From an IT management point of view, browser plug-ins are a nuisance: they’re one more thing to maintain and deploy. So from that point of view the news that Chrome is going to drop its support for NPAPI, the plug-in architecture originally developed for Netscape, can only count as a welcome development.
The official blog for Chromium (the open-source project upon which Chrome is based) makes the point well: “NPAPI’s 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity.” Given how many functions once handled by plug-ins are now natively supported, this shouldn’t cause too much drama.
But what does this mean for users? From January 2014, plug-ins will automatically be blocked by Chrome. Six plug-ins which are still widely used will be automatically whitelisted as exceptions: Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Java, Google Talk and Facebook Video. Administrators will also be able to whitelist other plug-ins, but that feature is scheduled to be dropped by the end of 2014.
The change also means Google won’t allow NPAPI-based plug-ins in the Chrome Web Store. Existing plug-ins can be updated through until May 2014, but will be dumped from the store in September 2014.
Saying Goodbye to Our Old Friend NPAPI [The Chromium Blog]