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Startup paves MS way to make DirectX Web standard

A startup founded by the author of... DirectX. Funny that...

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Updated Now here's an interesting snippet; software developer WildTangent has gone to beta 2 with a piece of software that will allow Web designers to incorporate games-style DirectX special effects into their sites. This is of course good news for Microsoft, which wants to get the Windows-only DirectX established as a general standard - so far it's been pretty successful in getting it into the games market, but clearly further leverage would be helpful. WildTangent's Web Driver for Streaming Interactive 2D/3D Media allows designers to stream hardware-accelerated graphics and sound to Web pages using basic scripting, taking advantage of DirectX APIs. Says WildTangent: "With the current beta release, web designers can create web pages incorporating nearly all of the effects found in the most popular PC video games." These effects won't just be used for games sites, of course. The company envisages them enhancing a whole range of applications, including maps, weather, stocks and e-commerce. The Web driver supports Win95, 98, NT 4.0 and Win2k. "The WildTangent web driver takes a very pragmatic approach to Internet graphics and interactivity by letting DirectX do all of the heavy lifting," said Jeremy Kenyon, chief technology officer at WildTangent. Cool or what? But exactly where did WildTangent spring from? Well, it's based in Redmond (ahem...) and was founded in July 1998 "by former Microsoft Evangelist and DirectX creator Alex St. John and his partner Cambridge Mathematican, Jeremy Kenyon." DirectX author and evangelist forms startup to broaden uptake of DirectX technology on the Web? WildTangent is currently privately-held, but relations with former colleagues at Microsoft are presumably good, and the company looks suspiciously like one of those investments Microsoft might find curiously compelling at some point in the future. AdditionalRegular Register readers will at this point be wondering about the market similarity between WildTangent's 'DirectX for the Web' concept and... er... Microsoft's ill-fated 'DirectX for the Web' project, Chromeffects. Chromeffects was launched in July 1998 (the same month WildTangent was formed, you'll note) but canned the following November. It was an Extensible Markup Language (XML) based system that allowed Web site to access client PC's DirectX software through HTML-style coding. Basically, you get whizzo graphics sans the bandwidth drain. Chromeffects was originally part of the DirectX development programme but was ultimately moved over to Microsoft's streaming media division. That ream recently release Windows Media Technologies 4.0, Microsoft's bid to dominate online music and beat RealNetworks at its own game. Whether some vestige of Chromeffects remains is unclear -- probably not, since XML has yet to become the standard Microsoft hoped that by now it would have become. WildTangent's software is based on scripting rather than XML (though they're not that dissimilar) -- Webmaster just code up pages to pass data to WT objects which access DirectX through a plug in. ®

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