Business, Graphics, Software Programs

nVidia abandons custom 3D UI, plans to open it as an SDK


When nVidia first showed Tegra products, most of the attention the company received wasn’t for their hardware but rather 3D user interface that made Windows Mobile and Apple’s Mac OS look ridiculous. The interface didn’t have advantages due to its looks but also the way how we operated the user interface, with left-right being enhanced by up-down in the 3D carousel.

nVidia's 3D interface that wasn't meant to be...
nVidia’s 3D interface that wasn’t meant to be… 

Last time we spoke about the interface during the GPU Technology Conference, nVidia talked about expanding and moving away from focusing on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system due to the fact that Microsoft is constantly pushing back the release of Windows Mobile 7. Even then, we knew something was wrong with Microsoft’s operating system as nVidia was openly pushing for Google Android OS in all supported platforms, including netbooks and smartbooks. Back in the day, ATI was the strategic partner in development of WM6 and WM6.5 with aggressive plans for WM7 but that operating system is suffering from constant delays. During the last few years, WM7 got pushed from 2009 to 2010 and on the show floor – we heard 2011 as the launch date.

Given that the development of nVidia’s multi-touch friendly, 3D user inferface was heavily reliant on Windows Mobile, we pondered what will happen with the development of maybe the best 3D UI on the market. Unfortunately, during CES – we learned that nVidia decided to abandon the development due to difficulties in implementing that user interface across platforms. One of the key roadblocks was the fact that nVidia used bitmap files for fonts and while there were no issues in U.S. English, the company needed to work on each and every word in alternative languages – such as Spanish, French, German etc.  

In the case of Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7, there were several severe incompatibilities. However, the development is not completely dead, as the company plans to open up their research and offer a free SDK for registered developers. Who knows, we might see that 3D UI coming to market in some shape or form. One can only hope, as the demonstrated videos on YouTube and different conferences made plain Vanilla Windows Mobile, iPhone’s OS or even Symbian – look like remnants of the 20th Century.