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'Avalon' Community Technical Preview Released

Microsoft earlier this month released a Community Technical Preview of "Avalon," the new presentation subsystem for Windows.

It is the third major technical preview of the technology, and the first to stand on its own for use with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The first two Avalon previews existed inside technical previews of the Windows "Longhorn" operating system distributed at the Professional Developers Conference in October 2003 and at WinHEC this year.

Up until late August, the Longhorn operating system had three code-named pillars: Avalon, Indigo and WinFS. Then Microsoft decided to pull WinFS from the operating system in order to hit a 2006 delivery schedule for the Longhorn client. At the same time, Microsoft officials decided to extend the Avalon and Indigo technologies to the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 platforms to give developers a broader installed base for their next-generation applications.

In Microsoft's definition, Avalon is the unified presentation subsystem for Windows and consists of a display engine and a managed-code framework. "'Avalon' unifies how Windows creates, displays, and manipulates documents, media, and user interfaces, which enables developers and designers to create visually-stunning, differentiated user experiences that improve customer connection."

Avalon's DirectX-based engine provides a single runtime for browser-based applications, forms-based applications, graphics, video, audio and documents. Also included with Avalon is an Avalon framework and XAML, a markup language for declaratively representing user interface for Windows applications. The distribution also includes an initial release of the WinFX SDK.

Some highlights of the new Avalon preview include a new storyboard concept, providing a mechanism for orchestrating animations across multiple objects; more advanced 3D drawing functionality; ink-enablement for Tablet PC applications, and better support for globalization.

For more information on Longhorn, click here to view ENT's recent "Longhorn Status Report."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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