Monday, May 24, 2004

Graphical Composition in Avalon

A Slashdot entry led me to this site, which has a collection of PowerPoint articles on Avalon's graphical composition system (see I, II, III and IV). The more I read about Avalon, the more it feels as if Bill Gates and company are attempting to realize my original vision of the PC as the ultimate extensible search/visualization application: put Avalon together with WinFS, and that is precisely what you have.

If the Redmond people can realize what they've set out to try to accomplish here, I have to say that Google's goose will be well and truly cooked, assuming Google intends to stick with just the web search interface. Visualization is the key to better information retrieval in the long run, as we are visually-oriented primates. Of course, I assume Brin and Page realize this much, so I expect to see some more desktop-oriented applications issuing from their firm sooner rather than later.

I'm starting to get a lot more excited about the potential of Longhorn to be a revolutionary breakthrough than I once was; if the vision is realized as currently planned, this will not be a mere OS X clone with some extra garish tweaks to it. This being Microsoft, though, I'll wait and see how the implementation matches up to the vision before I start swooning in admiration - the repeated delays in the Longhorn release schedule are a strong indicator to me that they're having serious difficulties going from the vision thing to implementation.

PS: The discussion at the end of this article between a Microsoft developer and a bunch and of commenters about the differences between Avalon and Quartz is also interesting.

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