wasn't some rumor/legend saying that 640K ought to be enough for anybody...
I agree. The main benefit goes to Microsoft and IE - current Direct2D is built on top of Direct3D, and offers some compelling performance and visual quality improvements over GDI and GDI+ but it can be used only on Windows 7, Vista and Server 2008 - it will not help at all XP, Linux or Mac users. From Microsoft's point of view the optimal solution requires people to ugrade old XPs and buy new versions of Windows - Mainstream Support for XP ended on April 14, 2009 and Extended Support will end on April 08, 2014. Microsoft is now finally running a world wide campaign through June 2010 that'll urge users to upgrade IE6.
Direct2D was introduced about year ago with some clear goals: http://blogs.technet.com/thomasolsen/archive/2008/10/29/introducing-the-microsoft-direct2d-api.aspx
Direct2D is designed primarily for use by the following classes of developers:
* Developers of large, enterprise-scale, native applications.
* Developers who create control toolkits and libraries for consumption by downstream developers.
* Developers who require server-side rendering of 2-D graphics.
* Developers who use Direct3D graphics and need simple, high-performance 2-D and text rendering for menus, user-interface (UI) elements, and Heads-up Displays (HUDs).
Together with DirectWrite (support of it is also implemented to FF) users of Windows 7, Vista and Server 2008 will get also high-quality and soft text rendering:
Today's applications must support high-quality text rendering, resolution-independent outline fonts, and full Unicode text and layout support. DirectWrite, a new DirectX API, provides these features and more:
* A device-independent text layout system that improves text readability in documents and in UI.
* High-quality, sub-pixel, ClearType text rendering that can use GDI, Direct2D, or application-specific rendering technology.
* Hardware-accelerated text, when used with Direct2D.
* Support for multi-format text.
* Support for the advanced typography features of OpenType fonts.
* Support for the layout and rendering of text in all supported languages.
* GDI-compatible layout and rendering.
The API supports measuring, drawing, and hit-testing of multi-format text. DirectWrite handles text in all supported languages for global and localized applications, building on the key language infrastructure found in Windows 7. DirectWrite also provides a low-level glyph rendering API for developers who want to perform their own layout and Unicode-to-glyph processing.
For normal web pages the difference may be small but for such pages that use a lot of graphics, animation or advanced features of text rendering the result can be rendered 10 to 100 times faster with soft, high-quality moves. On the other hand if Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Google start creating browsers that are tied to certain versions of graphics gards or operation systems it's not at all good... and if Firefox can keep doors open to all directions it will be the number one browser forever...