Macromedia buffs up Linux Flash Player

The company releases a version of its Flash Player for the open-source software that supports the Web services protocol SOAP.
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor

update Macromedia has added support for Web services protocol SOAP to its Flash Player for Linux.

The company said the latest Flash Player, released Thursday, offers increased performance and security. Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), a Web services protocol that allows independent applications to exchange messages in real time, helps companies integrate their applications and improve overall efficiency.

Flash Player 7 for Linux is available for download from Macromedia and will be included in Linux distributions from major providers such a Novell, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and Turbolinux.

Other enhancements in version 7 include performance tweaks that allow Flash applications to load significantly faster and support for uniform Web development using cascading style sheets.

Macromedia said its Flash Player is installed on 98 percent of Internet-connected desktops as well as a growing number of handheld devices. Flash provides a graphical user interface that can be embedded within Web sites and used to link with databases. When used properly, it can make online shopping sites quicker and easier to use than sites with plain HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) interfaces.

Linux is thought to be used in about 5 percent of desktop systems, and its popularity is growing quickly. Jeff Whatcott, vice president of product management at Macromedia, said he wants to ensure that Flash can be used by Internet users, regardless of which operating system they use.

"Macromedia wants to make sure Linux users can experience the proven effectiveness of Flash technology on their platform of choice," Whatcott said.

Macromedia developed Flash 7 with the help of engineers from Sun, which has heavily promoted its Java Desktop System as a viable alternative to Microsoft's Windows.

Chris Peterson, a consultant at software developer MediaSuite Communications, said the updated Flash Player's flexibility makes it easier to create applications that help large companies reduce costs when migrating to a new system.

"Our company has built a rich Internet application using Flash Player on Linux that delivers a point-of-sale system for more than 700 sales staff members that retains the look and feel of their previous system, which reduced training costs," Peterson said.

Munir Kotadia of ZDNet UK reported from London. CNET News.com's David Becker contributed to this report.

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