Windows 10: Is Microsoft removing Flash support?

[German]A German blog reader dropped ‘a little bomb’ within a comment. He claims, that ‘Microsoft will no longer support security updates in Windows 10, Flash will be removed from Windows 10’. Here is a look at the current situation.


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The Background

Microsoft has integrated Adobe’s Flash Player in Windows 8.1 as well as in Windows 10. The Flash Player can therefore be used in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. As a user, there is no way to uninstall Adobe Flash Player to get rid of this security risk. But Microsoft provide the Flash Player in Windows 8.1 and in Windows 10 with security updates from Adobe.

The end of Flash in 2020

At the end of July 2017, Adobe had announced that it was planning the end-of-life for Flash together with Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla. At the end of 2020, the Flash update will end and the Adobe Flash Player will no longer be available for download. At that time it was said: Publishers who still rely on Flash should use the time to convert the content to new formats such as HTML5. I had outlined this topic within my blog post Fake News: Flash is dead? Now it’s fading out is planned 2020.

In general, the use of Flash is fading out. The percentage of daily Chrome users who have at least one page of Flash content loaded per day has dropped from around 80% in 2014 to below 8% in early 2018. I had reported this in March 2018 in the German blog post Adobe Flash im Sturzflug.

Trends in Web-Clients

Then I got new numbers about Flash’s decline: The share of Adobe Flash in use dropped to 4.9% as of April 19, 2018 (see the table above).


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Microsoft’s timeline for Flash exit

In the article mentioned above I have also outlined Microsoft’s timetable, which determines how to reduce the support for Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (in Windows 8.x/10):

  • Since 2017 and 2018, Microsoft Edge has been asking users if they want to display Flash content in their browsers. Consent is given on the first visit to a site that requires Flash. Internet Explorer allows Flash to be displayed during this time without further request.
  • From mid-2019 until the end of 2019, Microsoft planned to disable Flash by default in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. However, the user can activate Flash in both browsers. Microsoft Edge then asks at each session whether Flash content on a site should be run.
  • From the end of 2020, the ability to run Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer will be removed in all supported versions of Microsoft Windows. Then Flash is dead in Windows.

This is the status I know of Microsoft so far. At least with a short internet search I couldn’t find anything new.

Also in Chrome 76 the Flash-Player should be deactivated by default (see also). In mid-June 2019 Computerworld took a status picture in this article – the browsers deactivate the Flash Player, but support is planned until the end of 2020.

No flash updates for Windows for 2 months now

Until now, Adobe Flash was more known as a changing security vulnerability, and Adobe had to release security updates for the player at least monthly. Occasionally, there have even been special updates to close critical vulnerabilities that have been exploited.

Windows users had therefore become accustomed to the fact that every patchday (2nd Tuesday of the month) an update for Microsoft’s Adobe Flash Player was also distributed. In July and August 2019, however, these updates failed to appear – which of course fuels speculation.

Just to make clear: Adobe released some bugfixes in July and August – it’s discussed in the Flash articles of this blog. But Microsoft does not pass these updates on to users of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Microsoft Chat: No more Flash security updates

It is a statement that seems to contain explosive power, which I received from a German blog reader as a comment. Since there have been no Adobe Flash updates for Windows 10 for two months now, blog reader Nick has asked Microsoft for details. Nick posted the following statement from Microsoft, he got from a MS Chat session:

According to contact with Microsoft support (chat), Flash Player is no longer supported by Microsoft in Windows 10. Microsoft no longer distributes security updates for Flash Player.

Because Flash Player is built into Windows 10, it cannot be manually uninstalled.

Further information: The player will be removed by the manufacturer with the next updates, you cannot uninstall it now. In previous versions of Windows, Adobe provided a tool to uninstall the player. Unfortunately there is no such tool for Windows 10.

These statements should, in my opinion, be very strongly taken with care. Let’s take a look at the core statements.

Adobe Flash can’t be uninstalled

That the Adobe Flash Player is integrated into Windows 10 (and Windows 8.1) and cannot be uninstalled is true. I mentioned the topic in my German blog post Windows 10: Adobe Flash entfernen.

There are ways to remove the Flash Player from Windows 10. The problem: With every (feature) update, the player comes back to the system. In corporate environments, however, administrators have the option of deactivating the Flash Player via group policies. The above statement, that Flash can’t be uninstalled/removed by a user ist therefor true.

Flash no longer receives security updates

The statement that Microsoft no longer provides security updates for Flash Player should get a big question mark at this point! As long as Adobe Flash is integrated in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, Microsoft will roll out security updates provided by Adobe in my opinion.

Maybe the information obtained from the Microsoft chat was interpreted incorrectly in context. I’m not sure, who is the chat partner from Microsoft – I know from Microsoft Answers that service providers from Asia (India etc.) are active there – and the quality of the delivered answers is at least to be questioned. Here we have to wait and see!

Flash will be removed by update

The last statement from the Microsoft Chat is, ‘The player will be removed from the manufacturer with the next updates’. That would indeed be a very interesting development. I wouldn’t put it entirely in the realm of speculation, but I’m not sure, that that really happens in 2019. So far there is nothing official known to me personally.

This action would make sense, but would be contrary to the above exit schedule published by Microsoft. The telemetry data may show that the Adobe Flash Player is no longer in use. Users who are still dependent on Flash could then use the Chrome browser or Firefox with its addin. Let’s just wait and see what really happens. If Microsoft removes Flash from Windows, it will definitely be officially announced – possibly this month.

Addendum: In fact, Microsoft made an announcement in August 2019 – everything will stay with the old timetable – by the end of 2020 Flash will be out. Details can be found in the blog post Microsoft: Flash in Browser will be removed end of 2020!.


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1 Response to Windows 10: Is Microsoft removing Flash support?

  1. Facebook says:

    Flash is inbuild software of Microsoft windows. Now the Adobe flash is breaking collaboration with Window. At the end of 2020, the Flash update will end and the Adobe Flash Player will no longer be available for download.

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