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Getting Great Graphics

Your computer's display is what you look at all day long, so you need to be comfortable with what you see. This is especially important for multimedia applications. To get the most out of these titles, you need graphics hardware that can handle the blizzard of data produced by the bitmaps, videos, and animations that are de rigueur in modern multimedia. Mainstream business applications also can benefit from a strong graphics system. After all, Windows 98 is a graphical operating system, so even day-to-day chores can create quite a graphics workload.

If you upgraded from Windows 3.x, you will notice an immediate graphics speed boost. Microsoft revamped the graphics subsystem to provide greater performance as well as enhanced reliability. For one thing, some of the data structures used by the graphics device interface (GDI) were converted to 32-bit, thus making better use of system resources. Also, the GDI gained a new engine for controlling output to the screen. It's called the Device Independent Bitmap (DIB) engine, and it includes 32-bit code that takes advantage of features found in 386-and-higher processors to generate highly optimized generic drawing routines for everything from lowly 4-bit graphics devices to 24-bit powerhouses. Microsoft claims that this new engine can almost double the performance of even unaccelerated graphics adapters.


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