Coming to a Flash video near you: high definition

Adobe will add support for the video compression standard H.264, which is used for high-definition video.

Adobe Systems intends to add support for a video compression standard that will bring high-definition video to Flash-based streaming content on the Web.

The company on Tuesday announced the release of a beta version of its Flash Player, code-named Moviestar, that adds support for H.264, the video compression portion of the MPEG 4 standard.

The updated Flash Player also will be able to take advantage of hardware acceleration in most PCs' graphics cards and is optimized for dual-core processors, said Mark Randall, chief strategist for dynamic media at Adobe. It will support HE-AAC version 2, a more efficient audio compression standard that is also part of MPEG 4.

The new features will be made available in the fall as part of an update to Flash Player 9.

Support for the H.264 standard will lead to more Web video content being available in high definition, Randall said. He said Adobe chose to support the standard now because it is being adopted more by content producers and media distributors like cable companies. It also used in DVD formats Blu-Ray and Hi-DVD.

Flash is a de facto standard for streaming video used by YouTube and other high-volume Web sites.

But Microsoft is challenging Flash's dominance in Web video with Silverlight. Microsoft has signed on large video publishers to use Silverlight, including

Silverlight supports Windows Media Audio and Video and another video compression standard based on Windows Media called VC-1. Microsoft has not announced plans to support H.264, but a representative said the company could add support based on customer feedback.

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