back to article Adobe to Jobs: 'What the Flash do you know?'

Adobe has fired back at Steve Jobs after the Apple boss allegedly attacked Adobe Flash for being "buggy" and referred to the Flashmakers as "lazy." "I can tell you that we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs," Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch wrote today in a back-and-forth with commenters on an Adobe corporate blog, "and if there …


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  1. wangi

    "no crash bugs

    Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch might like to try Flash on 64 bit Linux...

    That's assuming crashing down to a white box isn't the intended behaviour.

  2. David Kelly 2

    FLASH not missed

    Two blank FLASH boxes on the previous Register page, and 3 on the page these message is being typed thanks to Click2Flash plug-in. I'm not missing anything but CPU cycle stealing eye candy worthless advertisements. Never mind I'm using a 2.8GHz 4GB quad core Mac Pro with 22" wide LCD.

    Advertisers: if you want more views provide your content in something other than FLASH.

  3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    And Windows x64 Flash?

    Any word of that, yet?


    Paris, word.

  4. James 47
    Thumb Up

    I've heard it before

    I know of a company that works with Abode and by all accounts Flash is quite buggy. It's not very tolerant of things going wrong.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Why Flash Sucks

    One page open in Safari (Adobe's own) and that is it. One page. One instance of Flash. 80-99% of both CPUs in constant use.

  6. asdf Silver badge

    its far worse than this

    Yes the flash is dog but I could live with that if wasn't so poorly coded as to also be one of the biggest security risks on the internet. Adobe makes some of the poorest quality code out there and unlike even M$ has not learned (or doesnt care) the danger it is exposing its customers to.

  7. ThomH Silver badge

    I'm with Jobs on this one

    The Flash plugin is the only thing that crashes on my Mac. As a quick test, when using it to view a particular MP4 video, the Flash player used 120% CPU (ie, all of one core, 20% of another). When I downloaded that video and played it — exactly the same file — using Quicktime, I got 40% CPU usage.

    I appreciate Lynch has to protect the public image for the purposes of shareholders, but is it really wise to say things that end users can immediately tell are false?

  8. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Odd defensive comment

    A bug doesn't have to crash an app to be 'buggy'. Surely a rendering flaw is equally intrusive and let's Adobe down.

    Why don't they release a version that's been QA tested a little bit harder?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Satan must be freezing his butt off...

      But I find myself agreeing with Darth Jobs as well.

      My own company uses that crap for it's tech support GUI now, and I refuse to use it, and so do a *lot* of customers.

      When I hit one of those "click here to skip flash intro" sites, I just plain go elsewhere.

    2. Waffles666


      "two blank FLASH boxes on the previous Register page, and 3 on the page these message is being typed thanks to Click2Flash plug-in. I'm not missing anything but CPU cycle stealing eye candy worthless advertisements. Never mind I'm using a 2.8GHz 4GB quad core Mac Pro with 22" wide LCD"

      Without flash we would not have nearly as many sites using embeded video which i consider to be some of the best part of the web. I have never had any crashes relating to flash in any of the browsers or if there was then i didn't notice. If you are having issues running a little program like flash on your setup then i think its time to switch to windows because that really poor i know support for anything not apple is rubbish but seriously saving cpu cycles by not running flash is laughable. Finaly 22" LCD has nothing to do with the speed of flash on your computer, you weak video card might do though...

    3. mwk

      To be fair

      I don't think they've ever actually called that anything other than an alpha.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jobs, he speaks the truth

        Flash regularly ate up 80%+ of a 2.66 GHz C2D CPU rendering crappy little web games on my 10.6 Mac (assuming it hadn't already crashed the browser).

        This was before I discovered ClickToFlash anyway. I now live in a Flash-free paradise. You should try it. Time for Flash to just go away and be forgotten.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge


        "saving cpu cycles by not running flash is laughable"

        Now *that's* funny. You've never measured it then? You sit there staring at an otherwise static web page with the CPU usage churning at 20% or so. What the fsck do you think it is doing?

        "If you are having issues running a little program like flash on your setup then i think its time to switch to windows "

        So a "little program like flash" is important enough to dictate my choice of OS? Despite the fact that it serves no purpose other than to display annoying ads and burn CPU cycles? Oh, I forgot, you consider flash to be synonymous with embedded video and the latter to be the best of what the web has to offer.

        I pity you.

      3. Adam T

        Alpha? Unsupported?

        So they ARE lazy!

      4. Jesthar

        Re: waffles

        "Without flash we would not have nearly as many sites using embeded video which i consider to be some of the best part of the web. I have never had any crashes relating to flash in any of the browsers or if there was then i didn't notice. If you are having issues running a little program like flash on your setup then i think its time to switch to windows because that really poor i know support for anything not apple is rubbish but seriously saving cpu cycles by not running flash is laughable. Finaly 22" LCD has nothing to do with the speed of flash on your computer, you weak video card might do though..."

        Speaking as someone who has just completed a weeks worth of UAT testing of an very advanced web-based document management system on a low powered mini-desktop running XP and IE7, I can safely say that saving CPU cycles by disabling Flash is NOT laughable. Even in Windows.

        My data and refresh heavy tests were completed without the machine ever breaking into a sweat. Auto refreshing webmail and remote access to my company network were no problem. Browsing of graphic heavy websites and the occasional YouTube video caused only mild CPU fan activity.

        Go to a website with flash adverts, though, and you immediately heard the whine of the fans speeding up to maximum. Minimise that window, and the spin down was equally as quick. Or, if on refesh you got a static advert or one that didn't load for some reason, again the fans spun down.

        Conclusion: badly optimised and/or over fancy Flash eats CPU resources at an alarming rate. True, a graphics card mitigates this loading, but why the heck should you need a beefy graphics card to play something that's supposed to be basic web content? Especially when there are now other options out there...

        1. Waffles666

          Not the point

          >>>"Speaking as someone who has just completed a weeks worth of UAT testing of an very advanced web-based document management system on a low powered mini-desktop running XP and IE7, I can safely say that saving CPU cycles by disabling Flash is NOT laughable. Even in Windows."

          I was replying to another comment about saving CPU cycles on an Intel 2.8GHz quad core with 4GB RAM. In relation to the very underpowered machines you were using that would make more sense.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Not buggy AND

      "After admitting that Mac video performance on one (relatively gutless Mac mini) test system showed it to be over twice as CPU-taxing as on the same system running Windows in Apple' Boot Camp environment"

      Am I missing something here? Any code that uses twice the CPU to do the same thing is buggy as hell. Optimization is NOT that hard.

    5. Mike G
      Jobs Horns

      Freetards will rue the day when ads aren't flash..

      If adverts were animated SVG in canvas they'd likely be even more CPU unfriendly.

      What would free/mactards like yourself have to whine about then when your beloved web standards gets hijacked by ad agencies and are now a lot harder to block because they're a core part of the html and not a plugin?

    6. Mike G

      Ho hum 'a man in a pub told me'

      I work with Flash (not just 'might of heard' or other made up BS). The IDE itself may be unreliable, but in 5 years of using it never had any -player- bug that was a showstopper, or ever caused a full browser crash that was a real, repeatable situation. There's a lot of badly written actionscript out there however, as anybody with the debug player installed can see (it shows runtime code errors)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It is an unsupported alpha version...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Huh

        Maybe that's where he gets his 98% figure from. Anything that doesn't support flash just isn't a PC.

        Given that Windows doesn't ship with flash pre-installed, and doesn't tick the "automatically download and install any old shit" box in the default settings, the figure of 98% is surely an exaggeration. It requires a conscious decision by an administrator to get flash on a PC and there must be plenty of corporate systems where the administrator just doesn't see GooTube as an essential app. Maybe anyone who chooses not to run flash isn't a proper PC user. Yeah, that must be it.

        That would leave 2% of proper users with proper PCs, who presumably just can't get the Adobe updater to work through their NAT. That sounds about right.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Silverlight is 32-bit only

      That's not to excuse Adobe, but it's interesting that Microsoft made the same decision.

    9. Al Jones

      Most of Adobe's users aren't "customers"

      The 98% of desktops that he referred to belong to people who have never paid Adobe a cent, and Adobe apparently doesn't care about them. Unless Adobe's actual customers stop creating Flash content, Adobe doesn't have much incentive to spend money to fix the problem, unfortunately.

  9. Hugh McIntyre

    Child processes

    Leaving aside the bugs, CPU load, and memory leakage bugs in the past (eventually leading to a crash when the browser gets to 2GB-4GB), and which have certainly existed on Unix and MacOS at least, what would be useful is the browser vendors to put flash in a captive child process so that if the Flash process dies, it only kills Flash (with a possible "Would you like to restart" option) rather than killing the whole browser.

    It's possible that some users might kill the flash process themselves some of the time ...

    Meanwhile, part of the problem here is that IIRC, Flash is at least as much a programming language as a pure Video format, and therefore if random web developers write bad Flash programs that loop like crazy, your CPU will be pegged just as much as if they did so in Java, JavaScript, etc. Some of the actually useful Flash applications (e.g. are based on this, which makes it non-obvious that a pure video format is a replacement.

    The other thing the browser people could do to help would be to stop the Flash animations in minimized windows and tabs so there is less CPU load.

    Meanwhile, there's FlashBlock :)

    1. David Webb
      Jobs Horns


      If Flash crashes on Chrome, Chrome kills the plugin with a message saying "this plugin crashed, whoops!", although if Flash did take down Chrome it would only kill the one tab rather than the entire browser.

      Anyhow, is Jobsworth right to bar flash from the iPad? Up to him, but he should realise that he will not be able to advertise it in the UK as a "full" internet device without it, the iPhone already got slapped down by the ASA because it doesn't play Flash and if he is trying to market it as a device for viewing the internet, he really should allow it to, you know, play the majority of the internet.

      It's all bull though, Jobsworth wants HTML5 and he wants the HTML5 with his own codecs, not ogg or whatever, but that other one I can't think of right now. By only allowing the iPad to use HTML5 (and it'll obviously only support Jobsworth's preferred codecs) he throws a spanner in the works. What'll be so nice now is if Microsoft and Mozilla team up and say "ok, IE8 and Firefox will only use OGG in HTML5, we will not support any other standard", that'll piss off Jobsworth!

    2. YARR

      Throttle 'em

      Yes bad flash coders can easily max out your CPU, but there's no reason why the interpreter can't monitor this and throttle back the interpreting speed when this occurs.

      It's poor flash ads that drove me to install flashblock, so Adobe ought to realise they are losing market share because of this.

    3. Mikey 1

      Child processes

      I've seen Safari play nicely like that on occaision - a nice blank space on the page and a wee message along the lines of "Flash was hurting me, so I kicked him out." - just in the latest or so version I think.

      I've also seen it crash Safari so there you go.

      As it is, in SnowLeopard, Flash runs as a seperate 32bit process alongside the 64bit Safari, because as with Windows 64bit - it's all a bit much for Adobe.

      Meanwhile, there's ClickToFlash. :-)

      1. Kristian B

        @David Webb

        @David Webb

        What are you talking about "full internet device", "device for viewing the internet", and "play the majority of the internet" ?!?

        The Internet is an infrastructure of interconnected networks. I think you mean the Web (World Wide Web), which is just one network service.. not the "full internet".

        People will disregard your comment as someone who doesn't know the difference between the internet and the web is obviously clueless.

        1. GZA a.k.a. The Genius

          @Kristian B

          You know what @David Webb meant! People will disregard your comment as someone who is a nob.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          Jobs Horns

          Yes, but.

          Apple's ads for the iPhone do (or rather did) state "the internet", "the full internet", "not just the mobile internet", etc and made no reference to the WWW. Those claims are what the ASA nailed them to the cross for.

          Clueless yes. But it's the Lord High Cultist and his ignorant sheep you should be dissing not Mr Webb, he's just accurately relaying the iCobblers....

      2. Player_16

        @David Webb

        I'll try to clue you in. HTML5 is an open standard so it runs in QuickTime. H.264 also runs in QT and the iPhone. If you want to see video on the iPhone: H.264. Flash is standard based on a proprietary technology: it's old; like 1999 old; like 32-bit binary old. The web has moved on. So, in Windows, Flash makes use of hardware decoding for H.264, OS X does not. Linux has problems with it too. And to quote from Firefox for Maemo RC3 site:

        "We’ve decided to disable plugin (not to be confused with add-ons, which are supported) support for this release. The Adobe Flash plugin used on many sites degraded the performance of the browser to the point where it didn’t meet our standards."

        So Adobe needs access to Apple's hardware to make Flash run better...

        That ain't gonna happen. So you just go on hatin' and dissin' Apple and continue living in the past.

  10. Lawrence 7

    Massive Pressure

    My Macbook cooks faster than I do whilst watching porn, err I mean flash video, yet I can watch full on Movies in many other formats with the fan gently tickling my processors neck.

    This is my main problem with flash: as the Youtube video abive points out nicely.

    I dont have a massive hatred for it: Flash has done wonderful things for the richness of the net, but the seriously need to sort out how much it batters my processor.

    so yea, its annoying, but Im all for it not being on my phone if it means my battery lasts longer.

  11. R Cox

    Put in an off switch.

    Flash is only "achieved its wide use today' because it does not have an off button, combined with the system of secretive cookies. In essence Flash provides the lack of transparency that so many third parties crave in a way that HTML does not. If Safari had a Flash Blocker installed by default, then I would absolutely love to have Flash on the iPhone. My preferred browser, Camino, has such functionality. I don't see why every browser should not. Installing such basic functions after market is as silly as having to install a plugin to stop animated gifs.

    And to echo what others are saying, yes, when my browser crashes or gets into a place where I have to force a quit, Flash is pretty much always to blame.

  12. Bear Features
    Jobs Horns


    Naturally, if Apple doesn't use it, there must be something wrong with it. :o) Then the moment they ship it, "iWOW... " it's like the first time they've seen it.

    Bluray.... HDMI et al.

  13. Cliff

    Drunk at the bar

    Jobs sounds more unhinged as time passes - these very public jibes at competitors are not very gentlemanly, and leave him looking like the bitter old drunk at the bar whining about the world.

    Now my love for Google and Adobe is certainly limited, but this very public fight-picking does seem somewhat loopy, and who wants to buy stuff off the nutty old drunk in the corner? It's very unattractive.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Lazy is right

    As Alan W. Rateliff, II pointed out, where is 64 bit Flash on Windows ? Hence I'm running a 32 bit browser on Vista 64 bit. They've only had 2 years...

    ALSO - Adobe Premier Elements and Adobe Photoshop Elements are not supported on 64 bit Windows. Dreamweaver 8 (as supplied free from 1&1) is not supported on Windows 64 bit.

    Adobe are LAZY and SLOW (or, they could be thick). I hope HTML5 kills off Flash - good riddance to Adobe.

    Having said all that, Apple were lazy (or too fast to market with the product) with the original iPhone - claiming things like 3G was not viable (due to battery life) and MMS was not required (not that I've used it).

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  16. Adrian Esdaile

    It's the UNKNOWN bugs we ship....

    "I can tell you that we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs,"

    Well, der.

    It's the bugs you don't know about that cause all the problems then, isn't it?

  17. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Hanging is OK

    Flash Player 10 release notes:

    "Receiving live streaming audio for over an hour may result in loss of audio and a non-responsive Flash Player. (237333)"

    1. Goat Jam
      Thumb Up

      Awesome rant!

      That is all

    2. Anonymous Coward


      You missed the bigger issue with that statement. It's also an implicit admission that they ship Flash with known security issues, known rendering issues, known performance issues and various other known issues. They just make sure to get the crash bugs out before they ship. Adobe needs to realize that crashing is only one small reason why people hate Flash and fix the others.

      Note: performance issues can easily become crashing issues to the end user who has to kill their browser/tab to remove the offending Flash graphic.

      And no, I don't miss seeing Flash in my 64-bit browser at all.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Was that just a stream of consciousness? It was mainly just bollocks! Splendid rant though...

      "Apple are fucking shit! as are the rest.. start taking a closer look at all these large companies and what their motives are! don't be a noob!" I suppose we all ought to stop shaving and washing and live in Emacs like you l33ts then, eh?

      1. Baudwalk


        OY! Nowt wrong with Emacs!!! (Except it missing Vim's virtualedit option.)

        Best damn OS there ever was. Where else could you configure RSI-inducing key combinations like Ctrl+Alt+Meta+Shift+Hyper+Super+F7?

        Mind you. 10-15 years ago, Emacs' heavy use of ressources (by the standards of the day) kinda gave it something in common with Flash of today.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    sure flash is buggy

    I am currently grappling with one of Flash's worst defects- it's inability to deal with bitmaps over's the type of nightmare issue that makes it impossible for a Flash developer to avoid. It's undocumented and flash throws an unhandled error.

    - but despite it's foibles Flash is a must have for me. There is so much great flash content out there - that the web simply isn't the same without it - sure there are loads of pointless flash animations, intro screens etc. But there are also some amazing applications out there created with Flash/Actionscript . I use the Flex Eclipse based IDE for my actionscript development and absolutely love it. I've been programming .NET since the 1.0 Betas and Java, VB and VC++ for years before that and I love programming in Flex as much as anything else I've worked with. The ability to point Flex at your web services and have it create you an actionscript class library is a pure time saver, and when you start to interact with client side Javascript you realise that Flex is a very powerful tool indeed which lets you use an underlying transport mechanism that is way better than your average bug ridden AJAX / HTML 4 based site. Sure Flash can be a challenge - and it in it's Flash CS4 encarnation it is a complex environment to understand well enough to create solid applications - but it can be done so long as a structured approach to the project is used and that approach is based on a correct understanding of Flash's object and event model and asyncronous programming. Flash's worst trait is it's acceptance of sloppy 'hippy' code of the type you'd find at your local Perl convention - you can get away with murder - Actionscript 3.0 is a step forwards - but you can't admire Actionscript script in the same way as you can in say Java. Java really brings out the best in a programmer - but Flash brings out the very worst. In almost all programmers of curly bracket languages, when they encounter actionscript it has them doning their stetson and joining the ranks of the cowboy builder and they don't even know it. That is because Actionscript really does need a knowledge of Flash to really appreciate it, and that knowledge can only really be achieved by playing with the visual stuff first hand. That is why good actionscript programmers are few and far between compared to say C# programmers or PHP programmers - both of which are far more common. If only Microsoft woulf just license Flash and work with Adobe to integrate it into .NET - they would rule the world if they did that and bring to different development worlds, which if brought together would make the world a better place.

    Respect to Steve Jobs on many counts- but he's totally barking up the wrong tree on this one, HTML 5 is a further step backwards in computing and Adobe and Microsoft are right on the money with the Flash and Silverlight as the visual end of a proper web development environment. And you haven't even got me started in the media server arena - Adobe you rock although your media server is over priced and Flash CS4 is buggy as hell. But you make the web rock (or at least those of you who used to work for Macromedia). You created postscript. That's an invention better than anything Steve has created - he's just a business shark. In tech terms he's a phony. Woz was the man - but postscript is a historic invention - but Steve is talking and manipulating a generation too young to remember the impact of Postscript. Whereas I was there in '87 with my Mac SE when Adobe released Illustrator 1.0 - we saved files in ps format, transferred them to the PC with an external 5 1/4 in drive the site of a breeze block and then incorporated those files as the graphic elements of our printer output from our DOS based, Turbo C based applications. at the time it was a kind of magic - those laser printed curves looked unreal compared to the output you'd get from most DOS based programs. Respect to Adobe for that- you are one of the true catalysts of the information age. Apple - the fact you nicked the mouse driven GUI For the Apple LISA from Xerox and you can still to this day trace your gui directly to that GUI means that in the over kudos of things technological Adobe out trumps you and always will. The sad thing is the organizations such as the BBC make so much of the populist iPhone because all it's staff are addicted to iPhones and Twitter - that at least for the population of this country, the general public will probably never know how Adobe help shaped the world they live in - they will just listen to Steve and spend 500 pounds on a machine that allow them to do less than any other computer they have ever owned.

    We want HTML 5.0 - but we want that for richer interlinked documents than we have at present. But we want Flash and Silverlight to perfect the art of streaming audio and video with the embelishment of animations. A few versions of Flash + Papervision 3D + processing power and the web will be come the 3D virtual paradise that we read about in the days of Mosaic....

    1. Mike G

      mmm large bitmaps in swf not a good idea

      You realise to handle 2880x2880 image takes over 32mb memory, and manipulating it a lot of cpu? You realise that FP9 has a built in limit of 2880x2880 to protect against people overusing resources?

      Hey Mac users, here's the man that's been crashing your safari !

    2. Adam T

      2880x2880 WTF

      And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I absolutely fucking hate Flash.

      As an authoring platform, it's done wonders to add diversity to the web.

      As an authoring paltform, it's done wonders to put dangerous tools in the hands of idiots.

      Little wonder Flash crashes if it's allowed to suck the life out of your system's resources. People who use Flash, but don't know shit about what they're doing should be banned from using it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @kneejerkers above

      It's quite possible in Flash to store a large bitmap in a compressed format (eg png). You can then create useful/viewport-sized bitmap data chunks from it at runtime and render just that part out. So as long as the programmer makes sure that each chunk of bitmap data is properly garbage-collected the whole "takes 32mb of memory" argument is false.

      In fact some of you sound just like the people referred to in the original post, bringing your expert knowledge of computers to Flash without bothering to find out if that knowledge actually applies in context.

      Agreed with AC above, a well-structured Flash application can be very stable, but Flash is too forgiving in letting people use it without understanding it properly.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe the world has changed?

    Where once mains powered PCs ruled the roost with CPU, energy and video card there to help that world is passing with replacement in the form of low energy units with limited resources and often limits upon multitasking?

    If so maybe Flash has to catch up.

  20. KenBW2

    Adobe, Apple

    I can't bring myself to agree with either of those :(

  21. BobaFett

    Mac Performance

    Ars Technica examined Flash 9 and 10 performance back in October 2008 and whilst Flash 10 is noticeably better than Flash 9, it's still 6 to 10 times more CPU efficient on Vista than OS X.

    Flash 10.1 appears to have improved Hulu performance on OS X by around 230% without any GPU acceleration, which would make it only about 3.3 times worse than on Windows now instead of 8 times. Unfortunately 10.1 isn't available yet.

    Evidently Adobe have been making efforts to improve Mac performance and have a number of technical excuses for why performance isn't the same as on Windows. Whether there's any merit to these is hard to say. Ultimately though, Adobe, for whatever reasons, have neglected Flash on Mac OS X for too long and while 10.0 is the current version, Mac users are well advised to install a Flash blocker like Click2Flash.


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