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New graphics and animation toolset a Flash-killer?

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According to reports, Microsoft is developing a new graphics and animation toolset for its next operating system. The tool is already being referred to internally as a Flash-killer - but such claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, as much could change in the next three years.

If you can't buy them, beat them seems to be the message coming out of Microsoft. Microsoft is working on a graphics and animation toolset codenamed Sparkle, for its next operating system that integrates with the .NET runtime environment, according to reports.

Sparkle has given rise to talk inside Microsoft that it is a Flash or Director-killer, Macromedia's popular environments for creating and running rich multimedia content on PCs, devices and the web.

Reports of Sparkle have surfaced nearly a year after Microsoft was believed to be considering Macromedia for acquisition to significantly enhance Windows' scripting and graphics capabilities. Both companies refused to comment on a possible acquisition at the time.

Macromedia claims Flash is present on more than 90% of desktop computers, with the environment proving a popular graphics authoring and presentation environment.

With its latest planned operating system, codenamed Longhorn, Microsoft appears to be taking a significant step forward in graphics for Windows. Longhorn's Avalon interface is written in Microsoft's own XAML scripting language to separate presentation from business logic.

Avalon will use vector-based graphics, producing high-quality, 3D graphics despite consuming a low number of CPU cycles. Vector graphics are popular in gaming.

Sparkle will have access to all Longhorn APIs, potentially taking animation beyond the browser and allowing multiple graphics, such as different videos, to play in Windows simultaneously.

Reports of Sparkle's potential should be taken cautiously. Longhorn is not expected until 2006, giving Microsoft a three-year window of development opportunity during which anything could change. And, Microsoft's C Sharp programming language was also described as a killer prior to its launch, but failed to live up to the hype.

Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor

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