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Flash Player 9 Gets H.264 Support 257

Posted by kdawson
from the game-changer dept.
ReadWriteWeb alerts us to the release later today of Flash Player 9 Update 3 Beta 2, codenamed Moviestar, which will support H.264 standard video as well as High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) and other improvements. Adobe engineer Tinic Uro, who works on the Flash Player, has more technical detail on his blog.
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Flash Player 9 Gets H.264 Support

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  • Is this for YouTube? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:56AM (#20303253)
    So is this the corresponding software support behind YouTube's earlier announcement that they'll be serving H.264?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JeremyBanks (1036532)
      I figured that as well, but even if they take advantage of that, they'll need to check what version the user has and serve content accordingly, because obviously this update won't be everywhere at once.
    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      So is this the corresponding software support behind YouTube's earlier announcement that they'll be serving H.264?

      Speaking of YouTube and H.264, I've been trying to get a grasp on this new Flash movie player thing (ala YouTube) vs. using the old 'plug-in' style of WMA or QuickTime. What's the best format to be using for website video these days? I read that it's H.264 because YouTube is doing it, but I cannot seem to find an explanation for different formats and how they're used on the web. What's the o

      • by holysin (549880) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:58AM (#20303905) Homepage
        Really it depends on your goals. h.264 could (in theory at least) produce smaller files for the same quality video, so the server would send less data. Always a plus if you're paying for your pipe. But as other posters have pointed out, how long will it take for most people to upgrade flash versions? My guess, if youtube starts using only the latest version of flash, and "suggests" that the users do so too, well, then the users will do so.

        So, in a nutshell, I'd say use h.264 and ask whatever users you have that aren't youtube addicts to upgrade nicely. You might save some money (and heck, if they have pay for play connections, the users will too ;-) )

        (Note that this advice assumes you're not serving up HD content.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by holysin (549880)
          Erm, also the above advice assumes you aren't going to be posting video until the release comes out. It can be a bit rude to ask your users to use beta software ;-)
          • by PortHaven (242123)
            Isn't the non-beta release already out?
            • by beckerist (985855)
              and considering the effort required to upgrade ANY activex control now literally consists of a click and restart of the browser, I don't see how this couldn't be put into widespread use ASAP.

              I've found H.264 is a tad bit fuzzier on my LCD TV during high-action scenes than Xvid (my reference is with the show Firefly) but given the difference in filesize, I'll never be one to complain!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          And if it's impossible to upgrade? Say, if you're using a device, like the Wii. I don't believe Adobe offers Flash 9 for devices yet.
        • by sremick (91371) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:23AM (#20305101)
          "how long will it take for most people to upgrade flash versions?"

          I'll update Flash once Adobe gives me a version that works. For now, I'm stuck with version 7 for a different OS, thunked in with some hacked-up compatibility layer. Every day, more and more websites are inaccessible to me.

          Flash is bane on the internet, giving a proprietary stranglehold to a single commercial company. It turns Adobe into another Microsoft and Flash becomes its "IE"... the more people they can get to use Flash, the more control they have over the keys to the internet, granting them only to whatever OS and browsers they feel like producing Flash plugins for.

          Little of what Flash is used for even requires Flash and could be done with modern OS-agnostic DHTML. Sadly, too many web designers are sucking Adobe's dipstick.
          • Little of what Flash is used for even requires Flash and could be done with modern OS-agnostic DHTML.

            In which user agents can DHTML play a sound whenever the user does something, such as playing a "rustling leaves" sound when the user moves his character next to a tree and presses the use key?

            In which user agents can DHTML or SMIL synchronize an SVG animation with an audio object?

            • by sremick (91371) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:41AM (#20305419)
              I didn't say DHTML could do everything Flash did. I said "Little of what Flash is used for even requires Flash...". Read my comment again.

              Most sites using Flash are using it for such mundane purposes as doing mouseover/expanding menus and other simple interface mechanics that not only can be done with DHTML, but can be done simpler with broader browser compatibility and faster page-load times (less bytes on the wire). In fact, a site's basic interface and navigation should never require a plugin. Plugins should only offer added content.
              • by Negadecimal (78403) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @12:33PM (#20307261)
                but can be done simpler with broader browser compatibility and faster page-load times (less bytes on the wire)

                I'll agree with you on the first point, but for simple interface stuff, I've actually produced many Flash solutions that required a less bytes than the canned "multibrowserconfigurableexpandingmenus.js" stuff people use.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Yvan256 (722131)

              In which user agents can DHTML play a sound whenever the user does something, such as playing a "rustling leaves" sound when the user moves his character next to a tree and presses the use key?
              Since you asked, here's the list:
              - Safari 9
              - Firefox 10
              - Opera 8
              - Internet Explorer 53

  • Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trip Ericson (864747) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:56AM (#20303255) Homepage
    Now let's just hope it doesn't take an additional 6 months for this to make its way into the Linux version. Flash Player 9 for Linux came out some months after Flash Player 9 for Windows/Mac did.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Beta 1 of this version is already out for linux. Let's hope beta 2 will too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by J0nne (924579)
        Did you notice any stability improvements aswell? Flash still causes Firefox to crash way too much with the latest non-free 'stable' version...
        • So that happens in Linux too? I thought it was just a bug in the Linux compatibility layer in FreeBSD.
          • by Knuckles (8964)
            I haven't seen this in Ubuntu in years, YMMV.
          • by J0nne (924579)
            It happens to me regularely, especially when watching flv video's, especially if you close a tab while the video's still playing. I've installed flashblock which helps a bit as now only video's that I *really want* get loaded.
            • by toad3k (882007)
              I was having this problem too and updated to the latest experimental linux versions. I had thought the problem was persisting but I haven't had a single freezup for weeks, so it must have worked or at least dramatically lowered occurances.
        • by teslatug (543527)
          No kidding, look at all of these reports: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/buglist.cgi?quicksear ch=flash+crash [mozilla.org]
    • Once sites like metacafe and youtube start offering their content via h.264 streams we can ditch flash for video altogether.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        I really don't see why this pure hatred of flash. With sure the official versions are not open source. But all in all it is better then what we had before. If you don't remember back in the days of IE 4 and Netscape 4 Every website that wanted to do something a little more advanced then showing a couple of animated gifs, usually had or made their own plug in that worked only for Windows, or sometimes in a rare occurrence there was a plug in that would work on different OS's. Now with flash this isn't the
        • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Paradox (13555) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:51AM (#20304603) Homepage Journal
          On the subject of Flash Hating, I can tell you the deep fear lurking in every web developer's heart. One day, in a bleak and post-apocalyptic future, Adobe could own the web and web design the way they utterly own print media. They're already on the verge of this, since the vast majority of professionally designed websites use Illustrator and a bit of Photoshop to create their images. Adobe gets to charge $300-$1200 to every graphic designer who expects to be taken seriously.

          Imagine if the web became that way, as well. Dark times.

          But the H.264 issue is different. Basically Adobe has said, "We are adopting a not-awful codec for our video playing, seeing as how flash video is popular but large distributors of video (YouTube) have shown that they will leave the format to hit the mobile and embedded space if need be.

          So now Apple, Adobe, Google, Sony and Toshiba have standardized on QuickTime enclosures (mp4) with H.264 video and AAC audio (when compressed, HD discs can use much less lossy encoding when they want to). How long do WMV and WMF have to live? Now that Flash can play high-quality HD video (and extremely-small-file-size SD video), and preparing with one codec can prepare for everything from phones to HD televisions, what appeal does Microsoft's codecs and containers have? Surely no one can suggest that Windows Media Player has better deployment than Adobe's Flash?
          • by afidel (530433)
            VC1 has significantly lower CPU usage for HD content unless you have a card like the Nvidia 8(5-6)00 series cards with H.264 acceleration.
            • by Paradox (13555)
              Yes, but that's for HD content, which is usually played on a device plugged into a wall socket or with a battery which is itself bigger than most mobile devices.

              Power consumption is only a critical factor on mobile devices. VC1 not only doesn't perform well here, but doesn't have great penetration here either.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by afidel (530433)
                Uh, power consumption is significant for media PC's, more heat means the fans have to spin faster = more noise. Also there are plenty of people who might be potential consumers of HD content that don't want to buy a new PC, as this [theinquirer.net] article points out an Athlon 3000+ can barely handle 480p content, let alone 720p or 1080p using H.264 but has no problem with VC1@1080p.
          • But those prices will prevent that from happening...

            Sites that Use flash now usually are rich enough to use it. Ones that don't go with the more open platforms.... Normal HTML, AJAX. Adobe realizes that such technologies exist and are free for people to use, but Adobe is focused more on the professional market not the hobby market. A lot of people in the professional field will look at the the hobby market to see what they can do for cheaper. I would be more worried if Adobe Gave away Flash for Free as we
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by visualight (468005)
          Speaking not as a developer/producer/streamer but just as someone who sometimes needs to visit a website using Flash:

          I resent the lack of control over how individual objects on the page (or "under" the page for that matter) are rendered or not rendered. I grit my teeth every time I right click on a page and get that utterly useless Flash menu.

          I don't really care about whether I should have the right to alter the way a page is presented or if the producer should have the right preserve his or her intentions
          • by DrSkwid (118965)
            Then get a better web browser, I choose what flash items I want turned on individually.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by apoc.famine (621563)
              That wasn't his point - I too use FlashBlock. The problem is that there is no way to know what's there until you start it. At which point, you often can't easily stop the flash if it turns out to be an ad, or something else you didn't want. There often is no way to pause it to go grab a drink. There often is no way to rewind it and start over.

              It's easy to "choose what flash items you want turned on individually" - it's damn near impossible most of the time to actually have any control over the flash item
          • Yea without Linux Hurd will be the dominate Open Source OS. The thing with technology, The best products rarely make it to #1 the worst products usually die out quickly. Leaving the middle of the road products gaining market share. Once a product gets popular it normally gets dumbed down so the rest of the population can use it. The point of my original post isn't stating that I am a Flash Fan boy. But for some sites it is the best tool for the job.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I really don't see why this pure hatred of flash. With sure the official versions are not open source. But all in all it is better then what we had before.

          [... snip ...]

          Is it just because because it is Not Open Source?
          Is it that you are annoyed because it doesn't work on your obscure OS / hardware, or server hardware which you probably needed to hack just to get a display on it?
          Is it just because your a purist for sake of being a purist not caring about the benefit, only focusing on the flash adds?
          Or are yo

          • by Xtravar (725372)

            Nevermind Linux, either.

            I use Flash just fine in Linux... perhaps your are mistaken.

            Nevermind the flash ads, which make it impossible to surf the web with your speakers/headphones on. I don't think there's any other software technology out there that really makes one wish they could rip the sound card OUT of their computer.

            Yeah, one thing that always bugs me is that you can't right click on a Flash object and adjust/mute the volume. Flash has way too much control over my computer when it runs, and that really bothers me. If they would even just add some enhancements to the Flash player so that it would allow muting/stopping/etc, it would be that much more tolerable. However, they have to make it so uncontrollable because that's what content makers want - to shov

    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      Is there no existing free (modulo patent hassle) program to play H.264 videos?
    • Now let's just hope it doesn't take an additional 6 months for this to make its way into the Linux version. Flash Player 9 for Linux came out some months after Flash Player 9 for Windows/Mac did.

      Or, to say nothing of Flash for Linux/PPC, which still hasn't been released. The open-source version is OK, but quite a few sites have a hard-check for version of Flash before giving you anything, and will balk even if you have something "compatible".

      • by smchris (464899)
        quite a few sites have a hard-check for version of Flash

        I don't know if it's always Adobe's fault. Sister-in-law sent my wife a JibJab link the other day. It only _claims_ that "JibJab requires the latest version of Adobe Flash player". The code actually does a slash-and-burn "if lt IE 7" check.

        It didn't play in IE7 on XP running in qemu either (although we could step through the video). Yes, you can play YouTube videos without stuttering on XP in qemu and kqemu with mediocre equipment -- although I'm g
    • by mzs (595629)
      And never for the Nintendo Wii, which is a drag, it is used almost daily to view youtube at my house.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Not only youtube, but with H.264, it would be possible to create a nice little browser based media server. I currently am using a flash solution, which technically works fine, but the video quality is pretty terrible.
  • Ads (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuantumPion (805098) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:00AM (#20303285)
    Sweet, now we can be annoyed by advertisements in HD, at 100x the bandwidth!
    • Re:Ads (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WPIDalamar (122110) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:01AM (#20303299) Homepage
      People bitching about Flash because of ads is like people bitching about C because of viruses.
      • Thank you! Finally, a succinct reply to those trolls... Well said!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ewl1217 (922107)
        Right... because we have to put up with viruses on every web page we go to...

        If you're going to make an analogy, you should come up with a better one. Sure, viruses may use C, but (if you're smart) you'll never run into one. Annoying Flash ads, on the other hand, are commonplace on many legitimate sites. Now before somebody screams "Adblock!", just remember that ads should be useful and relevant, not resource-intensive and obtrusive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pohl (872) *
        comparing Flash to C is like comparing MSN Messenger Protocol to XMPP.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        People bitching about Flash because of ads is like people bitching about C because of viruses.

        The main uses of Flash thus far have been:

        • Adverts. Almost every site has a flash ad or two
        • Promo sites for movies, games etc.
        • Video players. YouTube etc. A fairly recent phenomena

        It's not hard to see why people hate Flash. Sure it might eventually herald an age of Rich Internet Applications with Flex etc. but it's no exaggeration to say that most user's experiences of it are overwhelmingly negative due to it

      • Defending Flash is like defending annoying advertisements.
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      actually, this would require less bandwidth then before given the higher compression of h.264

      what you can look forward to however, is the same ads in HD consuming your memory and cpu like never before as your pc attempts to cope with a multitude of h.264 video.

  • T minus... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:01AM (#20303293) Homepage Journal
    Linux support coming in 1,000,000... 999,999... 999,998...

    Actually, a million seconds is less than two weeks, that's far too quick!
  • Meanwhile... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phrasebook (740834) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:01AM (#20303295)
    Various choices I've recently made (like using amd64, and dumping Firefox for Konqueror) mean that I've not been using a Flash player at all. So far, I've missed out on things like:

    * The BMW website
    * Countless links to clips on Youtube
    * Advertising banners
    * Homestar runner

    Some of these things might have been mildly useful, but I can't say I really miss any of it. I'm not sure having the Flash player installed is worth the annoyance and distraction it usually ends up driving me to. If I'm honest, Flash player has seen the most use when I've been bored, depressed, procrastinating or similar.

    I'm quite enjoying being Flash-free.
    • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:07AM (#20303349) Journal
      You just need nspluginwrapper.

      It's a 64 bit plugin, that spawns a 32 bit shell running the Flash plugin.

    • But most of the world (and me!) enjoy watching dumb clips [youtube.com] on youtube.

      That's going to mean we stick with 32 bit firefox for the moment :-(
    • by jlarocco (851450)

      Various choices I've recently made (like using amd64, and dumping Firefox for Konqueror) mean that I've not been using a Flash player at all. So far, I've missed out on things like:

      * The BMW website
      * Countless links to clips on Youtube
      * Advertising banners
      * Homestar runner

      I'm running 64-bit Linux, and I have Flash working in Konqueror just fine.

      Install NSPluginWrapper, konqueror-nsplugins, and the Flash plugin, then go into the "Plugins" section of Konqueror's preferences, and click "Scan for new

    • by teg (97890)
      No flash doesn't really work anymore - unfortunately. For most of the purposes people are using it, it's just the wrong thing...

      But fortunately, with FireFox, you can have your cake and eat it too - install the flash plugin and flashblock. Flashblock is an extension that will show an icon for all flash content, but will allow you to click on it to start the flash app if it's something you need. Sites can be whitelisted too, so that e.g. every youtube link will work, but the annoying commercials everywhere a
    • You've had trouble installing Flash huh? Have you tried the instructions in this video?

      http://youtube.com/watch?v=uIfSz_-LDdg
  • I was under the impression that flash 9 was already using h264. If not, then what were they using before ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      On2 VP6 [wikipedia.org] and Sorenson Spark [wikipedia.org] (H.263).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As of flash 8 they were using ON2 VP6, which is pretty good but not an open standard, and also a huge CPU hog. Before that (and it's still supported) they were using Sorenson Squeeze which is a subset of h263.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:19AM (#20303471)
    Due to a design flaw in ActionScript 3 socket handling, compiled Flash movies are able to scan for open TCP ports on any host reachable from the host running the SWF, bypassing the Flash Player Security Sandbox Model and without the need to rebind DNS.

    You can see a proof of concept at the site, and it's quite interesting to watch. This happens inside your firewalled network, just by browsing the internet.

    http://hackersblog.itproportal.com/?p=720 [itproportal.com]
  • by Coppit (2441)
    So maybe finally YouTube won't look like crap. Fullscreen is a joke.
  • Has anyone found the download link?

    The version of Flash from this page: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer9 [adobe.com] seems to be a beta version from June 11.
  • by KlomDark (6370) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:27AM (#20304241) Homepage Journal
    I'm tired of whining about this one, just ready to write off Flash as some kind of archaic technology, but maybe someone from there will ready this.

    WHEN ARE WE GETTING A 64-BIT FLASH PLAYER FOR WINDOWS???? XP x64, or Vista x64. Hell, even a crappy beta would be fine.

    It's been four @#$%ing YEARS since Windows XP x64 came out. It's time to quit making excuses. It's time to shit or get off the pot. Maybe it's time for Silverlight instead?
  • Although the mentioned release is for the PC, I'd say this has a major impact on another realm: mobile devices. I'd even go so far to speculate that this is one of the main reasons for implementing H.264 (the blog just says "our customers want it").

    In most mobile standards (e.g. 3GPP, DVB), and also for IPTV, H.264 is the required video codec. So unless an environment can support it, one way or the other, it is not relevant for implementing services with it. This was a drawback of Flash in the past, I re
  • by tji (74570) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:56AM (#20304711)
    The article claims that that Adobe said it will use hardware acceleration for H.264.. Are there any more details on this?

    Is it Windows-only? Probably.
    Does it use DirectX video acceleration APIs (do they handle H.264) or maybe OpenGL shader (GLSL) offload? If it's the second, it would have a chance for Mac and Linux support too.
    • You're right. Flash under OS X is (presently) absolutely miserable.

      It's not unusual for a single flash applet to suck up 100% CPU on even a recent Mac while sitting idle.
  • I run a moderate sized niche video website that focuses on motorcycle related content - http://www.kapitalmototv.com [kapitalmototv.com]

    Prior to launch we discussed long and hard what video codec and format to go with. In the end we decided on H.264 encoded QuickTime files with AAC audio. Primarily we made this choice so that we were offering higher quality video than was available on the likes of YouTube, while understandably taking a hit on the QuickTime install base when compare to Flash.

    Now, this recent Flash developme

  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:04AM (#20305863)
    H.264 was added at Apple's request. they are currently streaming h264 to iPhone ad Apple TV users, Both of these devices use H264. I don't know the agreement between Apple and utube but I'd bet Apple is helping to pay for the re-encoding of content to h264. Now it looks like they decided to take advantage of the re-encoding of their library and add h264 to Flash. It's good to move to an open standard like H264
  • my 2 cents (Score:3, Informative)

    by Antilles (49894) <jpatterson@realtycenter . c om> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:40AM (#20306427)
    disclaimer: I work on a startup project that is based in flash video

    this is definitely a game changer, although it doesnt seem like it is getting picked up by the major blog/media sites. It simply comes down to how this will affect the economics of producing good web video and monetizing it. in a nutshell, on2 basically gave away the decoder to adobe for the flash player but kept major control over how the encoding tools could be used. They essentially jacked up the fees on encoding to make their money thinking they had a free ride on this one, and with the rise of web video / youtube, their stock price soared in the past 2 years. The big advantage they have over the other guys in flash video, ie, sorenson, was quality --- notice youtube's quality is not that great, even though the file sizes are comparable? It's cause they use ffmpeg on the backend to transcode video to the flv format. The obvious question now, IS --- why doesnt youtube use on2's superior vp6 codec and get the pretty video? Becuase ffmpeg cant legally support it (I dont think, but ive seen hacks) and to license from on2 is just not economically feasible from a business standpoint (disclaimer: I do not know anyone at youtube, but we have ran into similar problems with our product, and I'm extrapolating their situtation with the logical conclusions.).

    I sorta figured someone out there was gonna get ticked that there was a gatekeeper sitting on a major web tech, and I knew something had to give. I think the first clue should have been the fact that youtube was transcoding everything over to h246, but I figured that was initially just for my personal enjoyment on my iphone. <grin/> Apparently they knew a few people over at adobe. The second clue, and you cant keep things like new major codecs in the worlds most dominant web video platform a secret --- was that on2's stock price has dropped from around $3.69 three months ago to $1.48 as of this morning.

    so. where does that leave web video? Well, as soon as I saw the news last night, I began checking the legal issues with transcoding to h264 for our project (does ffmpeg support it, cost, etc) and apparently, its a very accessibly standard. It's going to work with the existing netstream and video objects (whether you like them or not! whats up with the stuttering issues, adobe?) so our video editor should be able to mix sorenson, vp6, and h264 video content all in the same project (in real time, with effects! sorry, quick plug) which makes me very happy.

    As far as the legal constraints or fees, I dont think their are any (please correct me here if im wrong, i do need to know myself). ffmpeg supports it out of the box ( apparently you can make standard h264 video files, or you can make a flv using the h264 codec, although the new file format the adobe guys are workign with seems to be superior.). For raw source code, Video Lan has an encoder: http://www.videolan.org/developers/x264.html

    I guess the big issue now is --- once we all start publishing and remixing HD content, uh, where is the bandwidth gonna come from?

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