Web plugins were quite useful to upgrade the web browsing experience but things are completely different now. Mozilla has announced that it intends to remove support for web plugins by the end of 2016.
The company reveals in a blog post that it will remove support for most Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins. These plugins are claimed to be "a source of performance problems, crashes and security incidents". Firefox started the process of removing web plugin support several years ago with the introduction of manual plugin activation. New platforms like 64-bit Firefox for Windows are planned to be launched without plugin support.
Adobe Flash will continue to be available on Mozilla's Firefox as an exception to its general plugin policy. Although Mozilla temporary blocked Flash support in Firefox in July, it now says that Flash plugin will get some performance improvements directly from Adobe to enhance the Flash content experience on the web browser.
The web browser maker has also partnered with Unity to enable Unity-based content to be available directly in the web browser without requiring any third-party plugins. Besides, websites and publishers that are currently using plugins such as Silverlight or Java are being recommended to enable new web technologies or exclusive Firefox add-ons.
As Java is among the widely-used web sources for many webmasters, Mozilla is closely working with the Oracle Java Platform Group to provide a "smooth transition" for sites that use Java. There are some plugin-free solutions like Java Web Start that would replace the currently used Java applets on sites to deliver a smoother experience.
"The Mozilla team wants to work closely with affected publishers to make this transition as painless as possible," said Benjamin Smedberg, Firefox's quality engineering manager at Mozilla. "The Web provides an increasingly rich environment which should eliminate the need for plugins, and we are eager to continue improving the Web platform for any use cases where plugins may still be required."
Mountain View, California-based Mozilla is not the lone web browser company that is removing web plugins. Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome have already stopped support for legacy plugins. This clearly marks the end of web plugins that were highly popular among web users.