Old Edge or IE may be best option to run Flash content until end of 2020

Adobe Flash will be retired at the end of 2020; Adobe announced that it won’t support Flash after 2020 anymore and major browser makers announced Flash shutdown timelines as well. While that won’t impact Flash content that is available on the Internet, it becomes difficult to run that content especially in 2021 and onward.

Microsoft announced a timeline to end support for Adobe Flash in 2017 at a time when the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge was not a thing. The company published an update last week that includes information about the new Microsoft Edge web browser — still not available as a stable version — and Microsoft’s classic web browsers.

microsoft flash player internet explorer edge

It should not come as a surprise that Microsoft plans to follow Chromium and Google Chrome in regards to the termination of Adobe Flash in the browser. Google set Flash to click-to-play by default in Chrome in 2016 and made the use of Flash increasingly annoying in the Chrome browser since then.

Microsoft planned to disable Adobe Flash by default in Internet Explorer 11 and the classic Microsoft Edge web browser in 2019 and disable Flash completely at the end of 2020. The announcement reveals that the disabling of Flash won’t happen in 2019 after all.

For both the in-market version of Microsoft Edge (built on EdgeHTML) and Internet Explorer 11, the current experience will continue as-is through 2019. Specifically, we no longer intend to update either Microsoft Edge (built on EdgeHTML) or Internet Explorer 11 to disable Flash by default. We still plan to fully remove Flash from these browsers by December 2020, as originally communicated.

Both browsers will keep the current status quo in regards to Flash content which means that they may be the best options when it comes to playing Flash content in browsers until the end of 2020.

Take Google Chrome as an example. Google Chrome displays a “Flash will no longer be supported” message on start if Flash is not disabled. While you can allow Flash content on a page, it is no longer possible to permanently allow Flash content on a page or site.

With Internet Explorer, Flash content plays automatically when you open the page. With Edge, you get click-to-play options to play Flash content on a page.

There is another side to the story: security. Running Flash content automatically when sites are loaded in the browser is not a good idea from a security point of view.

internet explorer flash disallow

You may disallow Flash content on all sites — the default in Internet Explorer — so that the browser prompts you whenever Flash content is loaded. Here is how that is done:

  1. Select Menu > Manage Add-ons.
  2. Make sure Toolbars and Extensions is selected. If you don’t see Shockwave Flash Object listed, change the “show” menu to “all add-ons”.
  3. Right-click on Shockwave Flash Object and select “more information”.
  4. Select the “remove all sites” button to remove the wildcard. You may select “allow on all sites” at any time to restore the default status.

Internet Explorer prompts you when it encounters Flash content when you remove the global wildcard.

Microsoft Edge admins may check the following Group Policy options to manage Flash usage in the web browser.

Closing words

All browsers will support Flash until the end of 2020 and some will even do so beyond the end of the year. If you need to access Flash content on the Web, you need to pick one of these. Flash support won’t be changed in classic Edge and Internet Explorer while it may very well be made less usable in other browsers to further discourage usage.

Now you: do you access Flash content regularly or occasionally?

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