NPAPI plug-ins in Windows 8 Metro mode

Friday, July 20, 2012

We recently announced initial support for Chrome in Windows 8 Metro mode. One thing that early testers may have noticed is that some existing plug-ins don't work. These plug-ins are built using a technology called NPAPI, which, like ActiveX, is not compatible with Windows 8 Metro mode.

Note that because Adobe Flash Player and Chrome’s PDF viewer have both been bundled as Pepper plug-ins running in a sandboxed environment in Chrome, these two widely-used plug-ins will continue to work in Windows 8 Metro mode on all websites.

We’ve noticed that other than Flash and PDF, usage of plug-ins has been steadily decreasing over the past few years, to the point where a relatively small percentage of our users load any of these plug-ins at all. The following table shows some well-known plug-ins along with the percentage of active Chrome users who instantiated that plug-in during a 28-day window:

Plug-in name Percentage
Flash Player 99.9%
Chrome PDF Viewer 58%
Silverlight 26%
Java 12%
QuickTime 4%
Windows Media Player 2%

This data came from more than 20 million Chrome users who have opted in to share non-identifying usage statistics with Google, which are aggregated to understand how Chrome features are used.

We expect NPAPI plug-in usage to continue declining over time, especially since plug-ins can’t run on most phones and tablets. If the trends continue, we look forward to the day when NPAPI can retire peacefully to the countryside.

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