Last week, Adobe released a new version, 18.104.22.168, of its popular Flash Player browser plugin for all platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Adobe has also announced that this will be the last new version of the plugin to be released for Linux, except for the version that comes bundled with Google’s Chrome browser.
The stated reason for the change (which is discussed further in the Flash Roadmap) is a move to a more modern plugin API, developed by Google, called “Pepper”:
… Adobe has been working closely with Google to develop a single modern API for hosting plugins within the browser (one which could replace the current Netscape plugin API being used by the Flash Player). The PPAPI, code-named “Pepper” aims to provide a layer between the plugin and browser that abstracts away differences between browser and operating system implementations.
The PPAPI is part of Google’s Native Client technology, which I discussed briefly last summer.
There is no doubt that the Netscape API is getting a bit long in the tooth, being nearly twenty years old, and that the PPAPI has some worthwhile improvements, including support for “sandboxing”, and easier access to HTML 5 capabilities. However, Microsoft’s Active X interface, used in Internet Explorer, has essentially the same problems as the Netscape API, yet Adobe will continue to provide new versions for it. But then no one should be surprised that these decisions are not made strictly on technical issues.
Adobe has said, to its credit, that it will continue to provide security updates for the Linux plugin, version 11.2, for five years.