugins like Flash and Silverlight are Dead

October 4, 2015
In the very early history of the web, browser plug-ins played a vital role by enabling rich online multimedia experiences and complex web application functionality. However, along with these capabilities, plugins came with some inherent weaknesses that soon came to the forefront, and have ultimately contributed to their rapid downfall. 
 
Plugins consume an excessive amount of system resources and expose networks to serious security risks. Also, plugins are not designed for touch, and that is a significant disadvantage as mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have overtaken desktop computers in terms of popularity and adoption. Last but not least, plugins are based on proprietary programming, making it difficult to predict or control their support across different browsers and operating systems.
 
These are the very factors that have resulted in the demise of Flash and Silverlight technology. 
 
Earlier this year, with the release of the latest version of Chrome desktop Beta, the browser automatically paused Flash animations that — in Google’s words — “aren’t central to the webpage.” The reason cited was that auto-playing Flash content drains laptop batteries.
 
That same month, Firefox was forced to temporarily block Flash because of security concerns following the Hacking Team Leak.
 
Technology experts and reviewers are now proactively calling for an immediate and official retirement of Flash. Wired Magazine’s article ‘Flash.Must.Die‘ puts across its point in a pretty succinct manner:
 
“Because Flash is a closed, proprietary system on a web that deserves open standards. It’s a popular punching bag for hackers, which puts users at risk over and over again. And it’s a resource-heavy battery suck that at this point mostly finds its purchase in pop-up ads you didn’t want to see anyway.”
 
A recent TechCrunch article titled ‘Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers‘, also highlights the near demise of Flash, stating that: “Publishers need to urge their buyers to prepare for the upcoming Flash-pocalypse”.
 
Silverlight’s departure came even faster than that of Flash. Microsoft announced the end of life of Silverlight 5 in 2012. Soon afterwards, Microsoft also declared that they had concluded further development of Silverlight except for patches and bugfixes. Today, Silverlight is not supported on most popular mobile and web browsers.
 
So, what’s the alternative? The rise of HTML5 was the final nail in the coffin for these deprecated technologies. HTML5 is robust, widely supported and works great with mobile technology. Because of its characteristic advantages, HTML5 is being developed rapidly by a large number of technology groups, further increasing its capabilities across-the-board. In addition, search engine optimization aficionados root for HTML5 because, unlike Flash and Silverlight, supports a semantic structure that web crawlers such as Google Search know and understand. This is great news for your website’s SEO if your website is built using HTML5. 
 
Clearly, for event marketers and digital media property owners, this is the time to evaluate their technology solutions and make sure that their audience is being served their interactive content on all devices, browsers and operating systems without any hitch. If any of your properties are still being built exclusively or even partially on Flash or Silverlight technology, then not only is your audience being underserved, but also your window of transitioning to a better solution without disrupting the user experience may be a very tiny one.

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