Adobe Launches Flash 10.2 Beta

Are you one of those who recently uninstalled Flash from your computer? I did, mainly because I use Chrome -- which comes with its own instance of Flash. If you've really uninstalled Flash though, you might want to take a look at Adobe's latest beta release of the popular plugin.

Version 10.2 beta comes with initial support for Stage Video, a new API Adobe demoed a few weeks ago that is aimed at reducing processor usage by relying on the GPU instead. While hardware acceleration had been deployed in the previous versions of Flash, Stage Video offloads all video tasks to the GPU reducing the CPU load by up to 85%.

Flash 10.2 beta also improves text rendering and support for dual monitors. It's available for download here, press release embedded below. There are a lot of fixes in this new release as well, so make sure to hit the Adobe source link for a full rundown of what's new. [TUAW via Adobe]

Launching Flash Player 10.2 Beta

We're happy to announce a beta release of Flash Player 10.2 for Windows, Mac, and Linux is now available for download on Adobe Labs. Flash Player 10.2 beta introduces a number of enhancements we're excited to share, including Stage Video, a new API that delivers best-in-class, high performance video playback across platforms. The new beta also includes Internet Explorer 9 hardware acceleration support previewed earlier (in Flash Player "Square"), enhanced text rendering, and two popular requests from the community: a native custom mouse cursors API and support for full screen playback with multiple monitors.

A lot of folks want to deliver the best possible video experience to the widest number of people. Stage Video in Flash Player 10.2 beta advances that goal. This new capability will help web sites deliver smooth, beautiful video across devices and browsers by enabling access to hardware acceleration of the entire video pipeline. As we showed in a sneak peak just last month at Adobe MAX, Flash Player 10.2 beta with Stage Video can deliver brilliant HD video with dramatically little processing power. Working together with hardware vendors has helped us take advantage of the GPU to offload not only H.264 hardware decoding (introduced in Flash Player 10.1) but the rest of the video rendering pipeline, including color conversion, scaling, and blitting. How efficient is hardware acceleration in Flash Player 10.2 beta? Using Stage Video, we've seen laptops play smooth 1080p HD video with just over 0% CPU usage.

Quality and performance are important, and so are richness and reach. Accordingly, Stage Video supports fully interactive, rich content combined with video. 1 billion people have Flash Player today. Because Stage Video works across browsers, when the final shipping version of Flash Player 10.2 is released, users will benefit from Stage Video accelerated content with a simple Flash Player update. We're also introducing Stage Video across devices. In fact, today Google TV already takes advantage of Stage Video in Flash Player to deliver gorgeous 1080p HD video playback on TVs.

For content providers, Stage Video will work with all of the existing video viewed in Flash Player once they utilize the new API in their video player SWFs. This means their websites will continue to benefit from Flash Player's advanced streaming for smooth, higher quality playback, DVR-like playback control, content protection, and consistency, with no changes to their encoded videos or infrastructure. Developers can learn more about how to enable their sites to take advantage of Stage Video today, and sites like YouTube have already started adding early support for Stage Video.

In addition to enhanced video playback, Flash Player 10.2 beta includes Internet Explorer 9 GPU support. In some of our tests this has yielded up to 35% improvement in rendering performance with Microsoft's latest browser. Some other features are less about big numbers but little details that make experiences better. Flash Player has long allowed viewers to enjoy true full screen playback with one click. With Flash Player 10.2 beta, users with multiple monitors will be able to watch videos in true full screen on one display while multi-tasking on another (we heard you!). And we're including another popular request from designers and developers: support for native custom mouse cursors. The new API allows developers to create their own cursors, static or animated, and ask the native OS to render them rather than use resources to manually draw custom cursors. This opens up new creative possibilities and can improve responsiveness in games, applications, and other content. Finally, the Flash Player 10.2 beta release also includes new sub-pixel text rendering enhancements that leverage Adobe typography research to further enhance readability of text in Flash Player, especially for complex character-based languages.

We encourage developers to install Flash Player 10.2 beta to check out these upcoming features. Developers with the beta can check out the Stage Video demos on Adobe Labs, including a demonstration of Stage Video from our friends at YouTube. If you're an end-user, you probably don't need to download the beta – you'll benefit from Stage Video with the final release of Flash Player 10.2 next year as websites take advantage of it. We've found the beta to be pretty stable and ready for broad testing, but keep in mind this is a pre-release version of Flash Player, so not everything will be fully baked. If you encounter any issues, please file a bug in our public database so we can investigate. We appreciate your help and feedback.

We're excited about what's coming, and we hope you like it!

Tom Nguyen
Product Manager, Flash Platform Runtimes