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Tuesday, 24 September 2013 16:47

Google kills NPAPI in Chrome

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Google has announced it's killing off the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) in Chrome, blocking the plugins from January 2014.

Google said today it used anonymous Chrome usage data to estimate just six NPAPI plug-ins were used by more than 5% of users in the last month.

The tech giant warned that to “avoid disruption” for users it will temporarily whitelist the most popular NPAPI plugins:

  • Silverlight (launched by 15% of Chrome users last month).
  • Unity (9.1%).
  • Google Earth (9.1%).
  • Java (8.9%).
  • Google Talk (8.7%).
  • Facebook Video (6.0%).

Chrome's built-in Flash plugin and PDF viewer are unaffected because they don’t use NPAPI.

"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," the company said.

"The Chrome Web Store will also be phasing out NPAPI support. Starting today, no new Apps or Extensions containing NPAPI-based plug-ins will be allowed in the Web Store.

"Developers will be able to update their existing NPAPI-based Apps and Extensions until May 2014, when they will be removed from the Web Store home page, search results, and category pages. In September 2014, all existing NPAPI-based Apps and Extensions will be unpublished. Existing installations will continue to work until Chrome fully removes support for NPAPI."

Users and enterprise administrators will be able to whitelist specific plug-ins but only temporarily. Google also justified its decision by noting that NPAPI isn’t supported on mobile devices, and that rival Mozilla plans to block NPAPI plug-ins in December 2013.

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