Adobe's Flash player has a 98% percent install rate, so I guess it's safe to call it an industry standard for video content. They've just released the latest version, Flash Player 10, nicknamed "Astro," as a beta test. It's got some interesting things under the hood that work in the background to make video playback faster. On the visual side, it allows interactive 3D display based on 2D pictures, and for some reason, a "Pixel Bender" that allows you to swirl and distort the image and make yourself seasick if you like.
Adobe has enhanced performance by enlisting the user's graphics card to render Flash graphics as well as by employing dynamic streaming, which means that video quality changes automatically with network performance.
In Flash Player 10, Adobe also completely rewrote the text engine to add new layout support and font manipulation capability. It added a better interface for Flash Player's Drawing API -- no longer will hand coding be needed for complex shapes -- and more low-level access to rendering features to encourage third-party rendering software development for Flash.
The beta version of Flash Player 10 will run on several versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Flash needs to keep pushing speed of download and rich media capability if they want to keep ahead of Microsoft and Sun, who are working on their own players. To date, Flash wins the coveted HotHardware "Smearing The Video Around Until The Viewer Becomes Nauseated" Award. Please contact us to claim your cookie.