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Microsoft: Flash Back in XP

Flash 5 Player becomes standard component in next Windows OS By Dave Nagel
Designers and developers had been alarmed to learn in the last month or so that the Flash plugin was not being included in basic Internet Explorer installations on several Windows platforms and not at all on Windows 2000. All of that will change with the next release of the Windows operating system, Windows XP, according to Microsoft and Macromedia.

Internet Explorer has become the dominant browser for the Web, and Flash, of course, has become an essential tool for professional designers. It's also been the focus of development efforts for most graphics and animation software makers. The recent history of Flash and Internet Explorer has been a fairly complex one. At one point (and for a very short period), the Flash player seemed not to be included at all in the Macintosh download version of IE 5. While Macromedia said they were unaware of this, they did confirm that it was not being distributed with the Windows version of IE. The Flash Player has since returned to the Macintosh download version and seems to be included in many versions of IE 5.x for Windows, although not in the basic installation. With IE 6 for Windows 95, 98 and ME, it's part of both the typical and full installs. With Windows 2000, Flash is not included at all.


According to Microsoft and Macromedia, the Flash 5 Player will be a standard component of the new operating system's installation. Since it is a part of the OS, Internet Explorer will apparently be able to display Flash content without a specific browser plugin.

"With Windows XP, we're committed to delivering the best multimedia experience on the Web through new technologies in digital media and Internet browsing," said Chris Jones, vice president of the Windows Client Group at Microsoft, in a prepared statement. "Distributing Macromedia Flash Player 5 in Windows XP complements the rich media services provided by Microsoft and ensures that Windows XP delivers the great media experiences that our customers expect."

One software developer, Electric Rain, which makes the Swift 3D application (and plugins) for converting 3D files into Flash animations, has been following the situation. "As a third-party software developer of Flash related tools and programs, I'm excited to hear that Microsoft will be including the Flash player within the Windows XP operating system," says Electric Rain's Mike Soucie. "Since Flash is not an official rich media standard for the Web, this announcement signifies that Flash will continue as a long-term, ubiquitous, rich media solution without having to be approved by the W3C as a standard."

Soucie went on to say, "For Electric Rain, this will ensure that our product, Swift 3D, will continue to grow as a 3D vector solution for Flash designers. What is also interesting about this announcement is the fact that the Flash player will be bundled with the operating system, rather than just the Internet Explorer browser. To me, this indicates that Flash may turn out to be an integral part of Microsoft's .NET initiative and could again further our commitment to build tools and programs that support Flash."

Electric Rain will be releasing the second generation of Swift 3D next month. For more information on Electric Rain, visit http://www.erain.com. We'll bring you more on this developmentour editorial page Monday. For more information, visit http://www.microsoft.com or http://www.macromedia.com.

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