Adobe Flash Player is software used to run content created on the Adobe Flash platform, such as viewing multimedia content, executing rich internet applications, and streaming audio and video. The player is distributed as freeware and can run from a web browser, as a browser plug-in, or on supported mobile devices. The plug-in can be downloaded for free, and regardless of browser type — whether Internet Explorer, Mozilla, or Chrome — it’s backward compatible, meaning it’s compatible with earlier versions.
Flash Player runs SWF files, which the Flash file format for displaying animated vector graphics, multimedia, and ActionScript on the Web. These files can contain animations or applets of varying degrees of interactivity and function. Once a file is created, it can be played, working either as a browser plug-in or as a standalone player.
Although Adobe Illustrator can generate SWF files through its export function, it cannot edit or open them. Other third-party programs can build SWF files such as Multimedia Fusion 2, Captivate, and SWiSH Max.
Flash Player once had a large user base as it was the common format for web games, animations, and graphical user interface elements. Since then, It has become increasingly criticized for its performance, consumption of battery on mobile devices, security vulnerabilities, and closed platform nature.
In July 2017, Adobe announced that it will end support in December 2020 and encouraged the use of open HTML5 standards in place of Flash. This announcement was coordinated with Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, so all major web browsers removed the Flash Player in 2020.
In October 2020, Microsoft released a preview of Windows 10 and 8.1 update, which removes the needed components from IE. Big Sur, a MacOS released in November 2020, removed software compatibility for Flash Player. Starting January 12, 2021, Adobe will block content from running entirely.