January 14, 2005 5:04 PM PST

Microsoft previews Avalon graphics engine

Microsoft on Friday offered a public preview of Avalon, its all-new graphics and presentation engine for Windows.

Avalon was originally a key pillar of Longhorn--the next version of Windows--but the company decided last year to also make it available as an add-on to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Although Avalon is a key part of Windows' future, it is something the average computer user will never touch directly. Instead, it's an improved method of dealing with graphics, designed to let developers write snazzier-looking applications.

In November, Microsoft released a "community technology preview" version of Avalon to developers; now that same code is being made available to the public.

"It is our pleasure to release the same build to the general public in response to numerous requests," Microsoft said on its Web site.

The preview version works on both Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. However, Microsoft warned developers that the code in the current version is pretty rough. The company recommended that it not be used even on a primary development computer, with bugs likely and a good chance users would eventually have to reinstall their operating system once they were done with the Avalon preview.

Microsoft said in November that a beta version of Avalon would come this summer, with the final version set to ship in 2006. A company representative declined further comment on Friday regarding the timetable.


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Isn't there enough bloat in Windows?
I don't need anymore unwanted services and features to turn off.
Posted by ledzep75 (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you crazy?
You know that MS has never seen bloat that it didn't immediately fall in love with.

Besides, spending time turning off worthless features that took years for them to figure out how to ruin, just for the illusion of making your computer more secure is great fun!
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
Bloat?? What bloat?
My RedHat CD was packed with bloat... multiple applications that accomplish the same task... hundreds of utilities I don't need or don't use. Isn't it amazing how the Linux distros (grocery bags of free software) have grown faster than the bloat in Windows. Heck... XP shipped on a single CD. Can't say that for most Linux distros.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Tired of waiting? Try Mac OS X.
Mac users have been using a 'snazzier-looking' OS for over 3
years now and developers have already tapped it's graphics
strength to deliver thousands of great-looking games and
applications. Presentations, games, video & even
accounting looks great in OS X. Forget waiting for Longhorn or
trying to add a feature like this to XP... escape the constant virus
and security alerts... give Mac a try.
Posted by edgedesign (290 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your ignorance on the subject is quite prevalent. Why dont you spend some time doing something worth while instead of being a typical trolling mac zealot?
Posted by (35 comments )
Link Flag
Pretty? Yes. But...
MacOS still doesn't have anywhere near the software library that Windows has. Take games, for instance. People tout that the Mac has all these great games, but most of them are released months or years after their Windows counterparts. That is, if they're even ported. Granted, a few companies are very Mac-friendly, like Blizzard, but the vast majority of games never see the light of OSX.

Avalon is worthy of discussion because Microsoft (that's probably "M$" to you) has a history of taking the concepts of Apple innovation and improving on them. I still remember the outrage in the Mac community when Microsoft "stole" the idea of the Start menu.

As for security issues, Windows is as secure as you make it. It's a sad truth that most people that run their Windows as a defaulted admin really shouldn't be doing so, but that's the way things go when you've got 95+% of the market. You can't expect everyone to be a computer guru.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
Reply to the first two post.
Windows can never have enough bloat.

I like Mac so don't take this personally, but OS X Agua isn't like Avalon. Avalon is a 3D gui like Sun's Looking Glass. Use your favorite search engine to find out more info on that.

Speaking of Apple though, I will take one of those Mac Mini's.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Matthew - I believe you're wrong....
"but OS X Agua isn't like Avalon. Avalon is a 3D gui like Sun's Looking Glass."

I think you mean OS X Aqua. However it is the Quartz Compositor (Quartz/Quartz Extreme) that is responsible for what you see (GIU) in OS X. And, yes it has been 3D (using OpenGL) since OS X 10.2 released in Summer 2002. So as far a GUI's go, Windows and Avalon is behind OS X, and it is true that Windows users won't experience a OS X like GUI until Avalon ships sometime in 2006?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_Compositor" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_Compositor</a>
Posted by dirk128 (31 comments )
Link Flag
Just one?
Hell, I'll take a dozen. I'm a Windows guy, myself, but I'd love to get my hands on one of those bad boys. It'll make a great internet/email/productivity machine. I already got bit by the iPod bug (because it's practical, though, not because it's trendy), so time will tell.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
As to giving Mac a try, I did....
but than I ran into: try it with WHAT?? There's no games for the Mac, none that's worthwhile anyway. And the PC games adapted to the Mac actually have worst graphics on the Mac. Than I tried the office suites. But the fastest Mac is 1ghz (I know, I know, "supposedly" it's rated a bit faster to 1.5ghz but the apps don't seem to think so). So I wound up playing Texas Holdem on my PDA while waiting for the spreadsheets to run.

All the while, my friend keeps apologizing and keep saying just give Mac a chance.

To do what? Just sit there an look pretty? For the same price, I could have bought a girl. Prettier and more useful.
Posted by (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
#1 Avalon in Longhorn and Aqua/Quartz in OS X have nothing to
do games but rather the "drawing" layer in the OS, ie the part of
the operating system that draws the windows, etc...

#2 PowerPC is way beyond 1GHz... not sure how long ago you
actually used a Mac?
Posted by (6 comments )
Link Flag
Doubtful you've given Mac a try.
It seems unlikely you have spent much time using a Mac. You
don't seem too knowledgeable about the speed or Office
performance. I know several Windows users who have made the
switch to Mac and while the OS does take some getting used to,
they have been extremely pleased overall... Pleased with speed,
reliabilitty and ease of use.

If you have a computer just to play games then stick with the PC.
I bought an Xbox for that, but prefer using OS X over XP for
everything else.
Posted by edgedesign (290 comments )
Link Flag
Whither Longhorn?
It is my belief that Longhorn will become the computer
industries largest piece of vaporware ever promised. I think
Microsoft has locked itself into the current Windows foundation
so deeply that moving to a new and improved platform simply
will not go the way they originally envisioned it ... by 2006, how
many more pieces of Longhorn will be made available for XP? Or
how many other parts of Longhorn will be pushed back a year or
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry. People used to say same about Win95
That MicroShaft has locked themselves in DOS too much. Witness the Windows 3.11 which is DOS based.

Longhorn is coming. It's just that it's going to take a LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time as they finally woke up to the fact that consumers don't like software that's buggy.
Posted by (75 comments )
Link Flag
Likely wrong.
Its good to think. But watch out for those "beliefs." Thinkers can handle being wrong, but believers start holy wars.

I happen to think that Longhorn will be the next most-popular operating system ever released, eventually grabbing over 90% of the desktop market.

So... complete vaporware, or an amazing success... lets go to Vegas and bet.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag

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