Plug-ins were essential to web browser back in the early days of the Internet, because they dramatically expanded the functionality of the browsers by adding support for things like Java and Silverlight. The downside to plug-ins, however, was that they caused numerous performance and stability issues, and were ridiculous susceptible to hacking, which is why they’ve largely been replaced by things like HTML 5. Now that there’s a viable replacement for plug-ins, Google has decided to remove them from Chrome entirely, and Mozilla has announced that it’ll be doing the same thing with Firefox by the end of next year. It’s also important to note that plug-ins are completely separate from add-ons.
Google Chrome recently dumped support for plugins such as Java and Silverlight, and now it’s Firefox’s turn. Late Thursday, Mozilla announced on its blog that Firefox would stop supporting plugins based on the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) architecture by the end of 2016. For many years, NPAPI plugins helped browsers add functionality such as gaming, rich interactive maps, and video support. But plugins also came with problems such as security vulnerabilities, stability issues, and performance drawbacks. The Web standards community overcame these problems by creating native functionality, such as HTML 5 video, in order to do away with plugins. For Mozilla’s Firefox, that journey will end at an unspecified date in 2016, three years after Firefox first started restricting plugin behavior with click-to-play functionality. Even though plugins are going away, Flash will continue to receive special status in Firefox, as it does with Chrome. Although it’s falling out of fashion, Flash video and Flash-based ads are still widely available online. Once Flash becomes less pervasive support for it will likely disappear, and many companies are working toward that end. Amazon, for example, recently announced it would ban Flash-based ads.