Microsoft Plans Win32 API Cleanup, XAML Scripts For Next-Gen Windows

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Microsoft plans a major cleanup of Win32 API and integration of XML application markup language (XAML) to make the next version of Windows as friendly to developers as users.

First, the software giant aims to slash the number of API calls in the Win32 API set from more than 70,000 to fewer than 10,000 to help developers better exploit the next-generation Windows shell, user interface (code-named Aero) and .Net framework components in Longhorn, according to sources familiar with the Longhorn plans.

"Win32 has like 76,000 APIs, and they're taking it down to 8,000 with Longhorn technology," said one source familiar with the plans.

Microsoft is expected to release additional details about Longhorn at the Windows Hardware Engineering (WinHEC) trade show here this week.

Also in Longhorn, Microsoft plans to integrate a replacement for the Windows graphics device interface (GDI), code-named Avalon, that replaces the need to do manual coding with prebuilt, extensible XAML scripts. That means developers wouldn't have to access many APIs directly and instead can modify XAML scripts, sources said.

The Windows GDI currently interacts with device drivers on behalf of Windows applications. The next-generation XAML has new metatags and extensible schemas for user-interface structures and behaviors that are designed to simplify and increase the customization of the "jazzed up and 3-D oriented Longhorn GUI, code-named Aero," sources said.

"It's hard to use the shell now for an application," said another source familiar with the Longhorn plans. "Anything a shell can do, an application can do. So now a Windows application can inherit the behavior of the operating system with zero lines of code."

In addition to the XAML engine, Microsoft plans to integrate an XAML visual designer in the next release of Visual Studio. Net, code-named Whidbey. The company also is slated to ship a Longhorn software developer kit (SDK) that consists of out-of-the-box UI components and behaviors. Microsoft said the new Longhorn SDK will combine the once-separate tools, kits and technical content to enable end-to-end Windows client development.

Microsoft executives are expected to detail a number of developer improvements planned for the next major Windows upgrade at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in New Orleans this week.

For example, on Tuesday, Microsoft is expected to launch Microsoft Windows Hardware and Driver Central--a Web portal for developers--and plans for the first Windows Driver Developer Conference in November. And this week, Microsoft also plans to unveil better synergies between Windows Longhorn and processors and peripherals. For example, the 3-D-capable Aero interface in Longhorn is slated to be fine-tuned to better exploit the unused processing power available on Intel Pentium 4-based PC desktops. Microsoft also is expected to introduce a more consistent user experience as part of its Xeel demonstration at the launch.

The technical beta for Longhorn is due to be launched at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference this fall.

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