It’s been a busy week this week. I have finally completed support for both Vista and Windows 7 in ViGlance. Since Windows 7’s architecture at the moment is not much different than Vista’s (as far as the taskbar layout is concerned) no additional effort was required to make it work with Windows 7. Hold that thought, no this post isn’t to start a debate about the differences between Windows 7 and Vista.
Though I will say it’s intriguing to see that Windows 7 shell is finally making good use of the available technologies that have been implemented since Vista. I am of course referring to the “new” hardware accelerated rendering system in Windows Vista (DWM) and naturally in Windows 7.
For those who haven’t used windows long enough to know how it works (lucky people), I will attempt to explain why this is significant (to me and my software). Perhaps the only significant change between Windows Vista and XP is the way in which Windows displays information on your monitor. Traditionally (before Windows Vista) Windows displayed and constructed visual information that’s sent to your video memory (the actual stuff you see on the screen) using your computer’s primary processor (CPU). That sounds logical. Its fine in most cases where visual information isn’t in a potential ‘flux’ and when there’s little visual information to deal with. However consider a game (I don’t mean games like PacMan or Space Invaders, consider <insert another randomly over hyped FPS here>), or a Vista window animation. Visual data is almost in constant flux during the animation. That’s a lot of visual information to process and then display. “Did you ever wonder why Vista really isn’t Laptop battery friendly? Why you should never play games when on your Laptop when it’s unplugged and why NetBooks don’t use Vista?”.
This post got too long. In order to cut things down, accept that hardware became more powerful and various concepts got redesigned. Today a separate processor deals with graphical data. (GPU) and separate memory buffers are used to store such graphical data. This is directly connected and handled on a separate computer (or rather mini-computer) that is specifically designed to handle graphics based commands inside your actual computer. That about sums up a graphics card today. Microsoft had developed a technology that gave developers an almost direct contact to this mini-computer. (Direct X), which was originally designed for games. They then decided to integrate this into the way that Windows displayed graphical information. They called this implimentation (DWM; Desktop Window Manager).
DWM among other things is the technology responsible for “Windows Live Thumbnail Previews”. So I don’t intend to simply “support Vista”. I intend to make the most of what’s available on each individual NT based operating system. I intend to prove this with later releases of SuperBar, ViSplore and ViStart. The first part is finally done. To get SuperBar (ViGlance) to be compatible with Windows Vista.
I will be making this build public somepoint this weekend. ViGlance has now been updated to support Vista and Windows Seven. It can now be downloaded from the ViGlance home page
Enjoy the weekend,