Chrome 55 pushes Flash into the background

Chrome 55 is here with the promise of defaulting to HTML5 instead of Flash for most of the web—though as far as we can tell that's not quite the case.

Chrome version 55 rolled out late last week and drove another nail in the coffin for Flash on the web. Google announced in August that Chrome 55 would default to HTML5 video instead of Flash, effectively blocking Adobe’s web plugin from running on most sites. The company has yet to confirm that Chrome 55 did in fact roll out defaulting to HTML5. We have asked Google for comment and will update this story should the company respond.

Part of the original plan, which actually reaches all the way back to May, was that Flash would be click-to-play on sites that were still exclusively using Flash, although a select number of sites would be “whitelisted” to use Chrome’s Flash functionality automatically.

More recently, it appears that Google adjusted that plan to avoid too many annoying prompts to enable Flash, according to a Google slide deck. Instead of a whitelist, Google plans on determining whether or not to allow Flash with a metric called “Site Engagement.” This metric is based on the browsing habits of each individual user.

Instead of constantly prompting you to enable the Adobe plugin, Flash will just plain work on sites that you visit frequently, according to the slide deck. Sites that you don’t visit very often will prompt you to enable Flash, but your choices will stick if you visit those sites again.

Chrome's Site Engagement gives each site you visit a score based on how often you go there. If you’re interested, you can find out the SE scores for the sites you visit on a regular basis right now by typing chrome://site-engagement/ into your Chrome address bar and hitting Enter.

The plan, based on the slide deck, is to set the required SE score for automatically enabling Flash to 1. In other words, most sites you visit will automatically enable Flash right now; however, by July 2017 Google will increase the required SE score to 100. At that point you will be prompted to enable Flash on sites that score below that number the first time you visit them after the policy change.

That’s what I was able to piece together, anyway. We’re confirming with Google how Site Engagement will work and will update this story should the company respond.

Why this matters: Flash was a useful tool for allowing people to view animation during the early days of the web. But it’s usefulness has been surpassed by HTML5 technologies that are more efficient, secure, and less prone to crashes. Flash still isn’t dead by a longshot, but this is one more step that will help phase out Adobe’s plugin. The end of Flash is an effort that other browsers are also making, including Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags FirefoxadobesafariflashchromeMicrosoft Edge

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?