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Flash currently optional, soon to be obsolete

In the case of rich online content, it's clear which direction history is moving.

One of the hallmarks of an overall push toward HTML5 has been the decline in the use of Flash to play online media. Interestingly enough, many thinkers in the digital space seem downright pleased with this move and ready to make the change in their Internet use. Old technology is not like outdated elements in other spaces. Individuals won't miss the Flash plugin the way they prize the sound of vinyl records.

When technologies grow old, they simply turn into liabilities, riddled with operability and security problems. If the rumblings from top professionals are any indication, the time has come for Flash to recede, replaced by newer and more effective ways to display content. Failing to heed the call for HTML5 conversion in both the mobile and desktop Web app realms may leave a company behind its peers and the wishes of the online establishment.

Already optional
There are still some elements of the Internet running on Flash technology. However, these are not common enough that the plugin should be enabled by default, according to tech blogger Kim Komando. She recently set out some guidelines about how to configure a browser to not display Flash content unless the user specifically chooses to do so on a case-by-case basis. The reason for this change is simple: security. Komando cited recent crises in which hackers actively exploited Flash flaws as evidence it's time to turn it off.

Needless to say, content producers still working in Flash will look at warning such as Komando's and reconsider their own strategies. If average Internet users have decided to switch Flash off for security reasons, they won't have access to these providers' rich media offerings. Urging people to switch Flash back on seems to be going against the tide of sentiment, so the answer is to change away from that format and to another that can display the same types of visual and audio information without plugins, such as HTML5.

Komando gave instructions for disabling Flash in many different types of Internet browser, from Safari to Chrome to Firefox, and specified that this is the main way to dodge attacks based in the language. A hacker may be counting on visitors to a website automatically triggering a Flash media player and in doing so being infected with malware. If the Flash code does not run, this whole situation will be averted. This is a PC problem, not mobile, as many modern tablets and smartphones don't support Flash to begin with.

Time to change
It seems inevitable that Internet users will end up without Flash, as thinkers keep making the case that they are better off without the plugin. Gizmodo's Eric Limer gave similar advice to Komando's, explaining that Flash began to fail the moment Steve Jobs declared it would not be part of the iOS device lineup. The iPhone and iPad shipped one iteration after another without Flash and instead of suffering for that choice, they became hugely popular. This was a sign that there could be an Internet post-Flash, and mobile developers have taken note. As mobile and desktop tech come closer, this change will likely not stay confined to small screens.

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