Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’


I recently read about the Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP), which is a software rasterizer that will ship as part of Windows 7. WARP is targeted at:

Casual Games: Games have simple rendering requirements but also want the ability to use impressive visual effects that can be hardware accelerated. The majority of the best selling game titles for Windows are either simulations or casual games, neither of which requires high performance graphics, but both styles of games greatly benefit from modern shader based graphics and the ability to scale on hardware if present.

Existing Non-Gaming Applications: There is a large gamut of graphical applications that want to minimize the number of code paths in their rendering layer. WARP10 enables these applications to implement a single Direct3D 10, 10.1, or 11 code-path that can target a very large number of machine configurations.

Advanced Rendering Games: Game developers that want to isolate graphics card or driver specific rendering errors. We believe that all games, even extremely graphically demanding games would benefit from being able to render their content using WARP to validate that any visual artifacts they might experience are due to rendering errors or problems with hardware or drivers.

Using WARP as a tool for isolating rendering errors is understandable, but as a fallback for DirectX 10 casual games or non-gaming applications attempting to run on a PC w/o a DX10 GPU, a few things pop into my mind.

  • As a fallback mechanism, it goes back too far. We’re talking about going from DX10 -> software rasterization. There’s still lots of graphics hardware out there that targeted previous versions of DirectX, at the very least DX7, DX8, and DX9. Why not allow for seamless fallback to these earlier classes of graphics hardware, instead of a making a gigantic leap backwards to software rasterization? From a developer’s perspective, there would be a real benefit here in writing a DX10 codepath and having it run on older hardware.
  • DX10 adoption is slow to non-existent due to the slow adoption rate of Windows Vista. Unless Microsoft is able to generate massive demand for Windows 7, WARP will have little impact due to the little impact of DX10.
  • A project like WARP seems to be based around the mentality that a GPU is something special for a PC instead of a requirement. Versus software rasterization, GPU rasterization is orders of magnitude faster and the price of a decent card is under $50. Why is setting a GPU requirement such an endeavor, for Microsoft of all companies?!
  • On performance, WARP beats Intel integrated graphics. This really isn’t a surprise or any sort of accomplishment. Intel is really just selling overpriced garbage here.
  • Perhaps Microsoft working on a project like WARP instead of setting stricter graphics hardware requirements for Windows 7 is due to another shady deal with Intel. Remember the one with Vista.

Windows Cloud

A few days ago I came across Microsoft’s announcement (or pre-announcement, as the launch is actually in 4 weeks) of Windows Cloud – an “operating system” for the “cloud.” (Note: there are certain things Ballmer says which seem vague or just don’t seem to make technical sense; I’m not sure what Ballmer means by .NET model or “operating system” in the given context. My overall assumption is that this is software for distributed computing of a web app)

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding cloud technologies in recent months with many looking forward to a future where most, perhaps all, of our data and software services are provided via. web servers. The hype is interesting as cloud computing already exists in many forms (facebook, internet email, Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, etc.) and it’s pretty much inevitable that we will continue to see similar technologies – so predicting we’ll see cloud technologies in the future is like predicting it’ll rain at some point in the future. As for whether this will completely supplant desktop software, I’m doubtful, there are a lot of issues that come with having your data and services on a vendor’s web server, not the least of which is that you don’t have access to them if your internet service goes down. That being said, I’m sure many companies are salivating at the thought of subscription-based SaaS applications and getting customers to pay a continual service fee to use their software. If that happens, we’re in for a pretty bleak future.

What’s interesting about Microsoft in all this is that while MS boasts a new “operating system for the cloud” and launches yet another web technology (they already have like a million “Live” services), it’s latest desktop operating system has encountered a slow and painful adoption due to issues which it seems to be totally ignored. Why is Microsoft ignoring its base and trying to jump on every new technology trend that hits the web? It doesn’t make sense, this does not seem to be how a company in Microsoft’s position should be acting. Microsoft built the bulk of its reputation through its operating system, even through all the growing pains of Windows 95 and Windows ME, why squander that now? Especially after hitting a high-note with Windows XP. With the way things are going Microsoft’s reputation will be one of a impotent juggernaut with a mediocre presence in every segment of the IT market. Microsoft seems to be a company that’s lost focus and direction. Perhaps it’s just gotten too big for its own good.

A great writeup I found after the announcement is here (I think I just stumbled upon this by googling “Windows Cloud”). I particularly like the closing paragraph,

This is not a company that knows what it’s doing. Ballmer and Gates were once masters of their universe. But nothing lasts forever. Ask Lehman Brothers.