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Google Banning Most Plugins in Chrome Starting Jan 2014

By - Source: Google | B 25 comments

Justin Schuh, Security Engineer and Plug-in Retirement Planner for Google Chrome, said on Monday that browser plug-ins based on the popular Netscape Plug-in API architecture will be blocked starting next year. The roll-out will be in stages, with webpage-instantiated NPAPI plug-ins blocked by default on the Stable channel in January 2014.

The most popular NPAPI plug-ins used in the Chrome browser include Silverlight (15 percent), Unity (9.1 percent), Google Earth (9.1 percent), Java (8.9 percent and is already blocked by default), Google Talk (8.7 percent) and Facebook Video (6 percent). These will be temporarily white-listed to avoid disruption to users, he said, for an unspecified amount of time.

"The Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI) ushered in an early era of web innovation by offering the first standard mechanism to extend the browser," Schuh explained. "In fact, many modern web platform features—including video and audio support—first saw mainstream deployment through NPAPI-based plug-ins. But the web has evolved. Today's browsers are speedier, safer, and more capable than their ancestors."

He said NPAPI's 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity. Because of this, Chrome will be phasing out NPAPI support over the coming year. In the short term, users and businesses will be able to white-list specific plug-ins, but eventually NPAPI support will be completely ripped out of the Chrome browser.

"We expect this to happen before the end of 2014, but the exact timing will depend on usage and user feedback," Schuh said. "Note that the built-in Flash plug-in and PDF viewer will be unaffected because they don't use NPAPI."

Google switched the Flash Player plug-in bundled with Chrome for Windows from NPAPI to a new plug-in architecture called Pepper Plugin API, or PPAPI, back in August 2012, and then made the switch in Chrome for Mac OS X one month later. Google's PPAPI forces plug-in code to run securely inside a sandbox, thus making Flash Player less susceptible to crashes.

As of Monday, the Chrome Web Store will be refusing new Apps and Extensions containing NPAPI-based plug-ins, and developers with current solutions offered on the platform will be able to make updates until they will be removed from the store's home page, search results and category pages in May 2014. In September 2014, all existing NPAPI-based Apps and Extensions will be unpublished. Installed Apps and Extensions will continue to work until support for NPAPI is removed at the end of 2014.

Schuh said developers relying on NPAPI can use alternatives where standard technologies are not yet sufficient, including NaCl, Native Messaging API, and Legacy Browser support. However, moving forward, the Chrome team is shooting to evolve the standards-based web platform to cover the scenarios currently served by NPAPI.

"We feel the web is ready for this transition," he said. "NPAPI isn't supported on mobile devices, and Mozilla plans to block NPAPI plug-ins in December 2013."

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    DiaSin , September 25, 2013 1:06 AM
    Will this affect adblock plus or has that already made the transition to the new API system?
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    DiaSin , September 25, 2013 1:06 AM
    Will this affect adblock plus or has that already made the transition to the new API system?
  • 3 Hide
    slicedtoad , September 25, 2013 1:23 AM
    @DiaSin
    It shouldn't, though that's what I was thinking when I read the title.
  • -3 Hide
    Sangeet Khatri , September 25, 2013 1:31 AM
    I think that it is good. Being a Linux user myself, I just hate that we cannot play most free games like Battlefield Pla4Free since they use Unity which is not available on Linux.
  • -4 Hide
    Sangeet Khatri , September 25, 2013 1:31 AM
    I think that it is good. Being a Linux user myself, I just hate that we cannot play most free games like Battlefield Pla4Free since they use Unity which is not available on Linux.
  • 6 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , September 25, 2013 1:44 AM
    Good thing I'm not using Chrome then...

    I don't like having decisions forced on me. Show a warning that they're unsafe, sure, but don't ban them outright.
  • 7 Hide
    DiaSin , September 25, 2013 2:28 AM
    Quote:
    Good thing I'm not using Chrome then...

    I don't like having decisions forced on me. Show a warning that they're unsafe, sure, but don't ban them outright.


    Mozilla is doing it too, and sooner. I doubt we will see all plugins going away anyway, anyone that really cares about their plugin will re-code it on the new API system and all will be golden.
  • 1 Hide
    rwinches , September 25, 2013 3:08 AM
    I just won't upgrade, until I see the choices I want
  • 2 Hide
    ps3hacker12 , September 25, 2013 4:47 AM
    Don't worry guys, this isn't really a problem, not many plugins nowadays use NPAPI anyway, this transition is for the better.
  • 1 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 25, 2013 5:30 AM
    Funny that Google uses the architecture extensively and the builtin flash plugin doesn't. Google argues it's due to crashes but I've found Chrome crashes on it's own fine when trying to open pages with flash.
  • 3 Hide
    Dyseman , September 25, 2013 7:16 AM
    Just don't jack with my POP-UP and AD-Blockers. Hell, this site alone, Ad-Blockers saves me from 23+ ads per page!
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , September 25, 2013 7:25 AM
    Exactly Dyseman, I did not realize how clean it keeps most sites until I do a fresh install on a system and browse a familiar site without plugins. All the sudden I'm bombarded with pop ups, hover pops, and ads coming from all over the place. If an ad just annoys the hell out of me, what makes these people think I'm going patronize their product or site?
  • 1 Hide
    EBT Technologies , September 25, 2013 8:31 AM
    If this is what Google will be doing, and you want to avoid banning to certain addons or plugins; our advice:
    "keep your old chrome browser with the old already-install plugins and addons." see?
  • 0 Hide
    EBT Technologies , September 25, 2013 9:00 AM
    If this is what Google will be doing, and you want to avoid banning to certain addons or plugins; our advice:
    "keep your old chrome browser with the old already-install plugins and addons." see?
  • 0 Hide
    mitch074 , September 25, 2013 12:45 PM
    If by any chance you can't have AdBlock working on Chrome any more (eventhough I don't thinkg AdBlock uses the NPAPI), just switch to Firefox: AdBlock+ is an extension (i.e. it uses the Firefox extension API, which is radically different from the NPAPI in that it runs inside the browser's sandbox using the browser's resources and is not an independent process), not a plugin.
  • 0 Hide
    anonymous_user , September 25, 2013 1:27 PM
    This article is talking about plugins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe PDF Reader plugin, etc. This will not affect extensions like AdBlock Plus. Learn the difference!
  • 1 Hide
    Dyseman , September 25, 2013 1:46 PM
    Quote:
    This article is talking about plugins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe PDF Reader plugin, etc. This will not affect extensions like AdBlock Plus. Learn the difference!


    Ah, ok then. But still... leave my adblocks alone! Extension or Plugin or Scriplet or whatever LOL I don't much care about the others really.
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , September 25, 2013 7:05 PM
    If AdBlockPlus goes, then so does Chrome.
  • 0 Hide
    programmin , September 26, 2013 6:29 AM
    Quote:
    I think that it is good. Being a Linux user myself, I just hate that we cannot play most free games like Battlefield Pla4Free since they use Unity which is not available on Linux.


    What do you mean? The Unity Integration plugin is only available in Ubuntu, not Windows.
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , September 26, 2013 7:08 AM
    Google not happy about adblock is the main reason for the move.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , September 26, 2013 5:43 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I think that it is good. Being a Linux user myself, I just hate that we cannot play most free games like Battlefield Pla4Free since they use Unity which is not available on Linux.


    What do you mean? The Unity Integration plugin is only available in Ubuntu, not Windows.


    Not the Unity window manager, the unity game engine.
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