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March 30, 2010

Google Chrome to Bundle Plug-ins for Flash and PDF

CNet reports that "Google is planning to bundle its Chrome browser and/or operating system with Adobe Systems' Flash in a deeper partnership" that is expected to be announced today.

The latest updates to Chromium, Google's open-source browser, show that Chrome will use internal plug-ins for Flash and PDF, which are likely to be bundled with the browser. Chrome has implemented some NPAPI extensions for "2D, 3D, and mouse/keyboard events" using Mozilla Pepper, a platform-independent framework for browser plug-ins. There are already switches for enabling the internal PDF and Flash plug-ins, but they don't work yet.

"Over the past few months a number of us have also been discussing some of the issues facing NPAPI as a platform independent browser plugin framework. First, we feel there are some changes needed to NPAPI to keep up with recent developments in browser technology, such as out of process plugin execution. Second, while NPAPI provides an extensive framework for writing plugins, many end up relying on operating system or browser platform specific features. This is especially true of windowed plugins that implement 2D or 3D graphics, where almost the entirety of the plugin may consist of operating system specific graphics or event APIs," explains Mozilla's wiki page.

Chrome OS could take advantage of the new plug-ins because users no longer have to install them and they'll be more stable.

In other news, a recent Chromium build added a new internal page (chrome://plugins) that lets you disable individual plug-ins.

Update: Chromium's blog has more information. Google says it has "begun collaborating with Adobe to improve the Flash Player experience in Google Chrome. Today, we're making available an initial integration of Flash Player with Chrome in the developer channel. When users download Chrome, they will also receive the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. Users will automatically receive updates related to Flash Player using Google Chrome’s auto-update mechanism."

To use the built-in Flash plug-in in the latest dev build, you need to edit Chrome's shortcut and add a flag: --enable-internal-flash to the target value. When you open Google Chrome, you're prompted to accept the license agreement:

Google Chrome includes Adobe Flash, a beta version of a runtime that will work on "a broad range of mobile devices, including smartphones, netbooks, smartbooks and other Internet-connected devices".

If you don't like Flash, there are many ways to disable it in Google Chrome: there's a new option that lets you disable individual plug-ins and you can use extensions like FlashBlock.

Google's goal is to improve the plug-in model and to make it "as fast, stable, and secure as the browser's HTML and JavaScript engines". That's a good news, even if you're not a fan of Flash or the Adobe PDF plug-in.

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