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Macromedia ships Flash 4

Macromedia Inc. has announcedthe worldwide availability of Flash 4. Flash 4 includes support for high-fidelity MP3 streaming audio and commands for creating interactive sites. In addition, Flash 4 streamlines the development process with a revamped authoring environment optimized to help developers create bandwidth-efficient Web sites. MP3 streaming audio support in Flash 4 allows designers to create new Web audio applications, such as long-form animations with voiceovers and background music, while keeping files small enough for low-bandwidth delivery. Sites can now easily gather customer data from within Flash-based Web pages, and then pass that information to a Web server. Flash offers extensive control over how user-entered information is displayed. For example, Actions in Flash 4 enable draggable interface elements, conditional logic, and basic mathematics, simplifying the creation of Web shopping cart applications. Flash 4 is now available for Windows 95/98, Windows NT, and MacOS for an estimated street price of US$299 in North America. Current registered Flash users can upgrade to Flash 4 for US$129.