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Last straight line before Windows 8.1.

With a forecast of release by October 22nd, 2013, Windows 8.1 arrives at big step, with its procession of “novelties”.

Windows 8.1 publicity (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Windows 8.1 publicity (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Start button, new size of tiles, until four applications in parallel (according to the size of the screen), here is for the visible part. Lets add to it more personalization (start screen with notifications, animated background screen), possible starting up on the desktop, filters on applications, improved search, new applications…

 

Of new devices.

With the release of Windows 8.1 will come the second generation of Surfaces… Surface 2 and Surfaces 2 Pro.

Microsoft Surface 2 (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Microsoft Surface 2 (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Although RT disappeared from the title, the Surface 2 will have this version of the OS (that is Windows RT 8.1) and will work with a NVidia Tegra 4.

The Surface 2 Pro will turn under Windows 8.1 with a new generation Intel Corie I-5 (Haswell).

Office, SkyDrive (200 GB) and USB 3.0 for everybody πŸ˜‰

Without counting the possibility of adding it a “Surface Docking Station” supplying three USB 2.0, an USB 3.0, a connections Ethernet, an audio entry and the possibility of connecting it two screens… Of what to transform a Surface into real Desktop PC.

Still let us note the project “Remix”, a keyboard dedicated to the mix of pieces of music, usable with the musical applications (whith one on Xbox Music).

Let us hope that they will receive a better welcome than the previous generation, considering the biggest maturity of the OS and the most rand count of applications (100 000). Personally, only the price holds me πŸ™‚

Source (EN): TabletPC Review: Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2.

Other manufacturers announce too of new devices (tablets, cross, etc.) for the release of Windows 8.1… With always persistent rumors around a Nokia tablet (Sirius or Lumia on 2520). It will be necessary to wait on October 22nd to know more about it.

Source(EN): TabletPC Review: Nokia Sirius.

 

Of new uses.

With all this, also move forward the Xbox One and of “new uses”: Cloud Gaming. What is it?

Xbox One Cloud Gaming (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Xbox One Cloud Gaming (Clic to search on Amazon.com)

Cloud Gaming (or PROTIP project to Microsoft) allows to play since a Xbox One on a PC, a tablet or a Smartphone. The game being stored “on-line” the “power” of the terminal does not enter in account… Understand all the same broadband (we do not still know if the storage is on-line or in WAN). Microsoft have already run Halo 4 on Nokia Lumia 520 (understand bottom range Windows Phone 8). I hope that this kind of thing is going to succeed πŸ™‚

 

Conclusion:

Things continue to move in the Microsoft ecosystem. Although there will be no independent games on Xbox One before 2014, this more and more coherent set Windows/Windows Phone/Xbox is always very attractive for the .Net developer I am… And there are new and interesting things to be made πŸ™‚

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Update of the Windows ecosystem…

For a month, things evolved on Windows side…

 

Let us begin with Windows Store (in June 21st, 2013).

Microsoft centralizes various services which can be used in the Windows Store gallery (Windows 8) so that developers can find them in the same place.

In this is added AppCelerator directed on the resources of development (tools, tutorials, guides, demos and advice).

Source: Microsoft

Also let us note the update of the SDK and a guide for Windows 8 towards Windows 8.1 application migration (available in download).

Source: Microsoft

 

Then, Windows Phone (in June – July 8th).

On the menu, an extension of the support until 2016 and a company pack, leaks on Windows Phone 8.1 (new notification center, UI changes, quad-core support, etc.) and the Toolkit June update (correction of bugs, localization).

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

 

Finally, the Xbox One (at the beginning of July)…

Being gone back for the internet connection and the DRM, it’s the turn of the publication of independent games. The independent developers can publish their games themselves without passing by a publisher.

Marc Whitten quote:

Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox Live. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.

Source: IGN

 

Things move in the right direction πŸ˜‰

DirectX 11.2, some new for Windows 8.1 and Xbox One.

During Build 2013, Microsoft presented DirectX 11.2.

DirectX

DirectX

But what’s new (and especially interesting) in this technology?

The one who mainly held attention they are “Tiled resources”. She allows, roughly, to assign big resources (understand textures) shared between the system memory and the graphic memory. The objective is a better use of the resources of the graphics board and the possibility of showing more detailed graphics. We can also imagine type MegaTexture’s application, for example (MegaTexture).

Video: What’s New in Direct3D 11.2

 

NVidia published explanations on the various cases of use on its blog (by Henry Moreton, one of the GeForce GPU architects):

Source: Higher Fidelity Graphics With Less Memory At Microsoft Build

 

Among the evolutions, we find the pre-compilation of shadersΒ (HLSL), improvements of profiling / debugging, improvement the latency CPU / GPU (useful to reduce the consumption of the mobile equipments), the resize of the “frame to buffer” (variation of the resolution to make vary the performances / quality), finally the “Trim” command used to mark temporary buffers in the video memory so that they are freed during the putting in break of an application (allowing the other applications to have the memory, nice πŸ˜‰ ).

Source: DirectX 11.2 Tiled Resources

 

The constraint of all this? DirectX 11.2 will be available only on Windows 8.1 and Xbox One… Selling point obliges (logic). Otherwise, good news, a “simple” software update of the drivers of graphics card will return all this available on a large number of GPU (AMD supplying the graphics card of the Xbox One and Microsoft having worked with the GTX 770 of Nvidia for the demo of Build):

  • The GeForce 400/500/600 will be compatible with Direct3D 11.2 and will support “Tiled resources “.
  • Radeon HD 5000/6000 will be compatible with Direct3D 11.2 but will not support “Tiled resources “.
  • Radeon HD 7000 will be compatible with Direct3D 11.2 and will support “Tiled resources “.

Source (FR): Directx 11.2 Gpu Actuels

 

In any case this “Tiled resources” management is going to be interesting for large landscape rendering πŸ™‚

Xbox One: no more DRM nor compulsory internet connection!

Things settle…

 

After Sony PS4 announcement and the stir in the community, Microsoft clarifies things on two points:

  • No more DRM;
  • No more permanent Internet connection.

It means that the loan or the resale of games will be possible with the Xbox One and that the users not having access to Internet can use it.

Source: Xbox One no mode DRM

 

It’s just lacking the “Inde friendly” side… Software updates so fast arrived πŸ™‚

 

See you soon for other short stories πŸ˜‰

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