Shumway is Mozilla’s attempt at creating a drop-in Flash player replacement for Firefox based on open standards (and not its attempt at creating a furry, cat-eating alien). The project started in 2012 and has long been included in Mozilla’s experimental Nightly builds of Firefox. For the most part, though, even Nightly users would never really encounter it.
Starting today, however, Mozilla has whitelisted Amazon product videos, and they will use the Shumway player by default. But don’t get too excited yet. This only works for product videos. Shumway doesn’t work for Amazon Instant videos, because they use Microsoft’s Silverlight Flash replacement.
This may seem like a small step at first (and it’s sure taking a while for Shumway to take shape), but it’s also the first step in using Shumway to replace all Flash video players on the web.
For now, this only works on Windows (Vista and above) and OS X. Because Shumway relies on H.264 video decoders, it won’t necessarily work on Linux or Windows XP (which you hopefully left behind many years ago anyway) .
With Flash on its way out, there is a risk that Flash will mostly be irrelevant by the time Shumway is compatible with most of the content it’s still being used for today. Mozilla’s program manager for Shumway Chris Peterson partly acknowledges this.
“Shumway is in a race to stay relevant as Flash fades from the web, but there will always be a long-tail of Flash content that would/will be lost when Adobe or browsers stop supporting the Flash plugin,” he writes on Hacker News today.
With Swiffy, Google offers its own tool for turning Flash files into HTML5 content — unlike Mozilla, however, Google isn’t trying to create a drop-in replacement for Flash. Instead, developers can use Swiffy to convert Flash content before it hits the net.