Binary browser plugins using the 1990s-era NPAPI (“Netscape Plugin API”, the very name betraying its age) will soon be almost completely squeezed off the Web. Microsoft dropped NPAPI support in Internet Explorer 5.5, and its Edge browser in Windows 10 also drops support for ActiveX plugins. Google’s Chrome started phasing out NPAPI support in April this year and dropped it entirely in September.
Now it’s Firefox’s turn. Netscape’s open source descendent will be removing NPAPI plugin support by the end of 2016. Some variants of the browser, such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows, already lack this plugin support.
Mozilla’s plans resemble Microsoft’s and Google’s in more than one way. There’s one plugin that traditionally used NPAPI that’s special: Flash. Chrome and Edge both embed and update their own versions of the Flash plugin, and even after 2016, Firefox will continue to support Flash. Though the scope and capabilities of HTML5 have continued to grow, Flash remains a significant part of the Web, especially for interactive content such as games. Many of these uses are declining, but support for Adobe’s technology will still be a practical necessity in a general purpose browser at the end of 2016.