Next Flash Player Expected to Support 64-bit Systems

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Adobe took the wraps off of the beta version of Flash Player 11 yesterday, and there's a little bit of good news in there for anyone wondering when and if the player would ever support 64-bit operation. The beta version now comes in a 64-bit version for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, although the content debuggers for the beta only support 32-bit execution.

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In addition to the public beta of Flash Player 11, Adobe announced a private beta of AIR 3, the next generation of its out-of-browser application runtime.Also new in the Flash Player desktop beta are G.711 audio compression, the ability to encode H.264 video on the desktop for chats, conferences and broadcasts, HD surround sound features that deliver 7.1 channel audio to AIR-powered televisions, and the inclusion of Socket Progress Events, which the company claims will allow developers to build advanced file sharing applications that send large amounts of data.

Finally, this release gives both developers and end users access to the Stage 3D ("Molehill") low-level APIs that are claimed to offer an enhanced 3D experience and improved 2D performance across most devices through the use of GPU acceleration.

(I'm not sure how much of a difference the new Flash will make in real terms, but the only way that it could possibly be any less useful to me is if it physically damaged my computer. After all, I find myself killing the Flash process for Safari at least once a day, to keep my favorite MacBook Pro from grinding to a halt.)