Microsoft made waves in the browser community by being the first to announce GPU accelerated browsing, but oddly enough, it looks like they will be in a neck and neck race with Mozilla to be the first to market with the new feature in an official release. Firefox 4 Beta 4 which is releasing on Monday will include support for Direct2D acceleration; unfortunately however a few technical glitches have kept it from being “on” by default.
Luckily Mozilla has released details on how to reactivate it on their Wiki, and the process is pretty simple.
·Direct2D is not turned on by default for Firefox 4 beta 4. (We weren't confident enough to turn it on for all users.)
·However, all the code is in Firefox 4 beta 4, and it should work reasonably well for everyone.
·We really need testers, both on the beta and on nightlies. (We plan to enable Direct2D in nightlies as soon as beta 4 is tagged and branched.)
·To turn on Direct2D: Go in to about:config and set mozilla.widget.render-mode to 6, and gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled to true.
·To turn off Direct2D, once it is on by default, set mozilla.widget.render-mode to 0.
·To check whether you are running with Direct2D, go to about:support and look at the bottom. (Once bug 586046 lands, there will be even more - information about your graphics card in there.)
·Please look out for memory usage, rendering speed, and any rendering problems you might see. Also focus on interactions with plugins like Flash.
Beta 4 will also bring the first official implementation of Tab Candy, a feature that is great for users with more tabs than pixels.
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.
To learn more about Direct2D, join us after the jump.