Flash Player 10.1 for Windows, Mac and Linux is finally available. It’s so packed full of new features and has had such a significant architectural change that’s it’s hard to believe Adobe hasn’t just labelled it Flash Player 11. And with Flash Player 10.1 for Android scheduled for release later this month it really is quite an exciting time for the Flash community.

So what’s new? Well performance and power management are two huge features that have forced the team to re-architect much of the code base. With the intention to create a single runtime that works across both desktop and mobile, much of the engineering focus was on improving execution speed and reducing resource consumption. The player’s garbage collector has also been tuned to run more efficiently.

With Flash video under the spotlight of late, huge investment has also gone into extending video features and improving performance. Flash Player 10.1 introduces hardware-based H.264 video decoding to deliver smooth, high quality video with minimal overhead across supported operating systems (including Mac). Video delivery options have also been expanded with the addition of HTTP Dynamic Streaming for high-quality full adaptive bit-rate streaming, allowing publishers to leverage the standard HTTP networking infrastructure.

Another huge feature is the inclusion of multi-touch. With Flash Player 10.1 coming to touch-screen mobiles and tablet devices, Adobe has provided ActionScript 3 APIs supporting multi-touch and native gesture events.

Although I have mentioned hardware accelerated video playback for Mac and talked about some of the gains coming to Flash Player 10.1 for Mac in a previous post, it is worth mentioning the extra effort that has gone into the Mac player for this release. First and foremost, Flash Player 10.1 is a fully-fledged Cocoa app, with Carbon legacy support being maintained for browsers that require it. Double-buffered OpenGL support was implemented for improved full screen playback along with rendering performance improvements by using Apple’s Core Animation drawing model. Flash Player 10.1 on Mac will be more CPU efficient and will result in greater battery life on laptops.

So what are you waiting for? Install it now. For a full list of new features pop over to Adobe’s site.