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Support for Flash expired on December 31, 2020.

Adobe Flash Player
Get Adobe Flash Player 2015 icon+windows.gif
Initial release January 1, 1996
Discontinued December 31, 2020
OS Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris and Pocket PC
Available language(s) Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean [1].
Genre Interpreter, media player
License Proprietary freeware EULA
Website adobe.com/products/flashplayer

Adobe Flash Player was a widely distributed proprietary multimedia and application player created and distributed by Macromedia (a division of Adobe Systems). Flash Player runs SWF files that can be created by the Adobe Flash authoring tool, by Adobe Flex or by a number of other Macromedia and third party tools.

Adobe Flash, or simply Flash, can refer to both the Flash Professional multimedia authoring program and the Flash Player plug-in. Written and distributed by Adobe, it uses vector and raster graphics, a native scripting language called ActionScript and bidirectional streaming of video and audio. Strictly speaking, Adobe Flash is the authoring environment and Flash Player is the virtual machine used to run the Flash files, but in colloquial language these have become mixed: "Flash" can mean either the authoring environment, the player, or the application files. In 2016, the authoring environment was rebranded as Adobe Animate.

Flash Player had support for an embedded scripting language called ActionScript (AS), which is based on ECMAScript. Since its inception ActionScript has matured from a script syntax without variables to one that supports object-oriented code, and may now be compared in capability to JavaScript (another ECMAScript-based scripting language).

The Flash Player was originally designed to display 2-dimensional vector animation, but has since become suitable for creating rich Internet applications and streaming video and audio. It uses vector graphics to minimize file size and create files that save bandwidth and loading time. Flash is a common format for games, animations, and GUIs embedded into web pages.

The Flash Player was built into some browsers and was available as a plug-in for recent versions of other browsers (such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer) on selected platforms. Each version of the plug-in was completely backwards-compatible. However, it was also criticized for its security issues and support was phased out of major browsers by the end of 2020.[2]

Supported platforms[]

The latest version of Flash Player, Version 9, is available for Windows (98 and newer), Linux (x86-32 only), Solaris and Mac OS X. Version 7 is the most recent official version currently available for the Linux/ARM-based Nokia 770/N800 Internet Tablets, classic Mac OS, Pocket PC and Windows 95/NT.[3][4] HP offers Version 6 of the player for HP-UX.[1] Other versions of the player have been available at some point for OS/2, Symbian OS, Palm OS, BeOS and IRIX.[2] The Kodak Easyshare One includes Flash Player. The Flash Player SDK was used to develop its on-screen menus, which are rendered and displayed using the included Flash Player.[5] Among other devices, LeapFrog Enterprises provides Flash Player with their Leapster Multimedia Learning System and extended the Flash Player with touch-screen support.[6] Sony has integrated Flash Player 6 into the Playstation Portable's web browser via firmware version 2.70. Nintendo has integrated Flash Player 7 in the Internet Channel on the Wii.

On September 15, Adobe by way of Lee Brimelow's "The Flash Blog" announced the release of a public beta preview, native 64-bit Flash Player code-named "Square" for all major platforms and browsers. Previously no x86-64 editions of the Flash player were available for any platform [3], due to the complexity of porting the x86-32-specific garbage collector and just-in-time compilation engine [4] to native 64-bit (platform specific) code. Adobe engineers in 2006 had already stated that 64-bit editions for all supported platforms, including Linux, were in development [5]. Adobe however, had been developing a x64 edition of the Flash Player since 2005. While the new beta version on labs support 64-bit natively, it's still a long way from finished, to that end, Adobe as of yet have not stated if and when a stable, final release will be given.

Although SWF has recently become an open format again, Adobe has not been willing to make complete source code available for free software development. The source code for the ActionScript Virtual Machine has been released as a project named Tamarin [6] under the terms of an MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license. It includes the specification for the ActionScript byte code format. This project is jointly managed by Mozilla and Adobe. The full specification of the SWF format is available without restriction by Adobe. The principal alternative free software player, Gnash, is quite incomplete at this time, however since SWF is now an open format, it should have a much higher quality going forward as developers implement the official SWF specifications.

Internet Privacy/Persistent Identification Elements[]

Flash Player is an application that, while running on a computer that is connected to the internet, is designed to contemporaneously interact with websites containing Flash content that are being visited online. As such, under certain configurations the application has the potential to silently compromise its users' internet privacy, and do so without their knowledge. By default, Flash Player is configured to permit small, otherwise invisible "tracking" files, known as Persistent Identification Elements (PIE)[7] or Local Shared Object files, to be stored on the hard drive of a user's computer. Sent in the background over the internet from websites to which a user is connected, these files work much the way "cookies" do with internet browsers. When stored on a user's computer, PIE (.sol) files are capable of sending personally sensitive data back out over the internet without the user's knowledge to one or more third parties. In addition, Flash Player is also capable of accessing and retrieving digital audio and video data from any microphone and/or webcam that might be either built in or connected to a user's computer and transmitting it in realtime over the internet (also potentially without the user's knowledge) to one or more third parties.

While these capabilities can all be affirmatively blocked and/or disabled by the user, the Flash Player application does not provide an internally accessible "preferences" panel to accomplish this. Instead access to the various settings panels necessary to manage the application's "Privacy," "Storage", "Security", and "Notifications" settings can be achieved through a web-based Settings Manager page located on the "support" section of the Adobe.com website, or by third party tools (see Local Shared Object). Each of the functions can be enabled/disabled either "globally" to cover all websites, or set differently for individual websites depending on how the user desires Flash Player to be able to interact with each one.

Whilst the Flash Control Panel Settings in theory allow users to protect their privacy it should be remembered that suitably crafted Visual Basic Script or similar code can overwrite any user defined settings before the Flash Player plug-in is called by a webpage.

In addition to cookies, many banks and other financial institutions also routinely install Persistent Identification Elements using Flash Player on users' hard drives when they establish and access their accounts, as do other interactive sites such as YouTube.

Deprecation[]

End-of-life image displayed by deprecated Flash Player plug-ins after January 12, 2021.

In April 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote an open critique of Flash platform to justify his refusal to support the technology on Apple's successful iOS line, which included the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.[8] An Apple engineer later stated that Jobs was offended that Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen would not take his phone calls for what he perceived to be "mere engineering problems".[9] Developers of third-party web browsers began to blacklist the Flash plugin by default due to security issues.[10] In November 2015, Adobe announced that the next version of the Flash Professional authoring application would be rebranded as Adobe Animate (released in February 2016) to reflect the change of product focus.[11]

In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would phase out support for Flash Player by the end of 2020.[12] Support by major browser developers, such as Microsoft, was phased out by December 31, 2020. The latest Flash plug-ins began blocking playback of content on January 12, 2021.[2] Instead, an image would be displayed that would link to an end-of-life notice from Adobe.[13] For enterprise customers that still needed to transition legacy Flash content to alternate technologies, such Adobe AIR, Harman International became an officially licensed distributor and enterprise support provider.[14]

History[]

FutureSplash logo.png

  • FutureSplash Player 1 (1996)
  • Macromedia Flash Player 2 (1997)
    • First version developed under Macromedia
    • Mostly vectors and motion, some bitmaps, limited audio
  • Macromedia Flash Player 3 (1998)
    • Added alpha transparency, licensed MP3 compression
  • Macromedia Flash Player 4 (May 1999)
  • Macromedia Flash Player 5 (August 2000)
  • Macromedia Flash Player 6 (version 6.0.21.0, codenamed Exorcist) (March 2002)
    Macromedia Flash Enabled logo.png
    • Support for the consuming Flash Remoting (AMF) and Web Service (SOAP)
    • Supports ondemand/live audio and video streaming (RTMP)
    • Support for screenreaders via Microsoft Active Accessibility
    • Added Sorenson Sparc video codec for Flash Video
  • Macromedia Flash Player 7 (version 7.0.14.0, codenamed Mojo) (September 2003)
    Macromedia Flash Player 7 logo.png
    • Supports progressive audio and video streaming (HTTP)
    • Supports ActionScript 2.0, an Object-Oriented Programming Language for developers
  • Macromedia Flash Player 8 (version 8.0.22.0, codenamed Maelstrom) (August 2005)
    Macromedia Flash Player 8+9 icon.png
    • Support of GIF and PNG bitmapped images
    • New video codec (On2 VP6)
    • Improved runtime performance
    • Live filters such as blur and drop shadow
    • File upload and download capabilities
    • Crisp pixel-perfect text rendering
    • New security features to prevent unsafe code from running
  • Macromedia Flash Lite 1.0 and 1.1
    • Based on Flash Player 4
  • Macromedia Flash Lite 2.0 (December 2005)
    • Based on Flash Player 7
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 (version 9.0.15.0, codenamed Zaphod) (June 2006) previously named Flash Player 8.5
    • New ECMAScript scripting engine, ActionScript Virtual Machine AVM2. AVM retained for compatibility.
    • Actionscript 3 via AVM2.
    • E4X, which is a new approach to parsing XML.
    • Support for binary sockets.
    • Support for Regular Expressions and namespaces.
    • ECMAScript 4 virtual machine donated to Mozilla Foundation and named Tamarin.
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 1 (version 9.0.28.0, codenamed Marvin) (November 2006[16])
    • Support for full-screen mode.[17]
  • Adobe Flash Lite 2.1 (December 2006)
    • Running on the BREW platform
  • Adobe Flash Lite 3 (Announced on February 2007)
    • Support for FLV transcoding
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 2 (version Mac/Windows 9.0.47.0 and Linux 9.0.48.0, codenamed Hotblack) (July 2007)
    • Security Update
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3 (version 9.0.115.0, codenamed Moviestar or Frogstar) (December 2007)[18]
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 (version 9.0.124.0) (April 2008)
    • Critical Security Update
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 Beta (version 10.0.1.218, codenamed Astro) (May 2008)[19]
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 Beta 2 (version 10.0.1.525, codenamed Astro) (July 2008)
    • 3D Effects
    • Custom Filters and Effects
    • Advanced Text Layout
    • Enhanced Drawing API
    • Visual Performance Improvements
    • Rich Media
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 (version 10.0.12.36, codenamed Astro) (October 15, 2008)
  • Adobe Flash Player 11 (version 11.0.1.152, codenamed Serrano) (October 4, 2011)
    • Desktop only
  1. Stage 3D accelerated graphics rendering

Desktop: Windows (DirectX 9), OS X (Intel processor only) and Linux (OpenGL 1.3), Swift Shader fallback Mobile: Android and iOS (OpenGL ES 2) H.264/AVC software encoding for cameras Native 64-bit Asynchronous bitmap decoding TLS secure sockets

    • Desktop and mobile
  1. Stage Video hardware acceleration

Native extension libraries Desktop: Windows (dll), OS X (framework) Mobile: Android jar, so), iOS a JPEG XR decoding G.711 audio compression for telephony Protected HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) Unlimited bitmap size LZMA SWF compression

    • Mobile only
  1. H.264/AAC playback

Front-facing camera Background audio playback Device speaker control 16- and 32-bit color depth

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. Flash Player Download Center
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adobe Flash rides off into the sunset by T.C. Sottek, The Verge. 2020-12-31.
  3. Downloads: Web Players, Adobe Systems. Accessed 2019-10-15.
  4. Flash Player TechNote: Flash Player upgrade for operating systems that do not support Flash Player 8, Adobe Systems. 2006-03-14. Archived 2006-05-04.
  5. Macromedia - Flash Player SDK http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer_sdk/ (Taken 7 July 2006)
  6. Adobe Success Story: LeapFrog Enterprises http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/showcase/index.cfm?event=casestudydetail&casestudyid=21019&loc=en_us (Taken 7 July 2006)
  7. Persistent Identification Elements (PIE) and Internet Privacy.
  8. Thoughts on Flash by Steve Jobs, Apple. 2010-04.
  9. Apple engineer reveals the real reason Steve Jobs didn’t allow Flash on the iPhone by Yoni Heisler, Boy Genius Report. 2016-12-12.
  10. Google and Mozilla pull the plug on Adobe Flash: Tech giants disable the program on browsers following 'critical' security flaw by Victoria Woollaston, Daily Mail. 2015-07-14.
  11. Welcome Adobe Animate CC, a new era for Flash Professional by Rich Lee, Adobe Blog. 2015-11-30.
  12. Flash & The Future of Interactive Content, Adobe. 2017-07-25.
  13. Adobe Flash Player EOL General Information Page, Adobe Inc. 2020-12-02. Accessed 2021-01-12.
  14. Adobe Flash Player EOL Enterprise Information Page, Adobe Inc. 2020-12-07.
  15. A Nostalgic Rummage Through the History of Flash by Wassine Bouhlel, Envato Tuts+. 2010-12-31.
  16. Emmy Huang: Flash Player 9 Update (9.0.28.0) release now available for Windows and Macintosh
  17. Adobe - Developer Center : Exploring full-screen mode in Flash Player 9
  18. Adobe press release: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200712/120407adobemoviestar.html. Blog post from Emmy Huang, the Product Manager for Adobe Flash Player: http://weblogs.macromedia.com/emmy/archives/2007/12/flash_player_9_10.cfm
  19. Adobe press release: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200712/120407adobeastro.html. Blog post from Emmy Huang, the Product Manager for Adobe Flash Player: http://weblogs.macromedia.com/emmy/archives/2008/12/flash_player_10.cfm

See also[]

External links[]

Adobe Flash
FutureSplash Animator · 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · MX · MX 2004 (Pro) · 8 (Pro 8) | CS3 · CS4 · CS5 · CS6 · CC
Flash Player: 1 | 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 | 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · 29 · 30 · 31 · 32
ActionScript: 1 · 2 · 3   |   Flash Builder: 1 | 2 · 3 · 4 (4.5 · 4.6 · 4.7)   |   Flash Cast   |   Flash Catalyst: CS5 (CS5.5)
Flash Lite: 1 · 2 | 3 · 4   |   Media Server: MX (1.5) · 2 | 3 (3.5) · 4 (4.5) · 5   |   SWF   |   Adobe Animate
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