Mozilla today announced its intention to remove Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugin support from Firefox “by the end of 2016.” The company has been working, along with other web proponents, to implement functionality like streaming video, advanced graphics, and gaming features that used to be available only via NPAPI plugins.
NPAPI plugins are seen as a problem because of their negative impact on a browser’s security, speed, and stability, not to mention the complexity of the code base. As Mozilla noted, other browser makers have also ditched NPAPI plugins. Google dropped support in April with the release of Chrome 42, and Microsoft killed them with the launch of Edge in July.
For years now, Firefox has allowed for manual plugin activation, letting users activate plugins only when they became necessary. Furthermore, new Firefox platforms do not have to support an existing ecosystem of users and plugins, so platforms such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows will launch without plugin support.
Mozilla recommends that websites and publishers that currently use plugins such as Silverlight or Java should “accelerate their transition to Web technologies.” You have until the end of next year to ditch your reliance on plugins. (If you use Java applets, for example, Oracle recommends switching to plugin-free solutions such as Java Web Start.)
Just like Google and Microsoft, Mozilla is making an exception for Flash:
Because Adobe Flash is still a common part of the Web experience for most users, we will continue to support Flash within Firefox as an exception to the general plugin policy. Mozilla and Adobe will continue to collaborate to bring improvements to the Flash experience on Firefox, including on stability and performance, features and security architecture.
Mozilla is also working with Unity to enable Unity-based content directly in the browser without plugins. If you’re an interested developer, Unity has shared an updated roadmap for its Web Player technology.
Last but not least, keep in mind that Mozilla is making major changes to Firefox add-on development, also with more focus on Web technologies.