Google recently announced they are removing support for Chrome plugins that use an old standard called NPAPI that goes back to the days of Netscape. This affects a lot of commonly used plugins, including Silverlight and Java. In fact at the time of the announcement, it was revealed that 15% of Chrome users have Silverlight installed. Google’s reasons for this are pretty valid — the old NPAPI architecture is the cause of many stability and security concerns.
So, how will this affect Geocortex customers? First, if you’re not using the Geocortex Viewer for Silverlight, then none of this applies to you. Similarly, if you control the browsers that Silverlight will be deployed to, then it’s probably not a problem either — this is common for internal facing applications. If you don’t fall into one of these two categories, then the question becomes: what browsers are important to you? Microsoft has indicated support for Silverlight in IE through to 2021. None of us will be using Silverlight in 2021 so we’re safe there. Firefox has announced that they are changing the default behavior for how certain plugins are loaded, but appear to be maintaining NPAPI support. Finally, Chrome will continue to support Silverlight through 2014 and have indicated an intention to completely drop NPAPI support, and thus Silverlight, around the end of 2014. Although, in their announcement they mention this is subject to user input and might change.
We’ve delayed blogging on this topic because we were hopeful that Microsoft would provide some insight into if and how they will respond. As it stands, we’re assuming Silverlight will no longer run in Chrome browsers by the end of 2014. It’s possible that Microsoft could rewrite their Silverlight plugin with a more modern approach that Chrome supports, and it’s possible that Google will extend the white-list period, or reverse their decision all together. We’ll have to wait and see what the official word is.