Adobe says 64-bit flash is coming

While the rest of the world+dog is slowly moving to 64-bit operating systems, Adobe has withdrawn its only version of Flash which works with it.

Adobe had a version of Flash which ran on 64-bit versions of Linux while Windows users were stuck in 32 bit. This week it seems that rather than releasing a 64-bit version for Windows has, in its wisdom, pulled the Linux version.

Tom Nguyen, Adobe’s Flash Player product manager moved to tell ZDNET  not to worry too much about it.

The Linux version was only experimental and moving the Flash browser plug-in beyond the 32-bit era is a “top priority”.

However he is not saying when a new version will be out and runs the risk of losing all those people who upgraded to 64-bit Windows browsers.

Right now playing such games is pretty dumb. There are lots of people who want Flash’s dominance of the web crushed. Apple’s Steve Jobs is screaming to anyone who will listen that Flash is broken and not moving with the times. Apple moved to a 64-bit Mac OS X with Snow Leopard.

Nguyen claims that 4GB goes a long way, and a 32-bit browser runs fine on a 64-bit operating system. He said that it does not make the Web better or faster than an otherwise identical 32-bit browser.

However it is not really up to Adobe to decide what version of an operating system you should be running. While 64-bit may not make a difference to web browsing it makes a big difference to memory use. The fact that you have to change browsers to see Flash content is simply daft, particularly when a huge chunk of that content is advertising that you do not care about.

Apple claims its Safari browser got a 50 percent performance boost running Web-based JavaScript programs when it made the 64-bit jump with Safari 4 in 2009. OK – it is Apple and it is not exactly unbiased when it comes to Adobe but it might have a point.

When Firefox releases its 64 bit browser later this year and Google puts out its 64-bit Chrome Adobe will need to pull its finger out.

Nguyen says that he is aware of this. “We are actively working on the release of a native 64-bit Flash Player for the desktop, and we will provide native support for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux 64-bit platforms in an upcoming major release of Flash Player.”

However after all these years, why has it taken Adobe so long? Why are we not even at beta stage? Why isn’t Nguyen prepared to commit to a timetable for a 64-bit player?

Nguyen says the problem is with supporting software and things like libraries.

He said that Flash Player relies on many code libraries for functionality like audio and video playback or hardware acceleration. The libraries have to be rewritten to support 64-bit. Still, it will happen.

Nguyen said that he expected 64-bit to be in wide use and Flash Player will take advantage of it.