Microsoft to bring DirectX 8 gaming to PDAs

Bigger screens too


Microsoft plans to radically boost the multimedia performance of the next generation of PDAs and smartphones based on its software, if pronouncements made at this year's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) come to fruition.

We're not just talking bigger screen sizes here. PDC coverage among specialist Pocket PC and smartphone sites has focused on the software giant's plan to raise the resolutions supported by Windows Mobile devices to 480 x 640 for Pocket PCs and 240 x 320 for smartphones.

That titbit, revealed in a 'Developing for Windows Mobile' session, followed Toshiba's launch last week of a Pocket PC with a 4in 480 x 640 screen. Of course, only specially written software supports the Toshiba e800's display - running the OS and regular apps drops the screen into the traditional 240 x 320 mode. But it's clear that Microsoft intends to support bigger screen resolutions in future versions of its operating system.

Bigger screens are nice, but were a logical step in the evolution of both hardware and software. More interesting is Microsoft's announcement to roll its DirectX multimedia APIs into Windows Mobile.

Interestingly, the company's porting efforts are centring on the visual components of DirectX - DirectDraw for 2D, Direct3D and DirectShow for camera and video digitisation support - rather than audio.

Anyway, adding these APIs - all of which are now very well established on the PC and Microsoft's Xbox games, and are widely used by developers - should see an increase in the availability of 3D content, primarily games. Nokia is obviously touting the availability of that kind of content as a selling point for its N-Gage console-cum-phone, but it's not hard to imagine it rolling out its own 3D technology into other devices such as the successors to the media-friendly phones it announced yesterday.

Microsoft doesn't want to be left behind, particularly when mobile media is likely to become a more important selling point than personal information management, as the PDA becomes increasingly sidelined as buyers choose smartphones and media-focused devices such as the Portable Media Centre concept its currently trying to persuade consumer electronics companies to buy into.

The PMC is based on Windows CE.NET, as is Windows Mobile, so it's not hard to see the need to add a solid multimedia foundation to the one platform being touted as a gain for the other.

It also plays very neatly into Intel's hand, which is itself bringing PC processor technology to its PDA and smartphone-oriented XScale chips. The next generation of XScale, codenamed 'Bulverde', will support a version of Intel's MMX technology, which is essentially a bunch of extra instructions that accelerate the kind of calculations multimedia apps do. DirectX will undoubtedly leverage MMX, allowing Intel to tout its chip as the best processor for next-generation Pocket PCs and PMCs.

Meanwhile, ATI and Nvidia are increasingly looking to take their graphics acceleration technology into the handheld arena, and the availability on mobile platforms of an established API to connect applications to their hardware will be of considerable benefit to them. Windows Mobile's DirectX implementation is likely to be based on DirectX 8 - not the cutting edge, but a pretty powerful version nonetheless.

Intel's Bulverde is due in the second half of 2004, coincidentally also the timeframe for not only the next version of Windows Mobile - the one with DirectX support - but the new release schedule for PMCs, too.

Equally coincidentally - surely? - that's around the time we expect to see Palm OS licensees shipping Palm OS 6 devices. Many of new OS' key improvements centre on multimedia and graphics, and the Palm's acquisition of Be suddenly starts to make a lot more sense. As we've reported before Palm OS 6's multimedia and graphics frameworks are drawn from BeOS, and should provide the platform with equivalent rich media APIs as Microsoft wants to bring to Windows Mobile. ®

Related Stories

MS 'Windows for iPod' delayed but still marks death of PDA
Nokia's 7700 'media device' - first shot in the PDA wars?
Intel preps 'Xbox in a phone' XScale chip
Sony to work with Intel on mobile music tech

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Why should I pay for that security option? Hijacking only happens to planes

    But if I give him my bank details, I'll be rich!

    On Call Friday is here. We'd suggest an adult beverage or two to celebrate, but only if you BYOB. While you fill your suitcase, may we present an episode of On Call in which a reader saves his boss from a dunking.

    Our tale comes from a reader Regomised as "Ed" and is set earlier this century. Ed was working as a developer in a biotech lab. He rarely spoke to the director, but did speak to the director's personal assistant a lot.

    This PA was very much a jack of all trades (and master of... well, you get the drift). HR? He was in charge of that. Ops? That too. Anything technical? Of course. Heck, even though the firm had its very own bean counter, one had to go through the PA to get anything paid or budgets approved.

    Continue reading
  • UK, Australia, to build 'network of liberty that will deter cyber attacks before they happen'

    Enhanced 'Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership' will transport crime to harsh penal regime on the other side of the world

    The United Kingdom and Australia have signed a Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership that will, among other things, transport criminals to a harsh penal regime on the other side of the world.

    Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss yesterday inked the document in Sydney but haven't revealed the text of the pact.

    What we do know is that the two nations have pledged to "Increase deterrence by raising the costs for hostile state activity in cyberspace – including through strategic co-ordination of our cyber sanctions regimes." That's code for both nations adopting the same deterrents and punishments for online malfeasance so that malfeasants can't shop jurisdictions to find more lenient penalties.

    Continue reading
  • Japan's Supreme Court rules cryptojacking scripts are not malware

    Coinhive-slinger wins on appeal

    A man found guilty of using the Coinhive cryptojacking script to mine Monero on users' PCs while they browsed the web has been cleared by Japan's Supreme Court on the grounds that crypto mining software is not malware.

    Tokyo High Court ruled against the defendant, 34-year-old Seiya Moroi, on charges of keeping electromagnetic records of an unjust program. That unjust program was Coinhive, a "cryptojacking" script that mines for Monero by pinching some CPU cycles when users visit a web page that includes the code. Moroi ran the code on his website.

    Coinhive has been blocked by malware and antivirus vendors as it slows down other processes, increases utility bills, and creates wear and tear on your device. But in many ways Coinhive's Javascript code acts no differently to advertisements.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022