Adobe Flash was once the preferred foundation for state-of-the-art websites with animation, graphically rich menus, and streaming audio and video. However, it has since fallen out of favor and is now widely regarded as one of the curses of the internet. Flash Player’s near constant stream of updates and patches, relatively high resource consumption, inability to keep up with newly released browsers and platforms, and the seemingly endless series of security flaws (among others) led to its well-deserved, tainted reputation. The development of more powerful and safer alternatives in recent years led Adobe, along with some of its industry partners, to plan the death of Flash. In July 2017, it was announced that Adobe Flash Player will no longer be supported after December 31, 2020.
Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and many other technology companies have been systematically removing or limiting support for Adobe Flash for years. Last week, however, Microsoft went a step further and released a tool to remove the native 32-bit Flash player built into Windows.
KB4577586, currently available as an optional download from the Microsoft Update Catalog (for virtually every version / build of Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 and Server 2012), permanently removes the native Adobe Flash Player in case end-users or IT managers want to use nuclear weapons permanently it before it comes to the end of life.
However, in the bulletin announcing the update, Microsoft warns that unlike most other optional Windows updates, KB4577586 cannot be uninstalled. If removing Flash Player results in instability or incompatibility in a particular environment, there are only two ways to undo it: either restore the system to a previous restore point, or completely reinstall Windows and don’t install the update.
The team at BleepingComputer investigated the update and found that it only removed the native 32-bit player, which can be accessed through the Windows Control Panel. Manual installation of Flash Player using Adobe’s download and browser plug-ins (most of which are disabled by default in modern browsers) will remain with at least this current version of the update. As soon as the official death of Flash hits next month and Microsoft releases a definitive tool for wide public consumption through the Windows Update service, Flash removal may be more widespread.
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