Chrome will make Flash player a last resort as soon as fall

An 'HTML5 by Default' proposal would kick Adobe's often-maligned plugin to the curb.

Reuters/Stephen Lam

We've come a long, long way from the time when Google was praising Adobe Flash as if it were a cornerstone of the internet. The internet firm has quietly proposed an "HTML5 by Default" initiative for Chrome that would make Flash more of an if-you-must backup than a must-have. The web browser would pick the HTML5 web standard for content when given the choice -- when it isn't an option, it would ask you to activate Flash. It'd skip that activation prompt for the 10 most popular sites using Flash (currently including YouTube, Facebook and Twitch), but only for a year. You'd first see HTML5 by Default in the open source Chromium browser in the fourth quarter of this year, with regular Chrome likely following soon afterward.

Google has certainly given its share of clues that Flash is on the way out, such as axing some forms of Flash ads. However, this would be the biggest push yet if it's approved as-is. As the company's Anthony LaForge says, it's an acknowledgment of the "maturity" of HTML5. The plugin-free format can deliver a lot of what Flash does, just without the slowdowns, runaway battery consumption, security holes and crashes. Between this and existing HTML5-first efforts from rival browsers, it's evident that Adobe's proprietary tech is fading away.