Adobe releases high-definition Flash Player

Adobe Systems Inc. is today releasing a test version of Flash Player 9, which it says will enable high-definition video on websites such as YouTube and MySpace

Adobe Systems Inc. is looking to bring high-definition video to websites such as YouTube and MySpace by unveiling today an updated version of its ubiquitous media player.

The new Adobe Flash Player 9, code-named "Moviestar," uses the same videostandard — known as H.264 — as HD-DVD and Blu-ray devices, which meansit will be able to stream high-definition-quality video on websites, the company said. Adobe's Flash Player is the most used video player on the web,installed on more than 750 million desktop computers and mobile devices,and is found on many high-volume sites, such as YouTube and MySpace.

The updated Flash Player has been optimized for the dual-core processors found in most new computers and will take advantage of the hardware acceleration found in their graphics cards, the company said. It also compresses video more efficiently, which will ease bandwidth concerns and allow the videos to play more quickly.

Adobe has incorporated the H.264 standard into the Flash Player because it is increasingly being used by content producers and media distributors such as cable companies, said Mark Randall, thecompany's chief strategist for dynamic media. The move will also spur development of high-definition video for the web, he said.

The test version of the player will be available on the Adobe Labs website today, with a full version to be released in the fall.

The company has already announced support for H.264 in its Adobe Media Player, which is software for watching TV shows and movies on a computer. The updated Media Player isscheduled for releasein the first quarter of 2008.

Microsoft Corp. recently launched a rival to Flash Player, called Silverlight. The company has signed on several big-name partners to use its player, including Major League Baseball.