Apple will stop bundling Adobe's Flash with Mac OS X, the company has confirmed.
The new MacBook Air, which debuted last week, is the first Flash-less system from Apple. Other systems will follow suit as the company clears out inventory of Mac desktops and notebooks that include Flash.
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Mac users will still be able to install Flash themselves, and Apple has done nothing to block Flash from running.
"We're happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac, and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe," Apple spokesman Bill Evans said in reply to questions on Friday.
The move also puts an end to Apple supplying Flash security updates to Mac OS X users as part of the operating system's patch process. Instead, users will have to know about, locate, download and install those fixes themselves.
That's not smart, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security.
"What Apple is doing is separating themselves from the security community," said Storms, who didn't cotton to Apple's decision. "Users, who are likely running an outdated version, typically don't even know when Adobe issues patches."
"I just don't see the upside of this. Apple's not helping out," Storms said.
In the absence of Apple patching Flash, Adobe said Mac users were on their own for now. "Adobe recommends that users download the most up to date version of Adobe Flash Player from Adobe.com," a spokeswoman said.
She urged Mac users to regularly monitor Adobe's security blog, which posts news of impending and available Flash updates, or subscribe to its RSS feed to stay atop fixes.
Adobe plans to produce an auto-update notification feature in a future release of Flash Player for the Mac, but declined to set a release date. The feature would be similar to what's now offered to Windows users.
People running Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome will have an edge during the interim.
Firefox, for example, includes a plug-in checker that detects out-of-date add-ons, including Flash Player, and provides a link to Adobe's download site. Chrome, meanwhile, automatically upgrades Flash Player in the background.
While Evans made no mention of Apple's anti-Flash stance, Storms saw the decision as another example of the rocky relationship between Apple and Adobe over the technology.
"Apple's trying to separate themselves even further from Flash," Storms said. "Microsoft doesn't update Flash either, but they seem more interested in working with vendors than Apple. Adobe is a good example."