Updated: Part 2 is now available.
A little while ago Adobe (nee Macromedia) released the new public version of the Flash Player 9. There's REALLY some nice under the cover improvements there - nothing as visible dramatic as filter effects, the new font engine, bitmap caching and other Flash Player 8 features - but probably stuff that's MORE important to developers.
Two big ones: dramatically improved Flash virtual Machine (JIT even), which I discussed a bit already, as well as some nice language improvements, including E4X support.
Of course, it'll be a short while longer before the tool to go with it is released, and a little while after that before developers can really take advantage of it - check out the penetration curves.
A few years ago, when I was at Viewpoint (yes, yes, toolbars, etc. - read the comments here before you flame me :)), making our multimedia engine "version-less" was one of my prime design goals. A variety of content and distribution deals lead to some not-so-bad penetration, but I remember the well-intentioned folks at Macromedia (at the time) being quite put out by our claims - oddly so.
Witness: Viewpoint Bozos
(Of course, they weren't the only ones: Liar, Liar Pants of Fire )
Now, I actually think the Flash Player is pretty amazingly cool, and that with it, Adobe, has a decent chance to rule the world. But I think there was some confusion about what was (fundamentally) different in our approaches (Viewpoint v. Flash).
I'll explain the deal, and also express some key things I think Adobe is still really, really not getting in part 2 (as always, IMHO :P).