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Adobe updates Flash Player, Flex tool

To encourage creation of more Flash applications, company releases free low-end versions of Flex tool, server.

Adobe Systems on Wednesday plans to release upgrades to its Flash Player software and Flex development tool for building Web applications.

Flash Player 9 for Windows and Macintosh, available as a free download, has been rewritten to improve the performance and "expressiveness," or interactivity, of Flash applications, said Sydney Sloan, group product marketing manager of Adobe's enterprise and developer business.

Sloan said Adobe will release a Linux version of Flash Player 9 but didn't specify a date.

In tandem with the Flash Player 9 release, Adobe is making its Flex 2 product line available, including a free, entry-level Flex 2 Software Development Kit meant to encourage development of more Flash applications.

The company's goal is to expand the audience of Flex developers from a few thousand to 1 million developers in the next three to five years, Sloan said.

Flex Builder 2, a commercial tool based on the Eclipse open-source framework, costs $499 per developer. The new version is designed to speed up development with pre-built components and take advantage of ActionScript 3.0, the latest version of Adobe's scripting language.

Adobe also has changed the licensing for Flex Data Services 2, server software for connecting to back-end applications. Customers can deploy an Express version of the software on single-processor servers for free. The higher-end version, Flex Data Services 2, costs $20,000 per processor.