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08 March 2012, 11:35

Wine 1.4 sports a redesigned audio stack, improved graphics rendering

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The Wine team has announced version 1.4 of its Windows application compatibility layer for Linux and Mac OS X systems. Wine 1.4 is the first major stable update since the release of Wine 1.2 almost two years ago. Highlights of the new version include a reworked audio stack and a new Device Independent Bitmaps (DIB) graphics engine. Overall, there have been over 16,000 changes in the code base since the last release.

The new DIB graphics engine eliminates X server rendering overhead and should noticeably improve performance in running DIB-intensive applications. It can also be used as a fallback for other rendering types if the graphic driver used doesn't support them. A redesigned audio stack (based on the model used in Windows Vista) can now use the GStreamer framework on Linux and thus supports all audio formats that work with GStreamer. On Mac OS X, Wine interfaces with QuickTime for this purpose. Additionally, Wine now fully supports animated mouse cursors, a feature that many users who use it to run Windows games have been requesting for a long time, and the new version also adds a joystick mapping dialog.

Other changes include improved internationalisation, including support for vertical fonts, the addition of Vista-style file dialogs, better implementation of the Windows system tray and much more. Wine's built-in Gecko-based browser has been updated to use the engine from Firefox 8 and now supports ActiveX. It is now also available on 64-bit systems. Furthermore, the developers have implemented better support for service pack installers like the ones used to ship .NET updates for Windows systems. All of these changes should improve the integration between the Windows applications running in Wine and the underlying UNIX-style desktop.

Most of these changes are already available in CodeWeaver's commercial Wine-based CrossOver XI product which was released a few days ago and combines the older CrossOver Office and CrossOver Games products in one application.

Wine can be downloaded for every major Linux distribution, several BSD variants, Solaris, OpenSolaris and Maemo. Instructions for installing on Mac OS X are also available. The software is licensed under LGPL 2.1 or later.

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