While, Microsoft is busy playing catch-up, Google is determined to stay on the cutting-edge. It has launched a new open source project dubbed ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine), which will enhance Chrome’s graphics rendering capabilities.
In very simple terms, the goal of ANGLE is to permit execution of WebGL content in Windows systems by utilising DirectX 9.0. WebGL is a cross platform API which can be leveraged by web applications to serve hardware accelerated 3D graphics within the browser.
The trouble with WebGL is that it relies on the OpenGL ES 2.0 API. Once upon a time OpenGL was considered a serious competitor to DirectX. However, in the recent years it has been decimated by Microsoft’s DirectX. So much so, most Windows systems do not even have the requisite OpenGL drivers installed. ANGLE project aims to work around this problem by implementing most of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API.
WebGL is still a young technology with limited support. Microsoft isn’t even a member of the working group and hasn’t showed any inclination to support WebGL in the future. In fact, given its long conflict with OpenGL, it is doubtful if Microsoft will ever warm up to WebGL. Nevertheless, Google obviously believes that technologies like WebGL, which are important for next-gen web applications, deserve a chance. It will be interesting to see if Google really succeeds in making a difference.