The Soon Demise Of The Web Browser Plugin

Browser plug-ins are on their way out. Apple’s iOS has never supported plug-ins, Flash is long-discontinued for Android, and the new version of IE for Windows 8 doesn’t support most plug-ins. Chrome will soon be blocking traditional NPAPI browser plug-ins.

The web isn’t going in reverse and losing features. There’s a good reason browser plug-ins are going away, and the web will be better once they’re gone. Browser developers are integrating plug-in features into browsers themselves.

Note that this doesn’t apply to extensions or add-ons, only plug-ins that run on websites like Flash, Silverlight, and the terribly insecure Java plug-in.

Browser plug-ins were very necessary when they were created. At the time, browsers were fairly immature. Worse yet, browser development eventually came to a standstill. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 was released in 2001 around the time Windows XP was originally released. As Microsoft had “won” the browser wars and were on top, they decided to pull their developers off Internet Explorer and stop developing IE entirely. The next version of Internet Explorer, IE 7, was released in 2006, over five years later. IE 7 and even IE 8, released 8 years later in 2009, were a fairly small improvements over IE 6.

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