Microsoft has clarified its timeline for removing support for Adobe Flash from Windows on the new Chromium-based Edge, legacy Edge and Internet Explorer (IE) 11 browsers. Microsoft is following through with plans it announced along with Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla in 2017 to end support for Flash by December 2020. "Microsoft is ending support for Adobe Flash Player on Microsoft Edge (both the new Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Edge Legacy) and Internet Explorer 11 at the end of 2020," the company said on the Microsoft Edge blog. So there are no changes to Microsoft's general policy for Windows consumers regarding Flash Player, which has largely been replaced by open web standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. Adobe also will not issue security updates after December 2020.
Microsoft has released a Windows update that removes Adobe's Flash Player before it reaches end of support on December 31, 2020. Update KB4577586 is part of Microsoft's effort to follow through with plans it announced along with Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla in 2017 to end support for Flash by December 2020. The Flash-removing update is available for all supported versions of Windows 10 and Windows Server, as well as Windows 8.1. In September, Microsoft confirmed it was ending support for Adobe Flash Player on its Chromium-based Edge and legacy Edge browsers as well as Internet Explorer 11 at the end of 2020. But the company also detailed future enterprise support options for customers that need to retain Flash for line-of-business applications.
Microsoft has released an optional Catalog update that removes Adobe Flash from Windows 10 and prevents it from being reinstalled, paving the way for the eventual death of the app in 2021. However, as Bleeping Computer noted, the update (KB4577586) only removes the Flash version bundled into Windows 10, and not any standalone versions you've installed yourself. It doesn't remove Flash from Microsoft Edge or other browsers, either. Windows 10 Flash support will officially die at the end of this year, with no further updates for Internet Explorer 11 and the legacy (non-Chromium) version of Edge by December. The latest version of Edge, using Google's Chrome engine, will lose Flash support in January 2021.
After deciding to postpone its February patches for a month, Microsoft released one critical security update for Windows on Tuesday that contains Flash Player patches released by Adobe Systems last week. The new security bulletin, identified as MS17-005, is rated critical for Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, and moderate for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. On these Windows versions, Flash Player is bundled by default with Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, so Microsoft delivers patches for it through Windows Update. This month's Flash Player patches were released by Adobe on February 14 and address 13 vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution. Typically Adobe releases patches on the same day as Microsoft, a day known in the industry as Patch Tuesday.
On December 31, Adobe Flash Player will go out of support. A new Windows patch, however, will allow you to get a jump on things. Microsoft detailed the process to remove support for Adobe Flash Player as part of a new support document, which links to the patch itself for various Windows platforms. As Microsoft warns, however, the process is a one-way street: Once installed, the patch cannot be uninstalled--though you could reinstall Windows if you were desperate. Adobe, in conjunction with browser makers Microsoft and Google, announced three years ago that Adobe Flash Player would be shelved by the end of 2020.