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Firefox looks to kill off Flash

Barry Collins
17 Feb 2015
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New experiment allows Firefox to play Flash video without a plugin

The experimental version of the Firefox browser is now able to play back selected Flash videos without first having to install Adobe's software. The Flash plugin is one of the biggest malware targets on PCs, not least because users hate having to upgrade the nagging Adobe product.

Mozilla is attempting to work around that problem in Firefox with a new project called Shumway, which is capable of playing Flash content without Adobe's own plugin. This is being tested on selected content in the Nightly version of the browser, which is updated every day with experimental new features and code. 

"The Firefox Nightly channel now uses Shumway to play Flash videos on Amazon.com," Mozilla announced in an update to users of the test browser. "The Shumway team has been improving compatibility with Flash video players and will whitelist more Flash video sites soon."

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Currently, Shumway will only handle the product videos on the Amazon shopping site, and not films or TV shows delivered by Amazon Instant Video, which use the Microsoft Silverlight plugin. The test is restricted to the Nightly build of the browser on Windows and OS X machines, although features trialled in that highly unstable build are often later transferred to the mainstream version of the browser.

Shumway processes Flash instructions using its own JavaScript module. Mozilla hopes it will eventually be used to display Flash advertising, without the need for the risky plugins. 

Firefox rival Google Chrome has a Flash player built into the browser, unlike Firefox, which requires users to install and maintain the plugin separately. This can lead to users running outdated versions of Flash, leaving them more vulnerable to security flaws.  

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