With the release of the Windows 8 operating system just around the corner, Microsoft is highlighting the features that promise to make this OS better than Windows 7. Hardware acceleration is a point one considers while upgrading an OS or shifting to another OS. So the company is giving out information on the new hardware acceleration features available to client applications in the new Windows 8 OS.

A fresh new look

Bringing hardware acceleration into Windows 8

Microsoft’s graphics team claims that graphics performance has been a big focus for Microsoft's next-generation operating system. In a post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft’s graphics group programme manager Rob Copeland explains,”Graphics performance on Windows depends on both the operating system and the hardware system, comprised of the CPU, the GPU (graphics processing unit), and the associated display driver. To ensure that we could deliver a great experience for new Metro style apps, we needed to make sure that both the software platform and the hardware system would deliver great performance. In the past we’ve used many different benchmarks and apps to measure the performance of DirectX. These have been largely focused on 3D games. While games are still very important, we knew that many of these existing ways to measure graphics performance did not tell us everything we needed to know for graphics-intensive, 2D, mainstream apps. So, we created new scenario-focused tests and metrics to track our progress.”

Frame rate, glitch count, time to first frame, memory utilisation and CPU utilisation were the metrics used in the tests to determine the graphics performance of Windows 8. And the result, based on work carried out on adding DirectX hardware acceleration to Microsoft apps including Internet Explorer 9, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger, delivers best possible graphics performance for general 2D applications. Text-rendering performance is boosted up to 336 percent over Windows 7, whereas geometry rendering has also received a boost using a DirectX 11.1 feature called Target Independent Rasterization or TIR. 

“We worked closely with our graphics hardware partners to design TIR. Dramatic improvements were made possible because of that partnership. DirectX 11.1 hardware is already on the market today and we're working with our partners to make sure more TIR-capable products will be broadly available,” Copeland claims of the TIR feature.

Earlier this week, we had reported about some new leaked screenshots of the Windows 8 Metro and how Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned in making its new OS a success with its users. Going by the screenshots, the new OS does look more revamped and refreshed. The screenshots suggest that the OS promises a host of changes including a boot screen with the new Metro-style logo, Internet Explorer 10 that interacts with the colour of the Windows 8 theme, new colour picker options for the desktop UI, additional Metro inspired wallpapers and backgrounds for lock screen.

Microsoft’s new operating system is special for a number of reasons. It is going to be available for both desktops and tablets. It will also be available for ARM devices through an operating system called Windows RT, which includes the all-new Metro user interface. PCs, notebooks and x86 tablets will have access to the standard Windows 8 operating system, which will include both the new Metro user interface as well as the traditional desktop user interface. The Metro user interface is designed specifically for tablets and touchscreens.

Windows 8 Release to Manufacturers (RTM) build will be available in the first week of August and Windows RT PCs will reach the general audience by October this year.

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