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Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/16/2016
10:10 AM
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Microsoft To Block Flash In Edge Browser For Security, Speed

Microsoft will block Adobe Flash by default in its Edge browser, following similar announcements from Google, Apple, and Mozilla.

Microsoft will block Adobe Flash by default in its Edge browser in an effort to help users drive performance, prolong battery life, and strengthen security.

This marks the next step in a gradual transition away from Flash. Microsoft began to give more control over Flash in the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10, which let users pause certain Flash content like non-central website advertisements.

The next release of Windows 10 will extend this capability to give users more control over when Flash content loads. Windows Insiders will get an early look at this feature in upcoming preview builds of Windows 10.

Microsoft's idea is to encourage people to choose HTML5 alternatives. The Windows team plans to evolve its user experience over time, building up to a stable release in next year's Creator's Update for the OS. When that update rolls out in 2017, websites supporting HTML5 will automatically default to a clean HTML5 experience.

"In these cases, Flash will not even be loaded, improving performance, battery life, and security," explain Edge PM Manager John Hazen and Senior PM Crispin Cowan, in a blog post.

"For sites that still depend on Flash, users will have the opportunity to decide whether they want Flash to load and run, and this preference can be remembered for subsequent visits."

The team acknowledges how many websites continue to use Flash, so to ease users into this transition, these changes will not initially affect popular sites. Over the coming months, it will observe Flash use within Edge and edit the list of automatic exceptions.

When the transition is complete, users will still have control over their Flash settings and have the option to enable Flash for sites they visit.

Microsoft's announcement arrives one week after Google shared plans to block Adobe Flash by default in Chrome, which will transition to a default of HTML5. Apple and Mozilla have also joined the trend by reducing Flash usage in their browsers.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Christian Bryant
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Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
12/20/2016 | 2:14:56 PM
Kudos to Microsoft
As a GNU/Linux hacker I don't often say this (but I find myself saying it more and more these days), but kudos to Microsoft.  For years free software advocates have been pointing out the flaws of plugins like Flash and while many of these are philosophical, the underpinning tech that includes the source of the ethical upset is also the source of many technical exploits.  Microsoft's drive to be more secure is an important industry example and it's great to see them more and more in this role.
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