Google Chrome Gets Integrated Flash

What if Flash felt less like a browser plugin and more like a browser feature? Google and Adobe intend to try and answer that question. They’ve announced that future versions of the Chrome browser will come with an integrated version of Flash. Download Chrome, and you’ll get a preinstalled, ready-to-go copy of Flash; update Chrome, and you’ll get any available Flash updates.

I know that some folks reading this post will have an instinctive negative reaction to this idea–there are definitely those who dislike Flash enough that they want nothing to do with it. But ardent Flash avoiders are a tiny minority, judging from the fact that the vast majority of the world’s PCs and Macs have Flash installed. (They’ll be able to disable the preinstalled Flash if they want.)

Conceptually, I like the idea–but only if it makes Flash more or less transparent. Over the years, I’ve wasted a fair amount of time reinstalling and updating Flash, dealing with odd errors (like demands for more storage), and recovering from Flash crashes. If the integrated version results in a Flash that’s just there, it’ll be a good thing. And it would help make Flash more palatable in a world in which it’ll compete with open, browser-native HTML5 technologies–which is presumably part of the idea.

In related news, both Adobe and Google are working with Mozilla and other players in the browser community to build a new API for plugins–one which will allow for better integration than existing techniques. Again, good idea if it helps us forget we’re running plugins at all…

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