Adobe has just announced support for H.264 video in the latest version of the Flash player. This is a huge step forward, and as Don MacAskill writes, essentially kills Microsoft’s Silverlight, which was already off to a rocky start.
Tinic Uro, a developer at Adobe, has posted a terrific in-depth writeup of the changes, including a lot of info on the why’s and why-not’s of what they did. It also give some insight as to what’s coming in future versions. Some highlights:
- Flash Player Update 3 Beta 2 now can play back any MP3 sample rate. Previously, Flash could only play files with sample rates of 11.025kHz, 22.05kHz, and 44.1kHz.
- .m4a files, created for iTunes, can now be embedded on any web page using the new player. (Huge.)
- Per Tinic, “H.264 will be supported natively by most new graphics cards. NVidia, ATI and Intel have made a commitments to have full support for it. This means better than HD video on your PC will become possible in the not so distant future.”
- “Digital TV, especially in Europe is quickly adopting H.264. The interoperability with the web will open new doors for a lot of media companies.”
- True streaming (as opposed to download or progressive download via HTTP) sill requires a Flash Media Server ($), but progressive download has become so ubiquitous, I don’t see this as a problem.
I think I speak for many people when I say that I wondered what Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia would mean for the future of the Flash player. This and previous upgrades tells me that Adobe truly gets it and that they’re serious about maintaining the ubiquity of their player and increasing their lead over QuickTime.