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Windows Blue hides 4K display support, tons of new features, developer says

Mark Hachman | May 27, 2013
For all the controversy surrounding Windows 8, it's a solid OS under the hood. And based on a list of API clues discovered by a former Nokia and Silverlight developer, it should only get better with the Windows Blue update.

For all the controversy surrounding Windows 8, it's a solid OS under the hood. And based on a list of API clues discovered by a former Nokia and Silverlight developer, it should only get better with the Windows Blue update.

Based on an extensive examination of the software APIs found within Windows Blue (now offically called Windows 8.1 by Microsoft), developer Justin Angel compiled a lengthy list of more than 25 features that he says will be included in the updated OS: the possibility of ultra-HD "4K" screen support, lock-screen calls, HDR photo support, better multi-screen formatting, and much more. 

Angel teased out the new features by examining the APIs he found in the leaked build of Windows 8.1 (version 9385), which appeared online at the beginning of May. Other Microsoft watchers have installed and played around with the leaked OS—Paul Thurrott published a thorough examination of its forward-facing features—but Angel's API deep-dive reveals even more hidden secrets.

Microsoft representatives declined to comment on what they called rumors and speculation. Angel is no stranger to diving deep into Microsoft products. Last December, he made news when he discovered a method to pirate Windows Store downloads by turning trial versions into full-version apps.

Assuming Angel's latest findings bear out, the new APIs reveal a number of undisclosed capabilities in Windows 8.1, which is expected to be officially unveiled at Microsoft's BUILD conference in San Francisco. The developer release, expected on June 26, will include changes based on customer feedback, including the possible return of the Start button from Windows 7 (though Angel's API analysis doesn't confirm that detail).

It should be noted that Angel confined his examination to Windows 8.1 RT, and not the more conventional Windows 8.1. Windows RT, of course, hasn't had the warmest of welcomes.

The sexy stuff: cameras, resolutions, and lock screens
Microsoft has already said that it will support high-resolution screens with Windows 8, to the point that Windows hardware could support screen resolutions exceeding the "retina" displays found in Macintosh products. Angel's investigation would seem to confirm this, finding support for 225 percent scaling, far exceeding the 180 percent scaling found in Windows 8. In essence, pixel densities for Windows hardware could jump from 240 DPI to 300 DPI.

"It's possible we'll see Win8.1 WinRT tablets sporting screens with much higher DPI then Apple's retina even going all the way up to '4k' resolution," Angel wrote on his blog, justinangel.net.

And if developers want that content projected on a second screen, with a different view, they can do so via the new ProjectionManager class.

"Imagine watching a video on your Win8 Atom-based tablet and plugging it into your TV," Angel wrote. "The tablet could duplicate the content on the TV, but it can't choose to show one view for the TV and another view for the tablet screen. That for example is the experience for the Netflix iPad app. In Windows 8 Metro apps were spectacularly single screened and only had one single active view. It seems that in Windows 8.1 developers can opt-in to create additional alternate views for projection displays."

 

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