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Adobe updates Flash Player to 10.1 but preserves old reasons to hate Flash

Adobe shipped the semi-awaited 10.1 version of its Flash Player browser plug-in last night, but the results aren't likely to earn the San Jose, Calif., company any more friends.

adobe_flash_logo.jpg

Adobe's blog post and release notes tout Flash 10.1's performance, stability and privacy improvements. But the real reason to install 10.1 is its security fixes, which close a serious vulnerability.

An Adobe advisory issued June 4 warned that this hole could "allow an attacker to take control of the affected system" and was apparently "actively exploited in the wild against both Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe Reader and Acrobat."

(Adobe Reader, unfortunately, won't get patched until June 29. Don't want to wait? Most Mac users can and should dump Reader for OS X's own Preview. Windows users can try such free alternatives as Sumatra PDF or Foxit Reader.)

Given the urgency of Flash 10.1's security fixes, it's odd that Adobe makes it so hard to see what version of Flash you have. Unless you know to right-click on a Flash object on a page and select "About Adobe Flash Player 10..." from that menu, you're left to puzzle through Flash Player pages on Adobe's site--where neither its support, help nor download pages list your plug-in's version. Instead, visit the "about" page that the Flash right-click menu links to.

(Flash can alert users to updates, but it comes set to check for them only every seven days--way too long when an exploit's loose.)

Downloading and installing the new Flash plug-in remains a laughably bad procedure.

On Windows, you must do this twice--once for Internet Explorer, once for such non-IE browsers as Firefox and Chrome. In IE, Adobe asks you to run a "download manager" in the browser (requiring clicks through two security alerts in Windows Vista and 7) and, by default, will add a McAfee Security Scan utility. In Firefox, Adobe requests that you install a different in-browser download manager--which you can't use until you restart Firefox--after which it will again push the McAfee program. To avoid this runaround, download and run the plain installer files: one for IE, the other for non-IE browsers.

On a Mac, there's no download-manager idiocy. But Adobe's installer will require you to type in an administrator password to authorize its actions--and this tool, unlike the one Apple includes in OS X, won't let you check what files it plants on the hard drive. And some promised Mac features, such as better performance when playing H.264 video files, aren't coming until later. Anybody still wonder why Steve Jobs dislikes this program?

Since I refrained from installing beta versions of Flash 10.1, it's too soon to say if it delivers on Adobe's performance and stability promises. Other writers seem impressed, though, and I have seen one notable fix so far: this nifty Space Shuttle launch-sequence video no longer crashes in Safari.

Unfortunately, Flash's settings panel--accessible only by right-clicking on a Flash object or visiting a special Adobe page--remains the same freakshow as ever.

Am I missing finer points in this upgrade? Install Flash 10.1--sorry, you really do need to do that--and let me know what you think in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 11, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  Security , The Web , Video  
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Comments

What's the big deal with Adobe Flash exploits? I have heard having Flash installed could allow someone to control you computer but I have only seen setting that allow Flash to access the webcam. Google Chrome has a Flash player built into their browser so I will probably use that if I want to view a Flash enabled webpage.

Posted by: RONALDM-1 | June 11, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Rob. After getting a major runaround from the various Adobe sites and being unable to download the new Flash, I found your article. I had already uninstalled the old Flash, so all I had to do was click on the two links you provided and then install in IE and FF. Done! With Adobe, it was not just difficult; it was impossible.

Posted by: joegil | June 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Creaza has launched a preview of an online video editor as an open test bench for the new capabilities of the Flash Player 10.1.

You will have the opportunity to evaluate for yourself what can and can't be done using Flash!

Try out the the Creaza online video editor and discover the realities of Flash Player 10.1: http://www.creaza.com/movieeditor

Posted by: bjorn4 | June 11, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

For another good and quicker Adobe Reader alternative, try the free Nuance PDF Reader 6.0, which comes with a built-in free online conversion tool, by which you can upload your pdf file onto a Nuance web site, and within minutes receive back via email the file converted into either Word 2007, Excel, Word2003/RTF, or WordPerfect formats.

Posted by: bloogle | June 11, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to Adobe's previously announced policy of issuing updates for Flash, Shockwave, Acrobat, etc. on the same Black Tuesday date as the Microsoft updates? What, it wasn't ready two days ago?

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | June 11, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

BTW, to get around the IE Download Manager hassle -- which generally doesn't work correctly anyway -- I just download both versions using Firefox in the same session (click on the "different operating system or browser" link), and then install them standalone in the usual manner. This also makes it easier to avoid the toolbar bloatware.

Oddly, the "about" testing page Rob mentions does not list Chrome among the "plugin-based browsers", but still lists the moribund Netscape.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | June 11, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I have not installed Adobe products, other than Air, for years now and do not miss Acrobat at all. I use a Flash blocker on my Macs. If it were not for kneejerk anti-Apple sentiments, more people would admit Flash is a nuisance.

Posted by: query0 | June 11, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I just viewed the space shuttle launch sequence video you link to, as an example of improved Flash, on my iPad. Apparently it plays better now because it's in a different format.

Posted by: bhoye | June 11, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Why do people make such a big deal? Like, the moment someone discovers a possible security weakness 1093 hackers are going to be hanging out of your system. *smirk* Please. Use whatever...it doesn't matter.

The thing I hate most about Flash is the way ad slobs abuse it. Flash as a technology is awesome.

Posted by: zer0lin | June 12, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I have click2flash installed on my Mac and after getting this program, there has been no looking back. No annoying popups, and if I want to see something, I can click it to run. Highly recommended if you must have Flash on your computer. And it is free, too!!

Posted by: ctakim | June 12, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Rob for letting me know where to by inexpensive basketball shoes...

Posted by: ozpunk | June 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Adobe apologizes for 16-month-old Flash bug Crash vulnerability 'slipped through the cracks,' admits company manager http://tinyurl.com/yd3xhw7

Check your CPU usage when browsing a site with the Flash plug-in I've seen Flash plug-in take 50-90% of the CPU.

Steve Jobs likes HTML 5 instead of Flash. With HML5 we (Internet users) won't be dependent on one company (Adobe) and one product (Flash). It will take a few years for HTML5 to become widespread but here is Steve showing HTML 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8HyeKzgCK0

You can block Flash with ClickToFlash on Safari and Flashblock on Firefox.

Posted by: kkrimmer | June 12, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Tech writers always want to appear smarter and cooler than the subjects they are writing about, so this article's tone comes as no surprise.

I installed the updated program for Firefox and Opera without jumping through any hoops. It was a drama-free experience.

Posted by: timflowers | June 12, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Adobe Flash with emphasis on formerly “Macromedia Flash”.
Since, the purchase of this multimedia platform by Adobe several years ago. The company has done nothing, but ignore Internet users complaints for years. Adobe is an arrogant and greedy company.
Any upgrade they advertise should be view very carefully and installation of any upgrades should be viewed with caution and peril to your Internet Browser.
Like Micro$oft and many other greedy US Corporations. This company “only” has Headquarters in the US.
The congressional legal loop holes. Have allow these greedy Corporations to Outsource every aspect of their operations and jobs, such as, Customer Service and Research & Development [R&D] to name a few. They outsource foreign countries with abusive and/or archaic labor laws (Cheap Labor).
It was regrettable that Macromedia sold this platform to Adobe. Since, now it is the worst Internet (Action Script) player currently in broad use by many web sites. This was not always the case. Until the Adobe purchase..!!!
Now greedy web sites such as Hulu, Megavideo and News Web sites want to force Internet users to pay for viewing TV-Series programs, Read News and Watch Movies utilizing this crappy player (CPU-Hog) on their web sites.

Steve Jobs is no genius and is not very truthful. Any Adobe flash (CPU-Hog) content on web pages would render his Maxi-Pad reader useless and or crash it..!!! That is the “only” reason he has opposed it’s use. He knows A CPU hog Adobe Player will not Run effectively on his Over-Priced Maxi-Pad reader… Period…!!!

Adobe flash as been an on going problem for years now with ignored Internet users. Who are force to use this P-O-S-action script player by Greedy Adobe.!!!

BTW;
Anyone who is not very well versed with installation and troubleshooting procedures. Will have difficulties and or damage their web browser’s functions. Best advice is to have a tech do it for you. That way you are assured your profile, bookmarks and other information are not lost or damaged. (Firefox 3.6 =The best)

Do not trust Adobe web site and if you do prepare to be “ignored”…

IF;
Your version of Adobe Player is Functioning then ignore this upgrade… until further Positive Results are confirmed and / or established.

Posted by: BFJustus | June 12, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Adobe's performance is below unsatisfactory. It is pretty much impossible to find information on these issues on their web site. The problem with versions is even worse than Rob's comments indicates. It is not clear where the problem lies. But if the IE 8 addon manager is used to query the Flash version, the wrong answer is given. Even after I have upgraded and even though it identifies the right file for my ungraded flash object, the IE addon manager still says that I am using version 10.0.45.2. Another way to verify the version of flash that is being used is to go to the flash object file, c:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\Flash10.ocx, on my system and read the properties by right clicking on the file. The details tab gives the version 10.1.53.64 .

Posted by: dnjake | June 12, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Few if anyone complained about Flash until Steve Jobs made it fashionable to do so.

When I read writers complain about Flash I know it to be apple kissing.

Posted by: oldgeek143 | June 12, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the author on the difficulty of the installations, and of having to do it twice (one version for Firefox, and another version based on ActiveX for Internet Explorer!)

An easy check to see what version is installed---and to see if other software needs updates---is the Secunia OSI (Online software inspector):

http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/

Secunia is a well known security company.

Posted by: skiffyreader | June 12, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

wow, you sound like you really have a chip on your shoulder regarding Flash.
you didn't particularly convince me that there's reasons to hate flash, you just sort of state if as if it's obvious but it's not obvious to me. it's "hard" to update? uhm, it's easier to update than most apps i have. occasionally security holes are found that are patched? doesn't that statement apply to just about any internet based app --including all browsers you have ever used?
so why dont you tell us why you hate flash? i love the multimedia experiences --ones that combine vector graphics with bitmap graphics with video and audio. things you cannont do on HTML5 as much as people seem to trumpet it as a replacement to flash.

Posted by: metropolitannyc | June 12, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I've never heard anyone make any complaints about Flash until Jobs officially denounced it. This article is obviously very biased and is not objective tech. journalism. Is Apple paying off these so-called journalists.

Posted by: randygrenier | June 12, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

You're really misstating the facts regarding installing the new update on Windows systems, including Windows Vista.

I'm not a big fan of the OS but I have to use it, and when I started my system this morning the Adobe installer did it in about 15 seconds with one click.

It's not always true that it takes as much effort as you say, and I was personally *surprised* and glad that was true.

All I did was turn my machine on and the Flash download manager popped up and told me that the new update was ready to install. I clicked a single link and even before the rest of the desktop appeared it had already downloaded the update and installed it.

Rob it could be that you're reading something that I didn't see, but I'm running it on Vista right now and I was absolutely shocked at how proactive Flash was at installing itself.

I'm not an evangelist for Windows or Adobe. But don't misstate the facts, when you don't know them all.

Posted by: Extempraneous | June 12, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

To randygrenier:

Sadly tis' true that most "journalists" at the WaPo and the NYT are lackeys for Apple, and they have been for a long time now. Pogue could have an iPad catch on fire in his hands and he'd call it a "new way Apple is helping us reconnect with the corporeal even as it revolutionizes our ability to work virtually. That chic waterproof screen still works, and the fire suppression feature saved my kitchen. What can Steve Jobs teach me next?"

Rob Pegoraro is just a paler version.

Posted by: Extempraneous | June 12, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

@randygrenier and @extempraneous
You guys are full of it. Pegoraro has been railing against annoying add-on technologies like Flash and Java for years. Just because you haven't read the articles doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just hasn't been major news until Apple decided to ban it.

I'm constantly amused at how the Apple sycophants and Apple h8rs come out of the woodwork whenever one of his articles just mentions the word Apple.

Posted by: slar | June 12, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Why does Adobe go so far to be non-native to the Mac that they have to write their own installer program instead of use the standard installer? It's lunacy, but it reveals a lot about Adobe.

I stopped used Acrobat Reader about six years ago. It's a bloated piece of crap. Been blocking Flash since well before Jobs started going after Adobe. It's crappy technology, folks.

Posted by: jkh1970 | June 12, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Rob, you want to know my opinion? Here's in hoping that HTML5 becomes the new standard. To blazes with Flash!

Posted by: gman5541 | June 12, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Your post is woefully ignorant of the complete list of updates and all you're doing is pandering to a group of Adobe bashers and fueling the fires of ignorance.

You provide a whole myriad of links in your article but when you call out "it's odd that Adobe makes it so hard to see what version of Flash you have..." You tend to leave out links here. - This is no more difficult than finding out what version of Windows or OSX you have. A simple google or bing search for 'what version of flash do I have' leads to to the answer with the top result being an Adobe page that displays the precise version number and your browsers capabilities with the Flash player.

"A laughably bad procedure..." - I fail to see how this is Adobe's fault. You run 3 browsers, then make sure your own browsers are up to date. Why is it someone else's job to make sure you take are of your own preferences? If Adobe did update all the browsers and you didn't want them to you'd still complain. The update process is simple. It's your own preferences and setup that makes it difficult.

...Adobe's installer will require you to type in an administrator password to authorize...

OSX prompts you to type in a password whenever you install something. So how is this different from anything else? And if OSX requires you to type a password to install something, once again you're placing blame on Adobe where it doesn't belong.

...And some promised Mac features, such as better performance when playing H.264 video files, aren't coming until later...

Here is where your article fails entirely. 10.1 is now a full fledged Cocoa App. Try looking under this post from a Flash Engineer on the Mac Improvements. http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/2010/06/flash_player_101_now_available.html

Your opinions are your own of course but when you provided misleading information that only scratches the surface of an insanely complex piece of software to the non-tech savvy world you're just instigating inane comments and ignorance.

Posted by: _Ian | June 13, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

I installed 10.1 on my MacBook with OS 10.4.11 and now I can't watch two slide shows at washingtonpost.com ... though Flash seems to work at other sites. Coincidence, or Flash related? I'm seeing a big black box in the browser window. One status bar indicates 13,760 items -- and counting -- have loaded. In one attempt I got a warning message about a slow script.

Posted by: Kevin28 | June 13, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What the heck is all the fuss about. Flash is going away. Just ask Jobs. No one programs with flash anymore. Everyone is re-coding thier apps to run on iphone and ipad. Adobe is going down the drain. Just uninstall any and all adobe products on your computer and you will be virus free. Thanks Jobs.

Posted by: tux123 | June 13, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Rob
I appreciated the heads up on the Adobe Flash update. Firefox made the update easy with the "Tools-Add-ons-Find Updates" option. But that only works if you check because a friendly WP writer gives you a heads up. While I was at it Mac Snow Leopard prompted me for an OS update and when I started Word for Mac, Microsoft said time for an update too.

Posted by: AdamsMorganTom | June 15, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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