Mozilla took one more step toward the extinction of Flash last week when it launched a version of its Firefox browser that can run content without the need for Adobe's Flash Player plugin.
Dubbed Project Shumway, after the real name of the cat-eating TV character ALF, the new technology should make the Firefox browser faster and more secure by loading Flash programs without the Flash Player. The feature only works on Amazon's product tour videos on Windows and OS X, and it's only available in the Nightly version of Firefox, which is the testing version of FIrefox optimized for touch and Windows 8. Future updates could support more websites as well as the browser's regular, non-Nightly edition. Windows XP and Linux users can also use Shumway, but they will need H.264 video decoders.
"The Firefox Nightly channel now uses Shumway to play Flash videos on Amazon.com," Mozilla programmer Chris Peterson said in a mailing list message. "The Shumway team has been improving compatibility with Flash video players and will whitelist more Flash video sites soon."
With Shumway, Mozilla is the latest company to dump Flash, which made a splash on the Web more than a decade ago due to its animation, game, graphics and video streaming capabilities. But these days, the Adobe Player's days look to be numbered. YouTube announced last month that HTML5 would be its new standard (though Flash remains a backup in case anything goes wrong), while Apple banished the format from the iPhone and Microsoft called for a better Web without plugins altogether.
Adobe itself is not involved with patching the integrated Flash Player that is part of Google Chrome or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Rather, Google and Microsoft take care of the patching process themselves when a new plugin version becomes available. Chrome first checks if there is an HTML5 version of the app before going to Flash Player as a last resort. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer continues to use Flash Player, but Microsoft hasn't been shy about investigating ways to replace it due to the multitude security flaws and safety issues inherent to the app.
Mozilla's new Shumway should make the internet a safer place to browse and help make the Web's eventual transition to HTML 5 easier. Flash had a good run, as anyone who has enjoyed games on Newgrounds and the antics of Homestar Runner cartoon series can attest, but the aging and vulnerable technology might face its final curtain sooner rather than later.