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The Computer Corner


Bye-Bye, Adobe Flash. You Won’t Be Missed

By Charles Miller

This week as México celebrates Day of the Dead, many in the tech community are quietly rejoicing in the upcoming and long-overdue death of Adobe Flash. For those readers who may not be familiar, Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for animations, games, web browser video players, and the source of more problems and security vulnerabilities than I could list in fifty of these weekly columns.

First released by Macromedia, Inc. in 1996 and later acquired by Adobe Systems, Inc., Flash is and always was a kludge, a makeshift solution. It is true that Flash greatly enhanced the user experience by enabling flashy (pun intended) animated web pages and enabling videos to be added to websites that had previously been nothing more than still images and static text. For both Apple and Microsoft, though, all of the changes Flash made to Windows and OS-X when it was installed were a nightmare. Flash’s changes were the source of unending security vulnerabilities and often caused instability to entire operating systems.

Flash holds the distinction of having more than 400 serious bugs on the list of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) operated by the Mitre Corporation in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security. Throughout its life, it was very rare to have a month pass without the discovery of a new information-security vulnerability already being exploited by cyber criminals, then hurriedly patched by Adobe.

The end has been a long time in coming, though many recognized long ago that Flash was not a technology for the future. A decade ago, Steve Jobs of Apple wrote the first obituary for Flash with his refusal to allow it to be used on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

“We know from painful experience that letting a third-party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in substandard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform,” Jobs said at the time.

What Jobs knew from “painful experience” was that at one time, his Mac OS-X operating system and its Safari web browser were not yet designed for delivering animated web content or videos. He also knew that if someone rushed to bolt on some enhancements not developed by Apple, and which required such major modifications to the computer, there were a lot of potential for things to go wrong. And go wrong things did.

Flash was a pioneer in developing new technology that greatly improved the online experience of the Internet. Innovative ideas first seen with Flash are now incorporated in web browsers, making it unnecessary to use some third-party add-on. Adobe acknowledged this in announcing Flash’s demise.

“Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.”

In the end, it was undoubtedly the issue of security that doomed Flash. Cyber criminals of the world will miss it, but few others will mourn its passing.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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