In the past, browser plug-ins allowed new web features to be developed when browser development stagnated. And they have proven to be a problem from security, cross-platform support and stability points of view. They also render content differently and can’t be integrated with web pages in the same way standard HTML code can.
Today browser development is rapid and aligned with web standards. There is a competition between a variety of web browsers and even Microsoft is making an attempt to adhere to web standards in a way they never did in the past.
Many of the plug-in features are now being introduced in the form of built-in browser features. Here’s what’s replacing the most popular plug-ins:
- Flash: Flash is already replaced for video playback by HTML5 video (e.g. YouTube does not use Flash as its default player since January 2015). New HTML5 features are developed for animation.
- Java: Java is already being phased out, as insecure.
- Silverlight: Microsoft is ending development on Silverlight. Netflix, the biggest user of Silverlight, is moving to HTML5 video playback.
Plug-ins are still necessary for the moment, but they’re on their way out. Apple’s iOS has never supported plug-ins, Flash is long-discontinued for Android, Chrome will be blocking traditional NPAPI browser plug-ins in September and providing modern alternatives, e.g. PPAPI (Pepper API). The latest version Mozilla’s Firefox browser now blocks Adobe’s software by default.
Microsoft Edge doesn’t support ActiveX plug-ins, although it does have built-in Flash support. Windows 10 still includes Internet Explorer 11 which is compatible with ActiveX plug-ins.
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