Flash has hit another milestone. After a few public betas, the Flash Player 10.2 plug-in is now out in complete, production-ready form. The headline feature is the new, fully hardware-accelerated video pipeline, as Adobe explains in its brief pitch for the new release:
We’re especially excited that this release introduces Stage Video, a full hardware accelerated video pipeline for best-in-class, beautiful video across platforms and browsers. Additionally, this version of Flash Player offers all the new capabilities previewed in our beta release, like custom native mouse cursors, multiple monitor full-screen support, Internet Explorer 9 hardware accelerated rendering support, and enhanced sub-pixel rendering for superior text readability.
Stage Video, Adobe adds, is "up to 34 times" more efficient than the prior release’s video pipeline, and it purportedly allows 1080p playback with CPU utilization of just 1-15% "on a common Mac or Windows computer." There’s a slight catch, however: sites like YouTube need to update their video players to support the new technology first. Adobe says Vimeo, Brightcove, Epix, and YouTube "have already started work" on implementing Stage Video support; if you’d like to sample the technology in the meantime, Adobe has put up a few examples here.
The Flash Player 10.2 plug-in can be downloaded from this page. For Chrome users, an update to the browser with the new plug-in built in is already available—you can check "About Google Chrome" in the wrench menu to urge the update along.