• January 24, 2021

GEEK TO ME: It’s time to bid farewell to Flash Player - Odessa American: Geek To Me

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GEEK TO ME: It’s time to bid farewell to Flash Player

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Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2020 5:30 am

Question: First, your column is first on my Saturday reading list, and one of the reasons we still have a newspaper subscription. Second, I'm usually able to figure out the problems on our computers, being self-taught. 'Nuf of that. The main reason for this is that a disturbing notification happened yesterday. It appeared quick and disappeared and I'm unable to confirm it. The note was "Adobe will be removed and not be supporting any Windows 10 computers on Dec. 31, 2020." We have used Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player since their origination, and it seems we still get something that requires its use. Third, what are good substitutes, if any? Thanks, and keep up the good work.

– Ted C.

Crestview, Florida

Answer: I believe that’s the first time anyone has ever credited me as the reason they still subscribe to the print edition of their newspaper! I will take that as a compliment, so thanks for the kind words. I hope the publisher is taking note!

The issue that has you so rattled isn’t really an issue at all. It’s more a matter of mistaken identity, and a poor choice of wording on the part of the software vendor.

First of all, let’s be clear: There is no software package named “Adobe.” That is the name of a software company, more specifically, Adobe Inc., formerly Adobe Systems Incorporated. Since it is a company, you can see that it can’t be on your computer, and if you accept that premise, it’s impossible for it to be removed. That would be like saying “Microsoft will be removed from your computer.” It’s just not going to happen. And shame on Adobe for foisting that inaccurate message on its users. (For true fans of this column, this would be a “Thanks, Shantanu!” moment, referring to Shantanu Narayen, Chairman and CEO of Adobe Inc. as of this writing.)

As you mentioned, Adobe Inc. publishes numerous titles, most of which have the company name in them. Adobe Reader (formerly Adobe Acrobat Reader) is the free counterpart to Adobe Acrobat, that allows you to read Portable Document Format (PDF) files if you don’t own a copy of Acrobat. This invaluable tool isn’t going away any time in the near future. Adobe Photoshop is among the most popular image editing packages around, so it won’t be going anyplace. Other Adobe titles, including Illustrator, Creative Suite, (Creative Cloud), Cold Fusion, and dozens more are also not being retired anytime soon.

The title that’s on the chopping block is Adobe Flash Player. It fell out of favor after hackers discovered they could use it to create exploits that allowed them to easily take over people’s computers. It has slowly faded away, and the most popular browsers either don’t support it anymore, or have some subset of Flash built-in. Those that don’t have turned to newer, more secure methods of providing enhanced web content, such as HTML5, and WebGL.

Adobe announced way back on July 25, 2017 that Flash was being put on the track to End-of-life (EOL) with a target of the end of 2020. That’s a very generous timeline. They gave software architects and users 3 ½ years to migrate away from Flash, and even named potential successor software. They took these steps in collaboration with some of the largest players in the space, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla. You can read the original announcement on the Adobe blog by visiting TinyURL.com/IGTM-0699.

As with all software EOL times, the major impact is that Adobe is withdrawing support for, and so will no longer issue updates to Flash. That makes it somewhat dangerous to run, as any new vulnerabilities discovered in the software will go un-patched. Adobe is taking steps to prevent exploits by blocking all Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning on January 12, 2021. You can also expect major browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and others to simply disable Flash Player at some point soon after the EOL date.

So, rest assured that the majority of your Adobe Inc. products will go merrily on. But it’s time to bid farewell to Flash Player.

To view additional content, comment on articles, or submit a question of your own, visit my website at ItsGeekToMe.co (not .com!)

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