Download links are live for the latest version of Microsoft's softly maligned not-Flash plugin, and they come bearing gifts. Ars breaks the new features down:

• Media: GPU hardware acceleration, new codec support (H.264, AAC, MPEG-4), raw bitstream Audio/Video API, and improved logging for media analytics
• Graphics: GPU Acceleration and hardware compositing, perspective 3D, bitmap and pixel API, pixel shader effects, and Deep Zoom improvements
• Application development: Deep linking, navigation and SEO, improved text quality, multi-touch support, 60+ controls available, and library caching support
• Data: Data-binding improvements, validation error templates, server data push improvements, binary XML networking support, and multi-tier REST data support

That first one is far and away the most important, since high-bitrate HD streaming is well on its way to becoming the de facto standard for online video, and Flash kinda sucks at it. I still notice fairly high CPU utilization running their test video, but the instant skipping feature is definitely impressive. [Ars]