Flash Player 10.1 release candidate arrives

The first version of Adobe's ubiquitous Flash player with GPU acceleration is getting close to completion. Adobe has now rolled out the first Flash 10.1 release candidate, which could end up being the first complete, official release if no show-stopping issues come to light. Just like the betas, you can grab the Flash 10.1 release candidate right here from the Adobe Labs website.

Looking at the release notes (PDF), we count about 36 new improvements and bug fixes, including big fish like artifacting with ATI graphics processors on Hulu, hardware playback issues on CBS.com, non-loading videos and freezes on ABC.com, and malfunctioning H.264 acceleration on Broadcom Crystal HD decoders. Adobe also talks of "general stability and performance improvements," and it adds, "Many issues involving video playback have been fixed in this release, and users may need to get updated video drivers ATI, NVidia, Broadcom, or Intel."

Handily, the release notes provide links to the AMD (ATI), Nvidia, Broadcom, and Intel driver download pages. Adobe cautions that users already running one of the Flash 10.1 betas should uninstall it before grabbing the release candidate, too. You'll find special uninstallers for Windows and Mac OS X on the same Adobe Labs page as the RC downloads.

Public versions of the Flash 10.1 beta have been available since last November. Adobe followed the initial release with a second beta in December and a third beta a little over a month ago, each time bringing improvements and fixing bugs. The third beta was the first to support Crystal HD chips, which have found their way in a good number of new netbooks.

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