Flash is evil

As much as I hate to admit it, the late Steve Jobs was right about something: Adobe Flash is evil. OK, so he didn’t say it in those words.


So comes another Saturday and the “opportunity” to maintain the handful of Windows powered machines here at the house.

Right now I’m working on the Windows 7 64-bit Dell Studio laptop (the one that Dell support generously sent us in exchange for a flaky Inspiron).

As on Linux, running 64-bit on Windows can result in all kinds of fun when it comes to most popular software. While the latest Internet Explorer is available in 64-bit, the only way to get 64-bit Firefox is to download the latest nightly build that’s 4 versions ahead of stable. I don’t even want to think about Chrome.

The thing is that, as on Linux, the history of the 64-bit Adobe Flash plugin on Windows does not inspire confidence.

Fortunately, if you’re willing to skip the default download button on the Adobe site, you can download separate installers for IE and non-IE browsers.

Here is the link.

As a result you can download the 64-bit version for IE and the 32-bit version for “all others”, which would include Firefox and Chrome. This is what I recommend.

Just go to the link and select:

Step 1: Windows (64-bit)
Step 2: Flash Player for Internet Explorer (64-bit)

and then

Step 1: Windows 7 (32-bit)/Vista/XP/2008/2003
Step 2: Flash Player for Other Browsers (32-bit)

Note that for some unknown reason Adobe has decided to have their installers delete themselves once launched: so if you decide you might need to call Adobe for support, and want to avoid having to do a repeat install while they wait on the line, be sure to write down the names of the files you downloaded before running!

You can tell the difference by checking the install file names:

install_flashplayer11x64ax_aih.exe
install_flashplayer11x32_mssd_aih.exe

Adobe claims that their 64-bit installers contain both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of the plugin. That may be technically accurate, but my recent experience has been that running the 64-bit installer for “Other Browsers” seems to confuse either 64-bit Windows 7 or 32-bit Firefox (if someone is willing to shell out a few hundred dollars for me to do the bug trace, I’d be up for trying to determine which).

So Adobe Flash remains evil, no matter what platform or browser you run it on. The obvious solution is the one that Apple has already advanced: web developers should stop using Flash and start working in HTML 5. Given all the valuable time I’ve lost dealing with Flash-induced browser crashes my own feeling is that if the web development community doesn’t act soon, I may just abandon Flash anyway and “do without”. If enough users do the same maybe that will convince the development community to change.