Google Phasing Out NPAPI-based Plugins
September 26, 2013
By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer
While Netscape was once a power in the Internet browser market, Google (News - Alert) just announced that it will be deactivating the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) in Chrome. Much like when the company announced that they would be shuttering their reader application, this shutdown won’t be immediate or all at once. The company announced in a blog post that it will gradually remove support from the NPAPI that will start with blocking webpage-instantiated plugins for Chrome in January 2014.
Google made the decision to shut down its support for NPAPI plug-ins after looking at anonymous Chrome usage data. The company says that there are just six plugins that were actually used by more than 5 percent of users over the last month. In order to “avoid confusion” Google will actually whitelist the most popular NPAPI plugins. The company also underlined the fact that the built-in Flash plug-in and the PDF viewer would be left alone because they don’t actually use NPAPI.
The six NPAPI applications that won’t be killed off just yet include Silverlight, (which was launched by 15 percent of Chrome users last month), Unity and Google Earth (both 9.1 percent), Java (8.9 percent), Google Talk (8.7 percent) and Facebook (News - Alert) Video (6 percent). In addition to this move, Google has said that user and enterprise administrators will be able to whitelist other specific plug-ins though those permissions are just temporary.
Google said that it wants to have all NPAPI support removed from Chrome by the end of 2014. The company did add that the exact timing of when support was completely removed would depend somewhat on usage and user feedback. As part of the phase out, Google has officially stopped accepting Google Apps that include NPAPI-based plugins and is encouraging developers to update their NPAPI based applications through May of 2014. After May of next year, those applications that still rely on NPAPI plugins will be removed from the app store and search options.
Edited by Alisen Downey