UPDATE: Adobe have released the final version of Flash Player 10.2. The software is finally out of the beta stage, so if you want to download it, you can get it from here.

Adobe has announced that a new beta version of their Flash Player is now available for download on Adobe Labs. The 10.2 beta boasts a new Stage Video API that the company claims drastically improves hardware acceleration of video playback. Flash Player already implemented GPU-accelerated h.264 decoding in the previous version (10.1), and the 10.2 beta takes it several steps further by enabling hardware access to nearly the entire video decoding process, hence drastically reducing CPU load. Adobe claims to have experienced smooth 1080p playback at “just over 0%” CPU usage on laptops!

In addition to enhanced video playback, the beta comes with some other new features. For one, 10.2 includes Internet Explorer 9 GPU acceleration support. Which means Microsoft’s latest browser will gain even more speed than before – Adobe have apparently run tests that yielded up to a 35% improvement in rendering performance.

Native custom Mouse Cursors are also in, which means developers can now create and use their own static or animated cursors and leave the processing load up to the users’ Operating System. This could potentially lead to better cursor responsiveness in various applications. Finally, 10.2 also comes with text rendering enhancements that will improve readability.

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