GDI/GDI+, Move Over: Microsoft Introduces Direct2D

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For most of the last decade, improving 3D performance has been the primary goal of operating system, application (read gaming) developers, and hardware developers. However, when you're at work, trying hard to make the money you need to buy a new HDTV and über-gaming PC, you're probably working in a 2D world that's being managed by the creaky GDI/GDI+ APIs which were first developed back to the 1990s.

This week, Microsoft introduced a replacement for GDI/GDI+ called Direct2D. Microsoft's Thomas Olsen, a Dev Lead in the Windows Desktop Graphics organization, uses his new blog to bring us up to speed on why we need the new Direct2D API and how it will make PCs work better.

Olson points out that GDI/GDI+ use software rendering for tasks that modern GPUs can now perform, and that GDI/GDI+ is a completely separate subsystem from Direct3D. Direct2D, as the name implies, is designed to run on top of Direct3D, enabling support of modern GPUs while retaining compatibility with GDI/GDI+. Direct2D will be part of Windows 7, but it might also be deployed to Windws Vista and even Windows XP.

Direct2D provides better performance and better ClearType font rendering than with GDI/GDI+, and provides the ability to run in software mode if Direct2D hardware support is not available. Even in software mode, Direct2D is designed to provide "substantially better rendering performance than GDI+ with similar visual quality," according to the PDC 2008 white paper "Introducing Direct2D."

You can download a copy of this white paper, but note that it uses Office 2007's DocX format. If you need a DocX reader, you can download Microsoft's reader (which also requires the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats, available here ), or download OpenOffice 3.0. Be sure to check out Tom's Blog for more Direct2D information as it becomes available.

If you use 2D graphics as part of your work or leisure time, what do you think about Direct2D? Hit Comments and tell us your thoughts.

Illustration courtesy of Tom's Blog .

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