Adobe on Wednesday announced the release of Flash Player 9 (www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer). It's a free download for Mac OS X and Windows operating systems.

Adobe claims that Flash Player 9 runs up to 10 times faster than before, thanks to ActionScript 3 and a new ActionScript Virtual Machine (AVM) that features a Just In Time (JIT) compiler.

Also new in this release is application runtime support for Flex 2, an Internet application development platform also released Wednesday by Adobe. Flex 2 -- available for non-Mac platforms -- lets developers build Ajax-style applications.

Flash Player 9 is free; it's available in English and localized languages. System requirements call for Mac OS X v10.1 or later, Firefox 1.x, Mozilla 1.x, Netscape 7.x or later, AOL for Mac OS X, Opera 6, Safari 1.x or later.