I'm in Seattle at the Microsoft Audio Summit. The Microsoft Digital Media division has organized a summit for the audio community to provide an in-depth review of the audio architecture in the next version of the Windows Operating System. This is very first audio summit Microsoft organized to focus on development in the audio world. Vista will have completely overhauled audio, from the low-level kernel guts to the user interface
Several days of workshops, demos, labs, networking and opportunity to talk directly with Microsoft Audio professionals. Lots of Q & A too throughout the sessions. There are about 80 audio professionals at the event from many of the major companies who were invited including Cakewalk, MakeMusic, Sibelius, Steinberg, Waves, SONY, Creative Labs, Line6, MOTU, Mackie, Propellerheads, Yamaha, Universal Audio and many other leading audio companies. Tom Hopkins and Jeff Hurchalla are here representing the Garritan team.
Last night there was a reception where we had a chance to grab a drink, meet and chat with some of the attendees. This morning Jim Allchin, Co-President of Microsoft Platform Products and Services, opened the Summit and with a Keynote session providing an overview of Vista. This was followed by a presentation of Vista audio by Pat Azzarello and Eric Schmidt. They talked about how Vista simplifies and improves audio over XP. Elliot Omiya then talked about User Mode Audiothe new audio system in Vista.
We enjoyed lunch with Steve Ball, Group Program Manager of Windows Audio. We discussed DRM, sampling and various other topics. After lunch there was a session on hardware initiatives followed by a session on Vista Development Tools and then a talk by Eric Schmidt about Partner Development.
It was nice to get a glimpse of the new Vista interface throughout the sessions. Since many work in the Window environment for long periods of time, it is nice to have a new spiffy user interface. Vista will offer some nice visual effects into the OS such as transparent windows, 3D rendering and animation that makes the work environment not only look cool but enhance functionality.
From the various sessions there are salient features I gleaned regarding audio in Vista:
Glitch-Resilient Audio - Vista provides better audio stability and manages audio in much more efficient ways. Audio app crashes and blue screens may be a thing of the past. The kernel of the Vista OS has been rewritten in order to prevent a software problem with drivers from bringing down the whole system.
Arif from Microsoft gave a demo comparing XP to Vista, stressing the CPU with maximum loads and trying to bring both to their knees. XP crashed early on but Vista kept going and going and going...and no glitching during the stress test. Very impressive.
Prioritization of Audio - The entire OS has a priority structure so that you can specify what apps get priority. You can prioritize audio to make sure any other program (like a virus program or AIM) doesn't get in the way and cause a glitch.
Per Application Volume Control - Vista has a new audio control panel that allows separate volume control per application. Did you ever get that sudden instant-messaging soundblast that's ten times louder than your other sounds? This won't happen in Vista and this feature is a welcome addition.
Improved Audio Performance -There are various other audio enhancements in Vista such as:
Better memory management & CPU performance
Support for up to 144 dB signal to noise ratio
16bit integer to 32 floating point to improve audio fidelity.
And 64-bit version of Vista that will make 64-bit computing a reality under windows.
This is only a very brief overview. There's lots more to get excited about with the next operating system from Microsoft. There were many technical aspects and under-the-hood features discussed. I'm glad Jeff came along to understand many of the finer technical infrastrstructure aspects of Vista audio.
Later tonight there is a swanky evening event at the Triple Door club. We'll be eating, gabbing, drinking and grooving to the music of a Seattle band called "Lushy". I'll try to avoid getting too 'lushy' tonight.
Tomorrow is another full day at the Summit. Also tomorrow evening will be the Northern Sounds/GPO Forum get-together at the Pike Place Brewery followed by our presentation at the Seattle Composer Alliance/Hummie Mann Film Scoring Program. Friday I'll be at the Microsoft campus at Redmond all day for some meetings.
Many thanks to Pat Azzarella, Eric Schnmidt, Steve Ball, Jim Allchin, Arik, Elliot and the rest of the Microsoft audio team for making this successful summit possible.
Wow, Gary.. thanks for posting this. I didn't even realize MS was paying attention to the audio geek crowd Sweet!
I plan on getting WinV Ultimate, probably. I gotta have the Remote Desktop option, and a few other "advanced" options.
I like WinXP Pro a lot.. it works pretty nicely for me on my rig, but WinV just looks too cool. The only reason I'd NOT upgrade to WinV is if that whole DRM and "trusted computing" thing winds up being messy and interfering with my day to day tasks.
The only reason I'd NOT upgrade to WinV is if that whole DRM and "trusted computing" thing winds up being messy and interfering with my day to day tasks.
That's been my concern as well. What happens when MS and Apple get into a p!ssing contest over iTunes vs the various competing MP3 services, and I'm trying to create files for both platforms on the same computer. It could get messy.
------- It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...