Mozilla has been steadily improving the Web platform to support features that were once only available via NPAPI plugins. Streaming video, advanced graphics, and gaming features have all become native Web APIs in the past few years. Mozilla continues to prioritize features that will make it possible for sites to switch away from plugins. Features such as clipboard access which used to require plugins are now available via native Web APIs. As browsers and the Web have grown, NPAPI has shown its age. Plugins are a source of performance problems, crashes, and security incidents for Web users.
Mozilla intends to remove support for most NPAPI plugins in Firefox by the end of 2016. Firefox began this process several years ago with manual plugin activation, allowing users to activate plugins only when they were necessary. This decision mirrors actions by other modern browsers, such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, which have already removed support for legacy plugins. Moreover, since new Firefox platforms do not have to support an existing ecosystem of users and plugins, new platforms such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows will launch without plugin support.
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.
As part of our plugin strategy, Mozilla and Unity are proud to jointly announce a close collaboration and an aligned roadmap that will enable Unity-based content to be experienced directly in the browser without plugins. As this technology continues to evolve, Unity has announced an updated roadmap for its Web Player technology.
What about Silverlight or Java plugins?
Websites and publishers which currently use plugins such as Silverlight or Java should accelerate their transition to Web technologies. The Web platform is powerful and can usually do everything that a plugin can do. In the rare cases where a site needs to extend Web technologies, the recommended solution is to develop the additional features as a Firefox add-on. Site maintainers should prepare for plugins to stop working in all versions of Firefox by the end of 2016.
Mozilla continues to work with the Oracle Java Platform Group to ensure a smooth transition for those web sites that use Java. More information from Oracle about Java transition plans can be found in a post from the Oracle team. Oracle recommends that sites currently using Java applets consider switching to plugin-free solutions such as Java Web Start.
The Mozilla team wants to work closely with affected publishers to make this transition as painless as possible. 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. Discussion about this announcement and any questions about the future of Firefox plugins should be directed to the Mozilla plugins development list.