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Mar 30

Google Bundles Flash With Chrome; Steve Jobs Scowls

Posted by meggebrecht in Steve JobsHTMLFlashChromeAppleAdobe


Steve Jobs doesn't like Flash, and his feud with Adobe has made more than a few recent headlines. Given that he's also no fan of Google these days, it's probably fitting that the search giant is integrating the Flash plug-in directly into its Chrome browser.

As Jobs will reportedly tell anyone willing to listen, Flash is a memory hog, it crashes browsers, and it has security issues. Apple's chief is throwing his weight behind HTML 5, and his refusal to support Flash on the iPad may or may not open the door for a tablet competitor like HP's forthcoming Slate, which will run the Adobe software.

By bundling Flash with Chrome, Google is taking, shall we say, a different approach, one that it expects will remove some of the nuisances and dangers Jobs has been complaining about. Chrome users won't have to install the Flash Player, and they'll automatically receive updates. "This eliminates the need to manually download separate updates and reduces the security risk of using outdated versions," said Google VP of engineering Linus Upson on the Chrome blog Tuesday. "With Adobe's help," he added, "we plan to further protect users by extending Chrome's ‘sandbox' to Web pages with Flash content."

Upson said that Google's ultimate aim is to improve the traditional plug-in model, making it "just as fast, stable, and secure as the browser's HTML and JavaScript engines. Over time this will enable HTML, Flash, and other plug-ins to be used together more seamlessly in rendering and scripting." Google, he noted, has been working with Adobe and Mozilla, among others, on building a plug-in API that addresses the problems with the current NPAPI model.

Over on the Flash blog, Paul Betlem, senior director of Flash Player engineering, said that Adobe expects the revamped API will be browser-neutral, offer better plug-in performance, and allow for tighter integration with browsers, and improved security.

"Our hope," said Betlem, "is that the robust integration between Chrome and Flash Player will serve as a showcase for more consistent, seamless, and efficient Web browsing experiences. We feel that this significant effort by both Google and Adobe will directly improve the speed of innovation and move the Web forward."

Some of the commenters on the Chrome blog weren't so sure. "How do I make sure that Flash does not end up on my computer? I assume there will be an option to not install it, much like the option to not install other annoying plugins or toolbars," said one. "The future of the Web should be standards-based: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Not some old clunky proprietary plug-in."

Of course, there were an equal number of supporters: "Google correctly recognizes the Flash plug-in as one of the main engines that drive innovation on the Web," argued one. "So rather than accede to Apple's ridiculous ‘solution' of trying to kill an excellent-but-needs-improvement technology, Google is trying to make it better."
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