It looks like this is the end of the road for Adobe’s Flash Player on Windows, as update KB4577586 is permanently deleting the historic software. The software had an ‘end of support’ period since July 2017 when Adobe announced the date of December 31, 2020. All major web browsers plan to remove it by then, but Microsoft will not wait until the last moment for Windows 10, Server, and 8.1.
This removal is happening before the end of the support period to help customers test and validate their environments for any unforeseen negative impact this might have. If people still need the Adobe Flash Player but applied the update without realizing they will lose it, they will either have to use the “system restore” function or re-install their Windows OS and avoid installing KB4577586.
Those running Windows Server will get the update in early 2021, so there’s nothing urgent to deal with right now. Still, if you want to test your system and be certain about the process, you may grab the update package from here and install it manually. There have been no reports about anything troublesome accompanying this update, so it should go smoothly.
The Flash Player (Shockwave Flash) was created by Macromedia all the way back in January 1996, and Adobe bought it in 2005. It was meant to enable web browsers to playback multimedia content, execute rich internet applications, stream audio and video, and more. It remained free throughout its existence and reached its peak in 2013 when it had 400 million active users and over a billion installations.
However, and no matter Adobe’s efforts to maintain Flash, it was an aging project that performed badly, consumed a lot of battery on mobile devices, and was plagued by numerous vulnerabilities. HTML 5 was shaping to become a viable alternative for the Flash Player, and free of the many burdens that came with Adobe’s software, so focus was shifted there.
Steve Jobs decided to ditch Flash support for all iOS devices by 2010, and while Adobe objected to the validity of the given reasons, it became clear that Flash couldn’t go on for much longer. The company soon gave up development for mobile browsers and chose to focus on the development of tools that are meant for app creators, like Adobe AIR.
If you still need Flash, it means that you’re trying to run something far too old, so this may be a good time to consider fundamental changes. Flash is not secure, can be the reason for privacy breaches, and it will only get worse after the end of support date is reached.