Last week, we reported that Apple’s new MacBook Airs were shipping without Adobe Flash preinstalled… a radical departure from the norm for Apple, which has been bundling Flash with OS X (and OS 9 before it) as the default for seemingly ages. Was it a fluke, or is this Apple’s new policy?
Nope, not a fluke, according to Apple, who say that Adobe Flash will not come preinstalled on any of their machines in the future.
Apple’s reasoning, though, doesn’t on the surface of things have a lot to do with their ongoing feud with Adobe. Rather, by preinstalling Flash, Apple was risking accidentally distributing out-of-date versions of Flash with their machines. This recently bit Apple on the butt when they shipped OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard with an obsolete version of Flash with several known security vulnerabilities.
By making users download Flash themselves, Apple is disavowing the responsibility of keeping OS X’s most infamously buggy and resource heavy third-party plugin up to date on users’ machines. This is the same train of thought that also lead Apple to recently deprecate their home-baked Java builds: by stepping back, Apple is guaranteeing that users who choose to download Java or Flash will have the most up-to-date and secure versions of the software on the machines.
Sounds like a good decision to me.