Macromedia today announced its future plans for the Flash platform, which includes Flex 2 and Flash Player 8.5. Most noteworthy is no doubt their plans with the Zorn project which will now be named Flex Builder 2 and replace Flex Builder as we know it today. You can apparently use Flex Builder 2 to compile MXML and regular ActionScript to an SWF without the need to deploy it to a Flex server and it will be priced as a tool (< $1000 USD). The Flex server will continue to exist and offer additional features to large enterprises. This is a really great move, decoupling MXML from the server is what many developers including myself were waiting for! Flash Player 8.5 will have a new virtual machine, ActionScript 3.0 with support for runtime error reporting, enhanced debugging, even better performance and further ECMAScript compliance.
Macromedia will be releasing a public alpha version of Flex Builder 2 and Flash Player 8.5 on October 17th in time for the MAX 2005 conference.
[update] almost forgot to mention that Flash Player 8.5 will have support for E4X, Regular Expressions and Binary Sockets