Having backported a number of key Windows 7 technologies, including DirectX 11 from Windows 7 to its predecessor, Microsoft is now offering users of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP2) a platform update supplement. The recently released Platform Update Supplement Beta for Windows Vista is obviously designed to catalyze the evolution of the Platform Update for Windows Vista. According to the Redmond company, the supplement is in Beta stage at this point in time, so end users should not install it yet, and leave the testing to early adopters familiar with running pre-release software.
“A beta release of the Platform Update Supplement for Windows Vista is available. This update provides fixes and improvements to graphics, media foundation and print functionality in Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2),” Microsoft stated.
Microsoft also enumerated the changes delivered by the Platform Update Supplement, including
“Graphics - This update improves text rendering performance of Direct2D and conformance of Direct2D when you use Direct2D in the following modes:
– Software rendering mode.
– Hardware rendering mode with a Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP) type device driver.
Media foundation – This update enables the playback of MP4 files, H.264 files, and AAC files by using the Source Reader component. Because of this improvement, a Windows compatible browser can handle contents that include the video tag of HTML 5 correctly.
Print functionality – This update fixes an issue in the XPS-to-GDI conversion (XGC) module when you apply the brush transform attribute of the visual brush. Before you install this update, the coordinates are drawn incorrectly if the following conditions are true:
– The viewport rectangle of the visual brush is the clip region for a graphic element.
– You apply the brush transform attribute.
In this situation, the wrong coordinates cause the output to be empty. After you install this update, the clip region and the path of the visual brush match correctly. Therefore, the output is generated as expected.”
If you were to ask me, my best guess is that Microsoft is kicking up a notch the Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library delivered through the Platform Update for Windows Vista, in concert with such releases as Internet Explorer 9, and the rich clients bundled into Windows Live Wave 4, including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, etc. All the applications mentioned above have intimate connections with the underlining graphics technology in Windows 7, namely DirectX 11.
Some customers might already be familiar with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, and know that the release has three key parts, the Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library, the Windows Automation API and the Windows Ribbon and Animation Manager Library. It is the Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library that will allow Vista SP2 users to get the very best out of gaming, multimedia, imaging and printing applications, but only in relation to modern graphics technologies and hardware.
As far as the Platform Update Supplement is concerned, the new Print functionality is obviously focused on resolving a problem in the XPS-to-GDI conversion (XGC) module. The Graphics and Media foundation changes are a tad more interesting. Especially if the fact that support hardware acceleration for 2D is included in DirectX 11 – with the supplement enhancing the software and hardware rendering modes. In terms of DirectX, the Platform Update for Windows Vista offers DirectWrite, Direct2D, Direct3D 11, Windows Imaging Components updates, XPS Print API, XPS Rasterization Service, and DXGI 1.1.
Not only Internet Explorer 9 is hardware accelerated, but also components of Windows Live Essentials Wave 4, such as Windows Live Messenger. In addition, IE9, along with additional browsers, come with HTNL5 video support. IE9 in particular is designed to play nice with the H.264 codec for HTML5 video.
Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 – Five Language Standalone for x64-based systems (KB948465) is available for download here