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Some Examples of Intel Hardware Improving the Windows 8.1 Experience

, 17 Mar 2014 CPOL
Upgrading to Windows 8.1 further refines the Windows 8 user experience. Many of the changes are subtle, but there are some significant points that showcase the performance and power of Intel architecture.

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Upgrading to Windows 8.1 further refines the Windows 8 user experience. Many of the changes are subtle, but there are some significant points that showcase the performance and power of Intel architecture.

Wireless Display (using the Miracast standard) Embedded in OS

WiDi is a new user paradigm; content that was previously trapped on the computer can be shown on a TV or conference room projector. Rather than using messy wires and adapters, WiDi-enabled devices search for nearby receptive targets, connecting as easily as a phone to a Bluetooth headset. This is made possible by Windows 8.1 embedding the standard into the OS. A brief introductory video is available at https://www-ssl.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/widi-for-windows-8-1-video.html.

Dual-screen apps with video or animations running on both screens simultaneously (while the CPU is doing 1080p encoding for the WiDi stream) are very performance sensitive. The MTV app mentioned in the link above has 5 simultaneous video streams. The developers found they could only do this with the power of an Intel Core CPU; with competitors or lower-performance CPUs, the interface needed to be dialed back to a single video with 4 static images representing the other streams.

Dual-screen apps are supported by the Windows Store, with sample code and an API reference available on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/windows.devices.wifidirect.aspx). The apps work on multiple processor families; 3rd and 4th Generation Intel® Core™ processors and Intel Atom, Intel Pentium, and Intel Centrino Processors based on the Bay Trail architecture offer the performance and WiDi support necessary for these high-quality apps. Given the market represented by these devices, apps that take advantage of dual-screen will stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Internet Explorer 11 Leverages Hardware

Windows 8.1 features Internet Explorer 11 as not only its main web browser but also the engine for HTML5-based Windows Store Apps. Internet Explorer 11 supports multiple types of hardware acceleration including offloaded JPG decoding and WebGL rendering.

Offloading a segment of the image decoding process to the GPU allows the images to load up to 45% faster, with as much as 40% lower memory consumption. The most recent statistics at http://httparchive.org/interesting.php?a=All&l=Nov%2015%202013 show that images constitute the largest percentage of internet traffic per page, and JPG/JPEG images are the largest percentages of images respectively, this improvement on load times and memory consumption is significant in terms of user experience and battery life.

WebGL provides GPU-accelerated graphics rendering for a web platform. It is still maturing, but there are some key benefits (most related to its foundation in JavaScript). Content is enriched by interactivity with the surrounding HTML and JavaScript code, many libraries and hardware peripherals make HTML5/JavaScript a rewarding development target, and multiple game engines and frameworks can export to JavaScript for WebGL usage. As the tool chain for WebGL development matures, it will become a viable platform for apps and games on all levels from indie individuals to AAA studios.

There are many examples of WebGL available online, such as this from http://oos.moxiecode.com/js_webgl/tube_draw/

Intel and Windows

A device with an Intel processor remains the best way to experience Windows 8, and the new features in Windows 8.1 make that even more apparent. Intel engineers continue working on new power, performance, and convenience improvements to support current and future versions of Windows.

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This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Brad_Hill

United States United States
Brad Hill is a Software Engineer at Intel in the Developer Relations Division. Brad investigates new technologies on Intel hardware and shares the best methods with software developers via the Intel Developer Zone and at developer conferences. He also runs Code for Good Student Hackathons at colleges and universities around the country.

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