Microsoft PressPass – Microsoft Graphics Platforms and Technologies On Meteoric Rise at SIGGRAPH ’96
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 5, 1996 — In 1994, hardly a product supporting Microsoft® platforms could be found. In 1995, they could be found, but mostly behind closed doors.
But this year, Microsoft platforms and technologies have exploded onto the SIGGRAPH ’96 show floor. They’re setting stunning price/performance benchmarks and often exceeding the features of traditional UNIX® -based workstation applications. As a result, SIGGRAPH ’96 attendees are being treated to a dazzling array of new hardware products, authoring and animation software, graphics-accelerator cards and technology demonstrations – all based on Microsoft multimedia platforms and technologies.
Consider the following:
Among almost 300 SIGGRAPH ’96 exhibitors, more than 200 are showing applications based on the Windows NT® and Windows® 95 operating systems or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0.
In just one year, the number of SIGGRAPH exhibitors shipping Windows-based products has jumped more than 350 percent. More than 110 SIGGRAPH ’96 exhibitors are shipping Windows-based products, up from 25 at SIGGRAPH ’95. This includes 83 software companies and 50 hardware companies.
“Never before has a professional market adopted a new platform so rapidly,”
Bill Caffrey, vice president and director of advanced technology strategies for The Gartner Group.
“Without doubt, Microsoft platforms are setting the new standard for professional content production.”
“Windows NT-based systems have become the graphics target platform of choice for virtually all the workstation graphics applications,”
said John Latta, president of Fourth Wave, an industry analyst firm. This shift marks a major change in workstation market dynamics as the PC, through Windows NT, increasingly penetrates what was the exclusive territory of the workstations only a few years ago.
Authoring: From Internet to Feature Films
Breaking through price/performance barriers and providing a robust authoring environment, Windows NT is quickly becoming the preferred platform for creative professionals. Already, many feature films, commercials and interactive game titles are being produced with Windows NT-based hardware and software.
Content creation software. Virtually every leading content creation and authoring software package – including Softimage® 3D, Macromedia® Director, Adobe Illustrator
and Kinetix’s 3D Studio MAX – is now available for Windows NT. These products match or exceed the functionality of workstation-based products and take advantage of Windows NT support for multiprocessing, multitasking and networking capabilities.
Hardware. New microprocessors – such as Intel® Pentium® Pro and Digital’s Alpha – are forging new performance standards. OpenGL® -based graphics cards from innovators such as AccelGraphics Inc. and Dynamic Pictures are providing better-than-workstation interactive performance. Almost every leading PC company now offers high-performance, specially optimized hardware for creative professionals. Companies such as Digital Equipment Corp., Intergraph Corp., NEC Technologies Inc. and NeTpower Inc. are aggressively marketing extremely fast yet affordable systems, including single-, dual- and quad-CPU systems.
Playback: Games and More
Microsoft platforms and technology are emerging as the leading playback systems for both CD-ROM and the Internet. Microprocessor technology and graphics-accelerator cards provide arcade-like quality and speed.
Titles. Virtually every leading game company – including Activision Inc., id Software, DreamWorks Interactive and Microsoft Corp.’s own interactive media division – is now producing titles for Windows 95-based systems. More than 100 titles are available today, with hundreds more scheduled to be available by the 1996 holiday season. Hundreds of titles make use of the Microsoft DirectX
set of APIs, including the Direct3D
Internet applications. Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 is rapidly becoming the leading multimedia-enabled browser through ActiveX
Controls, support for the Java language, and now incorporation of VRML 2.0. Companies such as Dimension X and OnLive! Technologies Inc. are offering a new breed of Internet-based multimedia applications.
Hardware. Fast and affordable Intel Pentium microprocessors have placed multimedia-enabled PCs within the budgets of most home buyers. Graphics-accelerator card manufacturers such as Creative Labs Inc. and Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc. are harnessing the power of a new breed of high-performance graphics processors from companies including 3Dfx Interactive, ATI Technologies Inc., Rendition Inc. and S3. Many leading PC manufacturers will offer Direct3D-based products in time for the holiday season; these products include the IBM® Aptiva, Compaq® Presario and NEC Technologies PowerMate and Ready systems.
Microsoft: Enabling the Change
Because platforms and APIs are based on open systems, thousands of companies are expected to accelerate the rate of innovation over the next year. Microsoft is moving rapidly to put in place additional platforms, products and initiatives to fuel the explosive growth of the creative market and keep customers and hardware and software vendors on the cutting edge. The products and initiatives include these:
Windows NT 4.0. Windows NT 4.0 includes DirectX 2.0 components (except for Direct3D, which will be included as a software implementation in the Windows NT 4.0 software development kit. Full integration of Direct3D, including hardware acceleration, is expected to be available later this year). Windows NT 4.0 also includes a new version of OpenGL, the open industry standard 3-D API for professional graphics applications. OpenGL 1.1 includes performance-critical new features for encapsulating geometry data (vertex array) and handling multiple textures (texture object). The Microsoft release is the first available implementation of the OpenGL 1.1 specification. The new release also incorporates a new, optimized pipeline that improves performance by between 2.5 and 4 times on SPEC/OPC benchmarks, making it the fastest OpenGL software renderer available in the industry today. This new version of OpenGL is also being supported on Windows 95 and is scheduled to be packaged with Windows 95 for OEM preinstalled systems later this year.
ActiveX. ActiveX, an open, cross-platform set of technologies for integrating components on the Internet, has been widely adopted by corporate MIS and ISV communities. As the leading commercial object model, ActiveX is used by millions of application and content developers. Hundreds of ISVs currently market over 1,000 ActiveX Controls. Microsoft is transitioning ActiveX specifications and appropriate technology to an industry-standards body. The group will be a customer-driven organization in which Microsoft is one of many members involved in decision making.
DirectX interactive media API. DirectX is a suite of APIs for hardware and software developers that delivers the next generation of high-performance, real-time multimedia for the Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems. DirectX includes Direct3D, which offers developers a highly optimized 3-D software rendering engine with transparent, high-performance, device-independent services that fully exploit the advanced features of any underlying hardware. Microsoft will continue to expand the DirectX set of APIs to include support for new types of hardware acceleration, input devices, multiplayer applications, 3-D sound and other elements.
Direct3D support for Intel’s MMX
. Microsoft’s Direct3D is the first widely distributed 3-D graphics API to be optimized for Intel’s new MMX technology. Applications based on Direct3D – either shipping or in development – will automatically take advantage of Intel processors with MMX technology. Microsoft and Intel Corp. will continue to work closely to ensure that MMX technology and Direct3D are enhanced and scale for successive generations of the Intel architecture.
ActiveMovie. The ActiveMovie API is a next-generation, cross-platform digital video technology for the desktop and the Internet. With ActiveMovie, developers and creative professionals will be able to create and deliver stunning titles on multiple platforms with crisp synchronized audio, video and special effects. ActiveMovie also provides a flexible, extensible,
architecture that delivers easy integration of new technologies, third-party enhancements and real-time special effects.
Talisman. Talisman is the code name for a technology initiative by Microsoft for the research and deployment of advanced multimedia technologies for the hardware industry. Talisman is a DirectX hardware reference design for 2-D and 3-D graphics, video and advanced audio functionality. The reference design will be used by vendors to create motherboard implementations and graphics-accelerator cards.
More information on Microsoft graphics platforms and technologies is available on the Microsoft Developer Network Web site at http://microsoft.com/msdn/ . General information can be found at (http://microsoft.com/) .Information on Microsoft graphics research can be found at (http://www.research.microsoft.com/) . More information on Softimage products can be found at (http://www.softimage.com/) .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft, Windows NT, Windows, DirectX, Direct3D, ActiveX and ActiveMovie are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Ltd.
Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
Macromedia is a registered trademark of Macromedia Inc.
Adobe Illustrator is a trademark of Adobe Systems Inc.
Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks and MMX is a trademark of Intel Corp.
OpenGL is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc.
IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corp.
Compaq is a registered trademark of Compaq Corp.
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