Google Chrome 21 comes with the PPAPI version of Flash by default now. That comes with plenty of advantages, like better security, GPU acceleration and so on. Google has been working on this for a while, but it has been worth it. Chrome is going to be the only browser to offer full Flash support in Windows 8 Metro mode.
But that's not all, the PPAPI Flash will also be able to take advantage of Chrome sandbox on Windows XP, another exclusive feature.
The previous NPAPI version couldn't work with the Chrome sandbox in Windows XP. That's especially bad since Windows XP is already severely lacking in the security department compared to Windows Vista, 7 and so on.
"Windows Flash is now inside a sandbox that’s as strong as Chrome’s native sandbox, and dramatically more robust than anything else available," Google boasted.
"And for the first time ever, Windows XP users have a sandboxed Flash—which is critical given the absence of OS support for security features like ASLR and integrity levels," it said.
Even Adobe's own Flash sandbox, which it unveiled for Firefox a couple of months back, doesn't work on Windows XP. That sandbox is inferior to Chrome's anyway.
So Windows XP and Chrome users have plenty to like about Chrome 21. What's more, those still running Windows XP but not Chrome now have a solid reason to switch.
Having a Flash sandbox for Windows XP is about more than the bragging rights, a huge number of people still use the eleven-year-old operating system. In fact, more than 100 million people are running Chrome on Windows XP. That's a third of Chrome's 310 million or so users in total, a significant number.
That number is bound to drop in the next couple of years, especially as XP nears the long overdue end of support from Microsoft. But in the meantime, those users will be safer running Chrome.