And So It Starts Again... Avalon Community Technical Preview Released

The documentation is complete and the bits are signed off and uploaded to MSDN Subscriber Downloads. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first Community Technical Preview release of "Avalon"!

Avalon is the new graphics display subsystem that we announced at PDC, which unified documents, graphics, media and user interfaces into a single platform. Using a new vector-based compositing engine, Avalon takes full advantage of modern graphics hardware and provides the capabilities for building rich, immersive applications with 2D and 3D capabilities. Avalon also introduces XAML, a markup language that maps XML markup to objects in the .NET Framework and is built to allow designers and developers to work together in the user interface development process.

Originally a Longhorn-only feature, the Avalon team has been working over the last couple of months to additionally support current releases of the Windows operating system. The fruits of that work are now visible in the form of this preview release, which runs on Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003. You'll need .NET Framework 2.0 installed on your machine, and ideally a DirectX 9-class graphics adapter (although Avalon has a software fallback for older cards).

Where can you go to find out more about the changes in this release? Well, you could do worse than starting with the MSDN article that Karsten and I wrote. This whitepaper discusses the major changes and a number of caveats you should be aware of if you plan to start experimenting or developing with Avalon at this stage. Then check out the docs - the WinFX SDK is now available on the public MSDN site. Over the next days and weeks, I'll be posting a number of code snippets, short articles, breaking change warnings, and hints on how to get the most out of this release. We'll also be updating the Longhorn / WinFX FAQ with additional details and answers within the next few days. If there are questions you want answered, feel free to send them my way using the comments section below and I'll answer them as best as I can in a separate entry.

In the meantime, have fun with Avalon!