For as long as I have been on the Macintosh, Adobe's Flash has annoyed me. It's slow. It consumes vast amounts of CPU, causing my machine to become warm and/or loud due to fan noise. It's proprietary. It is a cause of many browser crashes. I have long had Flash disabled in NetNewsWire (where I do at least 50% of my browsing), and with the advent of ClickToFlash, I have banned Flash from Safari as well.
However, there are times when I actually want to use Flash — mainly when I want to watch Internet video. And while I have high hopes that the HTML5 Video tag will eventually wipe this use of Flash from the Internet, that dream is still a ways off. If I want to watch Hulu today (and as part of my anti-Cable strategy, I do), then I have to deal with Flash.
Unfortunately, when I upgraded my Late 2006 iMac to Snow Leopard, Flash performance took another step backwards. Flash mostly works as well as it ever did when I view the video within my browser. But when I try to watch Flash video full screen, it drops frames like crazy. While some people might not even notice the dropped frames, it drives me up the wall.
So, I've been trying everything that I can think of to fix this. I have tried running Safari in 32-bit mode, alternate browsers (Firefox), Hulu desktop, viewing Flash content in Windows XP running under VMWare Fusion, etc. — all to the same result. Fullscreen Flash is simply slower under Snow Leopard.
So, the other day I did the final thing that I could think of, I installed Windows XP on my iMac, via Bootcamp:
And I am pleased to report, that watching Hulu in fullscreen under Windows rocks - zero dropped frames, it works as it is supposed to. And I was surprised by Bootcamp -- Apple has put a ton of effort into making the whole thing easy to get going. After getting Windows installed, I was bemused by the fact that there were no drivers installed for my hardware, which meant that Windows was running in 640x480 resolution. But once I inserted the Snow Leopard DVD and ran Apple's Bootcamp driver installation utility, all was well, and Windows was running great on my Mac.
So for the time being, my zero-dollar solution involves booting into Windows whenever I want to watch Hulu. While this is certainly annoying, it will tide me over until I decide upon my next computing solution.