It’s been a long time coming, Google has come forward and said that it will remove Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) from Chrome. The Mountain View giant also said that this will improve browser’s speed, security, stability and reduce complexity in the code base. Google also provided the info when will this happen, the company will block all plugins in January 2015, disable support in April 2015 and they will remove support for NPAPI completely in September 2015, which means that the support will be completely removed in less than a year from now. As I already mentioned, this has been a long time coming, Google announced that it will remove support for NPAPI back in September 2013. Back then, company also mentioned that only six NPAPI plugins were used at the time, by more than 5% of users. Google also provided a timeframe back then by saying: “before the end of 2014, but the exact timing will depend on usage and user feedback.”
Google missed the timeframe a bit, despite the fact NPAPI usage has been declining ever since. Here are some usage stats for October 2014: Silverlight (11% of Chrome users, down from 15%), Google Talk (7% of Chrome users, down from 8.7%), Java (3.7% of Chrome users, down 8.9%), Facebook Video (3% of Chrome users, down from 6%), Unity (1.9% of Chrome users, down from 9.1%) and Google Earth (0.1% of Chrome users, down from 9.1). This is just a part of popular plugins which are currently whitelisted and therefore allowed in Chrome, in January 2015, Google will remove the whitelist and block those plugins by default. Google did mention that users will still be allowed to use NPAPI plugins for certain sites by clicking on the “Plug-in blocked” message and choosing the “Always allow plug-ins…” option. Keep in mind that Google will provide an override for advanced users (“enable-dnpapi” flag) and enterprises (Enterprise Policy) to temporarily re-enable NPAPI. That move is necessary according to Google considering that a small number of users will still need to use NPAPI. In September 2015, workaround will be removed and the company will permanently remove Chrome support for NPAPI. Google might still change its decision and once again delay the removal of NPAPI support, but I doubt that will happen, so get ready.