Chrome Getting Rid of Apps and Plug-ins Based on Popular NPAPI

Google Chrome is phasing out all plug-ins based on the Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI) starting January.

NPAPI has a long and rich history. Developed for Netscape 2 in the late 1990s, NPAPI went on to become a popular cross Platform plug-in. It was used by many web browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera, Konqueror and Google Chrome.

But web technology has since moved on.

“Today's browsers are speedier, safer and more capable than their ancestors,” Justin Schuh, a Google Chrome security engineer, wrote Monday in a blog post. He also cited NPAPI’s older architecture as a leading cause of hangs, crashes and security incidents.

In addition, NPAPI is not supported on mobile devices and Mozilla plans to block NPAPI plug-ins in December 2013.

To ease the transition, starting next year, Chrome will whitelist NPAPI plugins currently used by more than 5% of Chrome users. Those include Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Google Talk, and Facebook Video. Even though Java was used by almost 9% of users, it was blocked for security reasons.

Before the end of next year, Chrome plans to completely nix all NPADI support. As of this week, Chrome is not allowing any new apps or extensions with NPAPI plug-in in the Chrome Web Store. Existing NPAPI apps and extension will be removed from the Web Store on May 2014.

Where standard web technologies are not sufficient, Google recommends developers use NaCl, Apps, Native Messaging API, or Legacy Browser Support to transition from NPAPI.

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