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Gone in a Flash

You've got to love Apple. They're like a strict schoolmarm - they might give you a cool new toy, but they're going to add some irritating restrictions on how you can use it to keep you honest and appreciative.

To whit. This week Apple released the foxy new MacBook Air. But early adopters who raced to the Apple Store to pick one up - and fired up their favourite webpage to find.... uh-oh. A sign saying 'missing plug-in' where their favourite site's videos ought to be.

Such a problem is horribly familiar to users of the iPhone and iPad, neither of which allow the use of Adobe's popular browser plug-in Flash. Flash powers much of the video and snazzy graphical stuff on the modern web. But Steve Jobs doesn't like it, and has controversially kept it off his iOS devices. Seeing this tell-tale 'missing plugin' sign made users think maybe the Mac was going the same way.

Well, not-quite-but-sort-of. In the same way that Apple is bringing the App Store to Macs, but not preventing installations outside the App Store; similarly, they're taking Flash off new Macs - but allowing you to put it back on again. 'We're happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac,' confirmed an Apple spokesman when asked by Engadget. 'The best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe.' In other words, we don't want to provide a version with the Mac only for a user to be confronted as soon as they boot up with a nag screen asking them to update Flash.

We guess this is fair enough... but we also know it's going to baffle most consumers, and they're not going to bother working out how to install Flash themselves. If we were Adobe, we'd be worried - and throw another few darts at that Steve Jobs voodoo doll.

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