Earlier this week, we released two important products:
Internet Explorer 9 Beta and
Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools RTM.
At first glance, these products have nothing to do with Windows Azure. But if
dimensions of the cloud, you'll recognize these products represent the
advancements in "smarter" devices.
- The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities
- The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
- The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions
- The cloud wants smarter devices
- The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud
IE 9 unleashes the power of Windows PC
IE 9 is a browser for Windows PC, which is a powerful device. The power of
modern PCs mainly come from 2 components: CPU and GPU. Browsers (and thus HTML
web applications) have been utilizing as much as CPU powers as possible for many
years. But in the past, GPU was always treated as a second class citizen.
When it comes to graphic computation, GPU is much more powerful than CPU. For
example, GPU allows you to work on ALL pixels in parallel, while CPU only allows
you to work on 4 pixels at the same time, if you have a quad-core CPU. If GPU is
not used when working with graphics, you're only utilizing about 10% of modern
PC's processing power.
IE 9 wakes up your GPU. It uses Direct2D and DirectWrite under the hook,
which in turn is built upon Direct3D 10. As you probably know, Direct3D is
powering most of the 3D commercial games available today. It is a very powerful
graphics processing API. Powered by Direct2D and DirectWrite, IE 9 increases the
performance of graphic intensive web applications tremendously, without you
having to rewrite a single line of code!
IE 9 also supports the latest industrial standard, like HTML 5, CSS 3, and
SVG. And of course, Plug-ins like Silverlight continue to work fine.
We Azure technical forum support team wrote a test app about canvas on
http://smalldemos.cloudapp.net/Html5Demos/CanvasDemo.htm. The next post will
describe how it was created. For now, simply run it in IE 9 and another browser
that does not support hardware acceleration, and compare the speed of the
Silverlight and XNA unleashes the power of Windows Phone 7
A modern phone, while not as powerful as PC, is also considered as a smart
device. The phone is a mini computer. It allows you to do your daily tasks
almost everywhere in the world. You can use a phone to surf the web, read news,
listen to music, watch movie, chat with your friends, edit office documents...
A Windows Phone also comes with a powerful GPU. No matter if your application
is using Silverlight or XNA, you're always taking advantage of hardware
Windows Azure connects the applications and the world
The devices are powerful. But the usage is limited if the devices are
isolated. We need a cloud to connect the devices, and the world.
Let's take a look at how we develop a typical cloud solution in this modern
world. The development process involves 3 main step (I won't talk about customer
requirements, architecture, design, etc. in this post):
- Host services in the cloud.
- Distribute client applications to smart devices from the cloud.
- Connect the client applications to the cloud services.
First, we build one or more services and host them in the cloud. The services
can be accessed almost everywhere in the world, as long as you have internet
connection. (Of course you can protect the services by adopting authentication
Second, we distribute applications from the cloud to the devices. Those
applications can be HTML applications that run in a browser like IE, rich
internet applications like Silverlight, or applications that must be installed
on the client machine (like a native Windows application). The applications can
use simple UI (such as most business applications). Or they can leverage the
power of targeting devices and create a rich user experience.
Finally, we connect the client applications to the cloud services. You can
think a lot of use cases. For example, you create a multi-player game using XNA,
and you store the game data in the cloud.
The cloud wants smarter devices, such as Windows 7 PCs and Windows Phone 7.
To exploit the full power of those modern devices, you need a modern API, and
create modern applications. IE 9/Silverlight/XNA speeds up the build of modern
The next post will demonstrate a graphic rich web application powered by HTML
5 canvas. In a future post we will walk through a simple but typical cloud
solution, which demonstrates IE 9's support for SVG, Silverlight on Windows
Phone, as well as how to connect those client applications to the cloud.