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7 Reasons Why Browser Plug-Ins Are Being Phased Out (Part 2)

by | Feb 24, 2016

Snowbound is running a three-part blog series on the end of applets and what the future holds for web applications. Check back on Friday for the final installment:

Part 1 (Monday): The Clock is Ticking to Replace Your Java Applet
Part 2 (Wednesday): Why Browser Plug-Ins are Being Phased Out
Part 3 (Friday): What to Look For in an HTML5 Viewer

In Part 2, Snowbound’s Sr. Sales Engineer, Ed Berberian, takes a look at the reasons why browser plug-ins are going by the wayside…

1. Security: The plug-ins that browsers use are often times less secure than the browsers themselves. Java and Flash have been victims of some of the largest security threats on the web in the last few years. The fact that these plug-ins are the same for all browsers regardless of operating system means the threats make all operating systems equally vulnerable to the same attack.

2. No Sandboxing: Sandboxing is a security technique that restricts applications from gaining access to the important parts of your computer, thus isolating the malfunctioning application or malicious attacks that may channel though it. Most plug-ins like ActiveX do not run in this manner and thereby allow potentially harmful threats to enter the operating system.

3. Cross-Platform Problems: Plug-ins are developed by a single company, so it is not possible to have true cross platform support as the developing company only supports the plug-in on their platform. For example, Flash does not run on iOS devices and ActiveX does not run natively on browsers other than Internet Explorer. HTML5 is an open standard that allows the applications to run across multiple platforms.

4. Stability: Plug-ins themselves are a major contributor to browser crashes. These plug-ins provide the support for some of these applications to run in the browser so the applications themselves become slaves to the willingness and competency of the plug-ins.

5. Flash: Flash has been almost completely phased out of all modern HTML5 applications, as it is no longer needed to support the many different tasks that older browsers depended on it for.

6. Java: As Java plug-ins have become the leading cause of attacks, their security has become impossible to manage.

7. ActiveX: ActiveX is just Microsoft’s version of all these plug-ins. It was created to allow functionality in the browser. Again, HTML5 development has made these functions available without the use of ActiveX. Microsoft’s ActiveX is a culmination of all the reasons browser plug-ins have seen the end of their usefulness–encompassing security issues, outdated support, limited to Internet Explorer, and general stability.

Come back on Friday for a discussion about HTML5 viewing technology…


Ed Berberian has managed the sales engineering staff and project management teams at Snowbound Software for the last 7 years. He is an expert on Snowbound’s VirtualViewer products and HTML5 viewing technology, as well as managing middle to long-term projects that involve a range of software solutions and implementations. He specializes in maintaining the client-vendor relationship throughout the process.