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Article: Introducing DirectX 10 (Windows Graphics Foundation 2.0)
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 5/20/2005 08:46:00 AM.

Longhorn uses the Windows Graphics Foundation, or WGF. WGF 1.0 will use DirectX 9.0c as it's primary interface, but Longhorn will also have the Next-Gen 3D API build in. You can see it as DirectX 10, but it's called WFG 2.0.

One of the important features of WGF is the Longhorn Display Driver Model (LDDM). It is possible with LDDM to install a new graphics driver without even rebooting your system. LDDM will ship in two stages. The first, called basic, supports current generation graphics hardware: shader model 2.0 and 3.0 capable hardware. The second stage of LDDM, "advanced," will support hardware features that ship ar the same time or after Longhorn is released, but will work with the new features in WGF 2.0. Because of the competitive way of graphics hardware development, we'll probably see advanced LDDM capable hardware before Longhorn is released. The current Windows XP driver model is still supported, but will be frozen going forward.

Advantages of Longhorn above XP:
- run more than 15 graphical applications at the same time instead of 2
- complete control manager to optimize system resources
- every window in Longhorn will be a 3D surface (when opening My Computer you're actually watching an interactive 3D texture)
- applications can be bigger than graphic card memory currently allows
- split your monitor into four pieces and play games at the same time while listening to music with Winamp, watching a movie with Media Player.
- Longhorn uses DirectX to show the Windows Desktop
- you are able to rotate your windows in a 3D way, so you can push it to the background, put it upside down or squeeze it in a corner
- Longhorn supports up to 160 windows open at the same time
- four different graphic modes for Longhorn (2GB/256MB/128MB/64MB textures)
- new motherboard BIOS'es will be integrated into Longhorn itself
- some of the BIOS settings can be changed within Windows and you won't even have to reboot to apply the new settings
- with XP, users got a lot of freedom to configure and tweak their system but Microsoft says that with Longhorn the 'more advanced' users will get the freedom to customize and tweak even more features of Windows that wasn't possible in XP

Now some very important info about gaming on Longhorn:

- there will be NO graphical difference between an ATI or nVidia card anymore, the only difference will be speed
- WGF 2.0 allows GPU processing without CPU intervention
- The Xbox 360 uses some of the technology Longhorn will use to handle games on the PC

If you want to play a game Longhorn will disable every component of your computer that isn't needed by the graphical interface and unloads the Windows Desktop (it's like running a game in MSDOS).

While it's true that the graphics technology for Longhorn is very advanced, it's also true that Microsoft is trying to have a wide array of hardware specifications. By the time Longhorn actually ships, almost every new PC should be able to support the user interface and Windows Graphics Foundation.

That doesn't mean users will need GeForce 6800 Ultras or comparable cards. As we've seen, the user interface will support four qualities, the most basic should even run on most of today's hardware. If you want the full Longhorn experience, you'll want a heavy system and graphics hardware, and lots of memory.

Windows Longhorn will probably be released in the second half of 2006.


- Don't think of buying a computer today and use it to run Longhorn next year
- Memory is the most important component for future computing (graphics and system memory)

Extreme minimum requirements:
1.6 GHz processor
512 MB memory
64 MB videocard
7200 RPM HD 16 MB cache

For the full experience:
4 GHz processor
3 GB memory
1 GB videocard with WFG 2.0 support
15000 RPM HD 1 GB flash memory

Dean Lester, the General Manager of Windows Graphics and Gaming says Microsoft is making the gaming-functionality of Windows Longhorn the same as a modern game-console, but wants to keep the advantages of PC gaming like high-end graphics and sound hardware, online communities, community support and downloadable content.

Microsoft is working together with nVidia, ATI, AMD and Intel to develop pre-configured computers with different levels, low, mid and high range hardware-configurations for different sales prices. PC's with a certain configuration of CPU, videocard and memory will be split in different levels. Because of this, choosing a PC for gaming gets a lot easier, because fast computers will get a higher level. The system requirements on game-packages will have a level requirement, so you can see if the level of your computer is high enough to handle a game.

Update 3: EASY TO USE
With Longhorn Microsoft wants to eliminate the long installation procedures that PC games have. Installing and playing a game should be as easy as with a console. They too are developing a special driver manager, so you won't have any problems with different drivers. This means no problems with flickering textures, stuttering and crashing anymore, because the drivers will be fully controled by the graphics interface and because of this system nVidia and ATI can develop and test their drivers for problems within a few seconds. Updating drivers and BIOS'es will get a lot easier because Windows Update will get a special feature that automatically checks if your hardware is up to date and automatically updates your drivers, BIOS'es, the Longhorn graphics interface and even updates for the most important feature of Longhorn, WFG 2.0.

Microsoft is going to implement Pixel and Vertex Shader 4.0 support into the new graphics interface, so in the near future after Longhorn is released there doesn't have to be another newer version of WFG to be released. Epic has announced that their Unreal 3 Engine will support future pixel and vertex shader versions that are going to be implemented when the Unreal 3 Engine is near completion.

Longhorn uses a lot of memory, but it uses it for a very good reason. Longhorn actually doesn't even have loading times when you're using Explorer, Internet Explorer or any other Windows component. The big amount of memory thats being used isn't just for the textures but it contains every important file thats needed by Windows when running an application. When you start a game, the Longhorn graphics interface immediately unloads everything out of the memory that isn't needed by your 'game hardware' (video and sound card) such as the 3D Windows Desktop. Users are able to change the way Longhorn reacts when you boot up a game or 3D application. WFG is fully customizable to your own needs. For example, you can keep the Windows Desktop loaded and play a game at the same time, or if you have a fast system run both in split screen. To do all this fast loading and unloading you need to have fast memory and ofcourse a fast harddisk. But here's the problem. The harddisks we use today are far too slow (12000 RPM is still too slow) and will be a huge bottleneck when loading huge amounts of files into the memory. That's why Microsoft and Samsung are working on a new Hybrid hard drive that will use 1 GB flash memory as a buffer. They want to take part of the load of the spinning drive and to lower loading times and boot times drastically. Longhorn will fully support this technology. Microsoft and Samsung are still working on a way to unload files very fast from the harddisks flash memory. Next year Microsoft will start a huge marketing campaign for new hardware they are developing and they will give an update on the development of the Hybrid harddisk. When using a Hybrid harddisk in a mid-range computer of today (2 GHz, 1 GB RAM) you will have boot-times of about 5-10 seconds. Imagine how fast it goes in 2006.

Update 6: ICONS
In Longhorn icons will be completely changed. Documents don't have a icon anymore that shows the file-type, but it shows the first page of the document. Folder-icons will show you the inside files by using 3D technology. You'll see the files coming forward in a slideshow while you're watching the folder.

Longhorn will be the most stable OS ever. Microsoft admitted that it had problems with stability with Windows ME and XP (without SP), but they really are making work of making Longhorn unbelievably stable. Microsoft even has made three special teams that researched Longhorn and future technologies for two years. After Longhorn is released, Microsoft doesn't even have to release any updates to make Longhorn stable, because Longhorn manages itself automatically and disables processes that can make your computer unstable and are unneeded by the applications you're running.

Update 8: SECURITY
Longhorn will have a better internet security. Instead of using very advanced ways to protect your computer, they're using somewhat primitive ways to keep users away from your harddisk. For example, Longhorn is able to completely halt every type of data transfer from your computer to any hardware component and is able to pause your internet connection when there is happening something suspicious. Microsoft is developing software together with Symantec (Norton Antivirus) to detect virusses the moment they reach your harddisk. Longhorn will be able to quarantine certain parts of the harddisk and make sure a virus gets automatically removed (using Norton Antivirus).

Hardware especially made for Longhorn. Before Longhorn will be released in 2006, Microsoft will start the biggest marketing campaign ever, not just for the most advanced piece of software ever developed by more than 80.000 people (not only Microsoft), but also for the hardware that will be developed especially for Longhorn. As you've read before, there will be special harddrives, but there will be special videocards that will have to work constantly at 100%, extra fast memory and new processors to support the new multi-application technology Longhorn uses. For Longhorn Hyperthreading is a old technology. Longhorn will take advantage of it, but compared to the new technologies of the processors that are being developed it doesn't really help at all. There also will be newer soundcards to support the incredibly high sound quality that is possible when Longhorn is released. All hardware manufacturers are doing their best to get their new hardware finished before Longhorn is released. Microsoft promised that the prices won't go trough the roof.

Longhorn supports a new technology that has been developed. With this technology you're able to use multiple internet connections (max 4) at the same time. For example: You have an DSL internet connection with a download speed of 100Kb/sec and a cable inter net connection of 80 Kb/sec. And you're downloading a file from a different user who has an upload speed of 140 Kb/sec. When you're using those two internet connections, the DSL connection starts to download 100KB/sec and the left 40 Kb/sec gets downloaded by the cable connection. This means you'll always be downloading at top speed, as long as you can afford multiple internet connections. Because of this you're able to play up to four different games at the same time online with just one internet connection.

Microsoft has teamed up with Disney and a lot of music labels to improve copy protection for movies, music and software using digital rights management functionality in Longhorn. Microsoft said they will use heavy copy protection schemes, so users won't be able to copy digital media. This may scare of a lot of consumers, but Microsoft doesn't worry about that, because eventually everyone will go Longhorn (their words). This means no Warez anymore. Damn, now I even have to pay money to play games and watch movies.

Microsoft has announced that the Xbox 360 controller will work on Windows Longhorn too. They did this because they want Longhorn to be an upgraded version of the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 and Longhorn both will use a new technology that makes games run at the fastest speed possible. Because Microsoft is the 'leader' of the Xbox and Windows, they made it possible to connect your Xbox to your PC and download special content and updates for your games, without having to subscribe anything. The Xbox 360 uses the new multiple internet connections technology seen in Update 10. Downloading files can take some time, but thats not a problem anymore, because now you can play a game offline or online and download certain files at the same time! This is one of the advantages over the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Revolution. The XBox 360 has a lot more advantages, but the reason for all of that is the company thats behind the Xbox, Microsoft, the most powerful software company in the world. They made sure Sony and Nintendo couldn't make use of these new Windows technologies. So if you want compatibility between your console and your PC you'll have to buy a Xbox 360. It looks like Microsoft again has found a way to eliminate the competition.

Source: Link

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