Google and Adobe partner Chrome and Flash up

I didn't see this coming, but now that Google has announced that it's working with Adobe to integrate Adobe Flash into its Chrome browser, it makes perfect sense.

To quote Google's Linus Upson, VP of Engineering:

When users download Chrome, they will also receive the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. There will be no need to install Flash Player separately.

Users will automatically receive updates related to Flash Player using Google Chrome's auto-update mechanism. This eliminates the need to manually download separate updates and reduces the security risk of using outdated versions.

• With Adobe's help, we plan to further protect users by extending Chrome's "sandbox" to web pages with Flash content.

I like this plan. I already like Chrome a lot anyway, and I see this as a real win for Chrome users.

Some people are already crying about how could Google possibly support Chrome since HTML5's video tag will free of proprietary video codices, which just shows they haven't been paying attention. HTML5 doesn't magically solve the video question at all. It just puts it back on the Web browser designers.

I'd like to see an open format become the video standard, but I'm not sure there is such a thing. Even Ogg Theora, the darling of open-source developers, has patent issues.

In any case, like it or lump it, Adobe Flash has over 90% of the Web browser video market. Even on sites like YouTube and Vimeo, which also support HTML5's video tag, you'll find many videos won't play even with HTML5-compliant browsers. I know. I've tried.

What's even more important though is that Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) and Flash have recently had one security hole after another pop up. By placing Flash within the Chrome security sandbox, however, even if things continue to go wrong with Flash, the effects will be limited. And, I must add, Chrome was the one browser that the recent Pwn2Own hackers weren't able to touch, and the sandbox was a big part of the reason why they were unable to breach it.

Looking ahead, I can also see Google thinking about the advantage of having Flash built into its forthcoming Chrome operating system. I foresee that, in particular, Google will be very happy to have Flash on future Chrome OS-powered netbooks and tablets. I'm looking at you, Apple, with your iPad, which will not have Flash on it.

For now, Chrome with built-in Flash is for developers only. Programmers and very brave end users can download the Chrome developer channel version with built-in Flash. To enable the built-in version of Flash, you'll need to run Chrome with the --enable-internal-flash command line flag.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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