Google plans to wield the axe to its Chrome browser by removing support for outdated plugins that date back to the sepia-tinged days of Netscape’s popular browser.
The firm plans to remove the final remnants of the Netscape Plugin API [NPAPI] technology by January 2015 and is aiming to persuade developers of browser extensions to use its Pepper Plugin API [PPAPI].
Google announced its intention to remove the NPAPI technology back in September 2013 and current versions of Chrome already block the vast majority of those plugins automatically. At the time Google approved a short whitelist of approved plugins that could still use it and from January those won’t even be accessible unless users intervene.
The next version of Chrome, which is set to hit the browser sector in April, will have NPAPI turned off by default and the plugins won’t run at all. According to The Register, a handful of “advanced users” will still be able to re-enable NPAPI support before even that is completely removed from the September 2015 version.
"Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven't completed the transition yet," said Google engineer Justin Schuh.
Removing support for NPAPI isn’t likely to affect many, after OS X users already lost support for the majority of NPAPI plugins when Google put the kibosh on the 32-bit version of the browser last week, the new 64-bit incarnation unable to run them. Certain Windows PCs will be affected by the news though the impact on anyone but advanced users is almost non-existent.
The 64-bit version was announced in August after a short testing period and it brought with it increased speed, security and stability, and Google warned at the time that NPAPI plugins wouldn’t work in 64-bit.