April 7, 2016 11:03 am

Putting Users in Control of Flash

One of our top priorities in building Edge has been that the web should be a dependably safe, performant, and reliable place for our customers. To that end, we’re introducing a change to give users more control over the power and resources consumed by Flash. With the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, Microsoft Edge will intelligently auto-pause content that is not central to the web page. Windows Insiders can preview this feature starting with Windows 10 build 14316.

Peripheral content like animations or advertisements built with Flash will be displayed in a paused state unless the user explicitly clicks to play that content. This significantly reduces power consumption and improves performance while preserving the full fidelity of the page. Flash content that is central to the page, like video and games, will not be paused.

Flash has been an integral part of the web for decades, enabling rich content and animations in browsers since before HTML5 was introduced.  In modern browsers, web standards pioneered by Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Apple, Mozilla, and many others are now enabling sites to exceed those experiences without Flash and with improved performance and security.  This transition to modern web standards has benefited users and developers alike.  Users experience improved battery life when sites use efficient web standards, lowering both memory and CPU demands.  Developers benefit as they are able to create sites that work across all browsers and devices, including mobile devices where Flash may not be available.

We encourage the web community to continue the transition away from Flash and towards open web standards.  Standards like Encrypted Media Extensions, Media Source Extensions, Canvas, Web Audio, and RTC offer a rich way to deliver similar experiences with increased performance and security.  We will continue to work within the W3C to ensure standards unblock  all developers to fully transition away from Flash.

We’re aligned with other browsers in this transition from Flash towards a modern standards-based web. Over time, we will provide users additional control over the use of Flash (including content central to the page) and monitor the prevalence of Flash on the web.

– John Hazen, Principal Program Manager Lead, Microsoft Edge

Updated April 8, 2016 12:03 pm

Join the conversation

  1. Amazing that Flash is still even used/popular these days, especially since Silverlight did the honorable thing and fell on its own sword. In contrast, Flash has been nothing but a nuisance, not only in bucking the standards and continuing to pave a road that wants to drive on, but making the road full of potholes and security missteps. Seems like the whole past year was article after article of the failings of Flash.

    Why is the community even supporting this albatross? Especially when the power of HTML5/JS grows and can pretty much do everything Flash can do, but in a compliant and interoperable — not to mention SECURE — manner.

    In much the same way the (MSFT) community is asking for a return of Silverlight in a new standards-compliant, interoperable HTML5/JS form, we should also demand the same from Adobe to create a new version of their standards-breaking (and IT-breaking, even) product so that it plays nicely with all the others and is on the same page like the rest of us have accepted (albeit some of us more slowly than others!).

    Completely baffling that we are even having this discussion (or should I say, rant? LOL). Why is Adobe so special and has allowed to continue to break the internet with their inferior, security-riddled product?

    • Show me just one example of playing a dynamically-loaded playlist of sound files on Edge, Chrome, and iOS without any browser-detection code being used to select different code paths.

      Everyone repeats and repeats and harps and claims HTML5 is here, but hardly any of it actually works. IE/Edge don’t actually support Canvas; you need to use an interop layer to translate the Canvas API to IE’s nonstandard interpretation of it. Mobile Safari only allows audio if it’s in a static tag present from the time the page was loaded, and ignores all JavaScript-driven changes to that tag after it first starts playing; you get *one* audio source per static tag, and then never again. Firefox and Chrome are the only browsers to support OGG, despite it being the only compressed audio format that doesn’t have licensing and patent trolls still climbing all over it for the foreseeable future, like MP3 and AAC.

      Flash is ugly and clumsy. But it also has its own sandbox, separate from the page which loaded it. Meanwhile, every JavaScript HTML5 ad in the world gets handed full access to the page DOM and JavaScript namespace because JavaScript doesn’t have any notion of security or sandboxing at a level more granular than the `window` object. Good job, so-called security experts.

  2. How do we determine non-central content? Is it its location on the webpage? Its size? A combination? Is is still being determined?

  3. All we really need is Flash OFF by default with the ability to white-list certain domains. Keep it simple. “Intelligent auto pause” sounds like something bound to get it wrong, at least part of the time.

    Instead of an “Always on” or “Always Off” option like there is now, it should be:

    On, Off, Auto (if you must), Selective

    Selective would allow the user to maintain a list of domains Flash is allowed to run on. Your “auto detection” could be used to expose a button at top right that suggest “white listing” the current site because Flash was detected.

  4. What I’d like to see is to bring back the ability to enable flash on selected web sites.
    On IE you could disable flash but then tell it to enable flash on certain websites.
    I don’t want flash enabled generally but there are certain sites that need it, like the bbc (despite having standards based pages that they send to iPads).

  5. Actually, I would like the option to have ALL animated content load in a paused state.
    TL;DR; I have a metered Internet plan that gets eaten into by animations.

    Not just Flash.
    Not just peripheral content.

    This has Nothing to do with memory, CPU or battery usage.

    It has Everything to do with DATA usage.

    I use a LTE hotspot for my home Internet. This is my only viable alternative. Even with a “generous” data cap (30GB), I have had to install ad blockers to remove the peripheral animated content (Flash and HTML5). I would rather not, but animated ads are the most intensive data hogs out there and they come with just about every page I load. I also installed Flash-control plugins in every browser to load the primary Flash content in a paused state. Most such pages that I open are articles that include the same material in text (which I prefer to read) and have a constant stream of unrelated videos that autoplay when the primary content is complete. Add to that the tendency of audio to play from background tabs in addition to the desired immediate content of the foreground and you have an audio cacophony, as well.

    BTW – those third-party Flash-control plugins tend to be low-quality, as well. They don’t behave like an integrated part of the browser. It’s really sad that I have to install a plugin that detracts from my browsing experience just to keep within my data plan limits. The ad blocker is better designed and supported, but I’d rather not have to use it.

    If ALL animated content were paused by default, I would be able to enjoy my browsing experience without having to shut down my connection for a few days at the end of the month and without having to install shoddy plugins.