Now Microsoft is reversing the whitelist, blacklisting “the small number of sites that are still incompatible with the Windows experience for touch or that depend on other plug-ins.” According to the IEBlog that’s fewer than 4 percent of sites using Flash.
According to web survey company W3Techs, around 20 percent of all websites still use Flash in some fashion. The HTTPArchive puts that number somewhat higher at 35 percent in general, but 42 percent for the top 1,000 sites on the web. Unfortunately neither of those sources track whether or not Flash is an integral part of the sites that use it, or just used in advertisements on the site.
Whatever the case, despite the fact that the number of sites using Flash is declining, it’s clearly still a big part of the web.
Whitelisting every site on a site-by-site basis was cumbersome at best and often frustrating since sites that might have worked just fine could not simply because they had not made the list. Today’s change of heart for IE10 eliminates that problem and makes Windows 8 a bit more consistent, offering nearly the same Flash experience whether you’re in desktop or Metro mode.
If you’ve been testing the built-in version of Internet Explorer in Microsoft’s coming Windows 8, you may be vulnerable to security flaws in Adobe’s Flash plugin.
Like Google Chrome, IE 10 on Windows 8 bundles the Flash Player directly into the browser. Unlike Google Chrome, IE 10 isn’t yet getting Flash updates on time. Because the plugin is bundled Adobe’s auto-update tools don’t work, nor can users manually download and install updates.
The only way to update Flash in Windows 8 is through Windows Update. That means the job of making sure those updates get to users falls to Microsoft, which so far has not delivered.
A Microsoft spokesperson tells Webmonkey that the company is “working closely with Adobe to release an update for Adobe Flash in IE 10 to protect our mutual customers.” However, Adobe’s latest round of patches was released August 21 and there’s still been no update for IE 10 users. Microsoft says that the update will be available “shortly.”
The company also assures Webmonkey that this issue will be worked out before Windows 8 actually ships.
Part of the problem appears to simply be scheduling. Microsoft’s updates are generally released on the second Tuesday of each month, while Adobe typically patches Flash a week or two later. That window between updates is what currently leaves those testing Windows 8 vulnerable.
Microsoft tells Webmonkey that a plan is in the works to address the scheduling conflict and ensure that Windows 8 users don’t have a vulnerable version of Flash for two weeks every patch cycle. Microsoft didn’t offered any details beyond saying the company plans to “align our release schedule as closely to Adobe’s as possible.”
And now Adobe has limited access to Flash in the Google Play Store to any phone on this list of certified devices. For everyone else Flash on Android is a thing of the past.
The reasoning behind Adobe’s decision to pull Flash from the Google Play store is that any devices that don’t have Flash Player installed out of the box are, in Adobe’s words, “increasingly likely to be incompatible with Flash Player.”
There is a way around the new limitations if you’re a developer who needs access to Flash (or, presumably, a user who doesn’t mind hacking your phone): Flash Player for Android will remain available in Adobe’s archive of released Flash Player versions. It’s also worth noting that when we first wrote about the end of Flash on Google Play a number of readers let us know that the Flash plugin actually does seem to work with Android 4.1, so if you’ve just got to have it, head to the archives and give it a shot.
If you’ve been having trouble watching Flash movies in Firefox, you’re not alone.
Last week Adobe released Flash Player 11.3, with support for secure sandboxing in Firefox. Flash’s near ubiquity makes it a popular target for web-based attacks, but the new sandboxing means that even when such attacks succeed the damage is limited and won’t spill over into the rest of the browser or even the operating system.
Unfortunately for some Firefox fans, the Flash 11.3 update has also caused numerous problems.
Webmonkey has received quite a bit of email from users over the last few days, reporting everything from videos that won’t play to screen freezes and outright browser crashes. Most of the problems seem to affect Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, which suggests the new security sandboxing might be part of the problem.
In the mean time the only real solution is to downgrade to Flash 11.2. If you happen to have Real Player installed there is a more extensive workaround, but for everyone else Mozilla’s suggestion is to “uninstall Flash 11.3 and downgrade to Flash 11.2.” The Firefox Help Center has instructions for those with Real Player installed as well as those whose only option is to return to the more stable Flash 11.2.
We’ll be sure to let you know when a better solution is available.
The big news in this release is the new sandbox security settings for Firefox on Windows, which first showed up in the beta release earlier this year. Flash’s near ubiquity make it a popular target for web-based attacks, but the new sandboxing means that even when such attacks succeed the damage is limited and won’t spill over into the rest of the browser or even the operating system.
Mac users finally get an (optional) background updater with Flash 11.3. It works just like the updater that’s been available in Windows for some time — provided you allow automatic updates, the new updater will check with Adobe’s servers every 24 hours. If an update is available, the background updater can download and install it without interrupting your browsing session.
This release of Flash for OS X is also the first to support Apple’s Gatekeeper feature coming later this year in OS X 10.8. Gatekeeper checks a developer’s unique Apple Developer ID to verify that an application is not known malware. Flash 11.3 for OS X is the first release signed with an Apple Developer ID certificate, ensuring there will be no problems installing it on OS X 10.8.