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Microsoft Windows Build

Microsoft Reveals Its 3D Printing Strategy For Windows 8.1 103

Posted by timothy
from the chip-on-shoulder-view-of-the-world dept.
colinneagle writes "At the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, Microsoft senior product manager Jesse McGatha discussed why Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8.1 will support 3D printing, even giving a demo of a sample app for printing a design file. But in the presentation it became clear that Microsoft is capitalizing on the recent hype of 3D printing and positioning itself to capitalize on the future consumer markets for 3D printing. However, a Gartner analyst recently warned that 3D printing may not become the household consumer item that some are making it out to be. So, by capitalizing on the buzz, Microsoft may attract makers, innovators, and even enterprise customers that use 3D printing, but avoids any risk if the consumer market fails to reach its potential."
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Microsoft Reveals Its 3D Printing Strategy For Windows 8.1

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  • Or is it some of the same strategy which is leading up to it - sticking their nose in everyone else's market where they have no core competency?

    • no core competency

      Like devices & services?

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I think a core failing of Microsoft is that they don't how competent or incompetent they really are. They think they are full of geniuses when more often than not they're full of average people just fumbling along without a clue like everyone else. Instead of looking at a new technology and thinking that they need to learn and understand it, they will charge ahead full steam and assume that because they are Microsoft they will of course become the experts. This prevents them from focusing on areas where

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:17AM (#44249445)
    I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.
    • by cnettel (836611) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:27AM (#44249511)

      DOS supported printing, in the sense that you could interface to a printer through LPT1. The way in which Apple and Microsoft worked towards abstracting the process of printing was a quite different thing. This could be a 3rd party library, but the point is that there is some brokering beyond the specific API, software, and specifications released by individual manufacturers.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        pretty much individual manufacturers have released either something that takes in a .stl file or the bots themselves consume a script called gcode - all usually slightly differently, of course.

        previewing the stl files makes things easier of course I suppose..

        problem is that with current machines there's not all that much dumbing down to be done - the downfall of some "prosumer" products like the stratasys mojo is that they're already too dumbed down(though that one is on purpose to use more properiaty filam

        • by Applekid (993327)

          pretty much individual manufacturers have released either something that takes in a .stl file or the bots themselves consume a script called gcode - all usually slightly differently, of course.

          previewing the stl files makes things easier of course I suppose..

          problem is that with current machines there's not all that much dumbing down to be done - the downfall of some "prosumer" products like the stratasys mojo is that they're already too dumbed down(though that one is on purpose to use more properiaty filament) - being able to tweak fill patterns and such makes hell of a difference to the prints, and for example for repraps there's already a bunch of sw that let you load the stl, lay it on the build plate, slice it(lingo for turning it into the head movements for the machine), review that slicing and print all from one app.

          so I'm a 3d printer hobbyist.. and really what it 8.1 probably brings to the table is just more included drivers for the serial port bridges used to connect almost all 3d printers.

          Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

          Embrace: wrap the serial port bridge.
          Extend: built-in geometry slicer with some tweakable knobs, analogous to the built-in rasterization Windows already supports
          Extinguish: future 3d printer consortium, printers can either be Microsoft driver compatible or not, but steps will be taken to make it hard for someone using a non-blessed device on Windows.

      • Here is how to send a file to be cut on an old Roland Modela MDX3 CNC machine:
        C:\>copy design.rol lpt1

        Sometimes older technology is more simple.

        • by ajlitt (19055)

          And here is how to send a file to a 3D printer that speaks gcode:

          C:\> mode com1: baud=115200
          C:\> copy foo.gcode com1

          • Which board/firmware doesn't require a specialized program to receive the gcode? From what I've read most seem to require a program because some computers have serial ports problems or something.

            • by ajlitt (19055)

              Some firmware lets you use the nonstandard 250000 baud rate. On Linux, 250000 is supported by newer kernels but requires some libraries be updated (pyserial for Pronterface and Octoprint). The reason that's chosen is because it divides down with no clock error to the CPU clocks used on some of the AVRs used for RepRaps.

              This isn't a problem if you use 115200.

              Is that what you were thinking of?

              • I was talking about grbl's problem with the lack of FTDI chip on recent Arduinos causing XON/XOFF flow control problems [github.com].

                Do you have a suggestion for a firmware to use on a desktop CNC, apart from grbl?

                • by ajlitt (19055)

                  Now that I think about it, that's true, there is no hardware flow control for RepRap firmware. Sorry, forgot about that. Every command is responded to with "ok" if it's been accepted into the buffer. If there's no room, the "ok" is delayed until the buffer has space. So maybe "copy file com1:" might not work well, but a very simple expect script could do the job.

                  • Is there a good firmware with LCD and SD card support that doesn't require an Arduino and shields and is DIY-friendly?

                    I only need the SD card reading, LCD-display, gcode-to-step/dir-pulses part, I just want to make a headless TB6560 [www.ebay.ca]-driven CNC.

                    A few people have suggested using one ATmega328P with grbl and another ATmega328P for reading the SD card, driving the LCD and reading the joystick+buttons.

      • The way in which Apple and Microsoft worked towards abstracting the process of printing was a quite different thing.

        And a poorly executing thing, at that. I mean, really, printing is still a mess. What makes Microsoft think they can handle 3D printing?

      • by westlake (615356)

        DOS supported printing, in the sense that you could interface to a printer through LPT1. The way in which Apple and Microsoft worked towards abstracting the process of printing was a quite different thing.

        --- and a thing which helped to kill Word Perfect.

        The premier DOS era word processor which --- at no small expense --- shipped with custom drivers for damn near every printer known to man.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.

      Well, duh, but by sticking their toe into it they enable themselves to come up with their own protocols, languages, interfaces, in short, circumvent all the development in 3D printing up to this point and attempt to make it their own.

      As for the re-org, I see it's on [nytimes.com].

      I wonder what new division label Steve will assign this group - Co-opting Industry Standards And Setting Them Back 10 Years

      • It's amazing how Slashdot commenter can twist the creation of a standard API for 3D printing, like the one for regular 2D printing, into something bad.

        At least be consistent and ask for the return of the "good ol' DOS days" where every application needed its own set of drivers to interface with anything beyond BIOS text mode.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.

      do you know what OS you have to boot to special mode to install drivers for almost any 3d printer - makerbots included? Windows 8. I guess the main thing is that they've included arduino drivers with the os...

      (the reason is that the arduino/custom arduino serial drivers are rarely signed..)

      • You can disable that. For 99% of users, requiring extra work to install non-signed drivers is a very good thing.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          You can disable that. For 99% of users, requiring extra work to install non-signed drivers is a very good thing.

          that's what I said. fyi, it's a special boot param and it doesn't stay disabled. the drivers stay installed though.

          why is it a very good thing? instead of having something barely working you'll have something not working at all. it's fucking stupid. it wouldn't be too bad if you didn't need to do a full boot to install them.. I mean, how many times have you actually had to do support for someone who had installed unsigned drivers and the cause was that they were unsigned? signed drivers are no silver bullet

          • I'm pretty sure there's a way to disable it long-term, but I'll turst your expertise in the matter.

            As for requiring signed drivers, it's meant to help avoid malware and very buggy drivers. Don't underestimate what a bad driver can do to the NT kernel, even with all the recent advances since Vista (Hell, a crashed graphics driver no longer crashes the OS in most cases - it happened all the time in XP)

      • I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.

        do you know what OS you have to boot to special mode to install drivers for almost any 3d printer - makerbots included? Windows 8. I guess the main thing is that they've included arduino drivers with the os...

        (the reason is that the arduino/custom arduino serial drivers are rarely signed..)

        Or you could sign your fucking drivers.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.

          do you know what OS you have to boot to special mode to install drivers for almost any 3d printer - makerbots included? Windows 8. I guess the main thing is that they've included arduino drivers with the os...

          (the reason is that the arduino/custom arduino serial drivers are rarely signed..)

          Or you could sign your fucking drivers.

          well yeah, I would have expected makerbot to have done so... before I actually bought mine. after seeing how it's hacked together (especially sw) not so much.

    • Well the trick is to come up with some sort of standard API, to Print 3d.

      Back in the DOS days, when you needed to print more than just text, every program had a list of printers to choose from, I had a Panasonic Dot Matrix which was Epson Compatible so I chose Epson Printers. If I had one of those new fangled Laser Printers that use PCL or PostScript some of my apps wouldn't print.

      Now with windows as the OS you choose your printer and install, or select the driver to use. Than when you tell your program t

      • by dkf (304284)

        Now the standard Printing API is designed for 2d. While for some 3d printers you can translate the page break into a go up level, but not all 3d Printers work the same, so you will want an API that takes a 3d diagram then send that to the drivers to figure out how to do it. So you can take many 3d applications and print 3d stuff from it without needing your app to be particular to the 3d printer you are using.

        The fascinating thing is that the material you print with makes a very big difference to how you do the printing. While most people doing 3D printing are using something like ABS, that's not really all that robust; switching to nylon gets you a much stronger result. However, using nylon (hint: the very cheapest weed whacker nylon works well, but the expensive stuff doesn't because of all the added silica) means that the print head has to run a bit hotter and the material has different physical properties. A

        • by Applekid (993327)

          Now the standard Printing API is designed for 2d. While for some 3d printers you can translate the page break into a go up level, but not all 3d Printers work the same, so you will want an API that takes a 3d diagram then send that to the drivers to figure out how to do it. So you can take many 3d applications and print 3d stuff from it without needing your app to be particular to the 3d printer you are using.

          The fascinating thing is that the material you print with makes a very big difference to how you do the printing. While most people doing 3D printing are using something like ABS, that's not really all that robust; switching to nylon gets you a much stronger result. However, using nylon (hint: the very cheapest weed whacker nylon works well, but the expensive stuff doesn't because of all the added silica) means that the print head has to run a bit hotter and the material has different physical properties. AIUI, a pattern that works well for one print material does not for another; I shudder to think what a multi-material print would be like!

          You also need error correction in the drivers if you're going to do a large print...

          I would expect a future 3D printer to be able to report what materials are loaded and available to the driver so the driver can then slice the 3d object (slice:3d::rasterization:2d) with the appropriate settings. The end user won't have to know what hardware-level things actually change, they'll just get their widget.

      • by robmv (855035)

        And the dumb printer problems will happen again. We have printers that understand documented protocols like PS and PCL, and we have the ones that need rasterization using the host CPU. The final result is a lot of crappy 3D printers that will work only with Windows, and a specific version of it, because manufacturers will refuse to update the driver, so you are forced to buy a new one for Windows 9. Publish the damn printer language documentation instead.

        This make me remember how my uncle scans with and old

    • You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant.

      I can't believe how many people around here don't understand the role of the printer driver system in modern operating systems. In the old days each program had their own printer drivers. For example, printer manufactures all had to make drivers for the main applications like WordPerfect. For the rest of the lesser known apps, they would have to have their printers emulate more popular printers so that the other and hope the other programs were well written. Often it would turn out to be a mess.

      Then along c

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      I'm confused. Everything supports 3D printing. There's probably a Linux application for it. You just have the company write a driver, install 3D software that works with it, and hit print. The operating system is irrelevant. All they're doing is putting a big "sue me, I have the most money" sign on them with a picture of a 3D printed gun under it. Now they're just getting desperate. I thought 8.1 was a rush fix like Windows 7 from Vista but nope. Hopefully THIS TIME heads will roll and they'll replace clueless morons with reasonable design leads at MS.

      As the summary says, Microsoft is trying to get in on the hype of 3D printing. Besides, if they claim it has this "new" feature, maybe they hope people won't realize it is just a service pack.

    • by rijrunner (263757)

      Well, one of the big things is integration of the whole environment. End-to-end operations designed for end users is a bit sketchy these days.

      You have to understand that Microsoft does have a rather significant edge with 8.1. My guess, if I were designing this, I would put hooks in this so that it talks to the app store. From there, they could easily extend this to sell designs. You go out to the app store, buy a design for 99 cents, then it will print it out.

  • Not to worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:25AM (#44249497)

    Microsoft won't kill this dead before it ever gets out of the gate by making sure that your printers checks with a central database for against anything that could be patent infringing. However, in the event that something could be patent infringing they will offer a service in which they will offer you an immediate license to print your part. Since you license is a legal contract it must be tied to your Microsoft account which will require all of your personal information including you credit card information.

    In exchange for Microsoft providing the very valuable service of ensuring that you don't violate someones patent in the privacy of your own home they will extract a 30% royalty of any transaction. The thing store will track all of your purchases in order to make it easier for you (and anyone else) to know what your printing or browsing. They can then offer you "valuable" offers from marketing partners on similar services.

    Therefore you can now say it is possible to be financially screwed by Microsoft while making a Microsoft approved screw while screwed by their marketing partners all in the privacy of your own home all while your not getting screwed!

    /screwed. I'm claiming patent to this process and donating it to the EFF if it's not already patented dammit.

  • Sounds like a sound marketing move by MS that also provides some capability to the OS via builtin drivers (avoiding the mess of hundreds or thousands of bad drivers from years past). Why is this news here?
  • A company that exists solely to make profit is trying to "capitalize" on something!

    "But in the presentation it became clear that Microsoft is capitalizing on the recent hype of 3D printing and positioning itself to capitalize on the future consumer markets for 3D printing."

  • 3D printers aren't quite in the realms of household consumer items yet. Not at several thousand Dollars a pop for the hardware, let's not go there with supplies of printing substrate...

    • They will be niche household items soon enough. Besides, whoever uses them now will surely appreciate fewer hassles when printing. As will software developers who can target a single API and printer manufacturers who also only have to target that single API.

      Standardization is a good thing, but since it's Microsoft, at lot of people here like to disagree.

    • by wmac1 (2478314)

      Color laser printers were several thousands of dollars few years ago. A cheap 3D printer is around $1200 now. I therefore think 3D printers will soon be consumer devices.

      • by ajlitt (19055)

        You can throw any bitmap at any color laser printer, and it should print it.

        Take any 3D model and send it to a 3D printer and you'll likely get a blob of goo if the toolchain doesn't choke on the model first.

        Mapping a 2D image to a 2D surface is easy. Taking an arbitrary mesh and turning it into instructions to manufacture a mechanically sound object is hard.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      several thousand Dollars a pop for the hardware

      I remember when computers were several thousand dollars a pop for the hardware, and that was before adjusting for inflation.

      That said, 3d printing just doesn't have the same kind of selling power that some other big ticket household items have. It's not the price holding it back, it's just not something everyone needs.

  • by nosfucious (157958) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:37AM (#44249641)

    Specifically crapware loaded install programs.

    99.9% of the time, I just want the drivers. ONLY the drivers.

    OK, hardly MS fault, the blame being with the manufacturers, but they should inist that the driver can be easily extracted and uploaded to a Windows print server. Without jumping multiple hoops.

    And the drivers should be happy to work when your system default is A4 paper. Rather than trying to insist on going (back) to Letter. Or happily resetting print preferences from time to time (like not accepting a static host name, rather than IP address for a port)., etc, etc.

    Urge to kill .... rising ....

    • And the drivers should be happy to work when your system default is A4 paper. Rather than trying to insist on going (back) to Letter.

      What? You think there is a world outside North America? Which planet are you from?

    • 2D printers are the Devil's gift to computing. So useful, yet so fiendishly evil, failing at the worst opportunity for no reason and making you jump through hoops to start using them.

      Microsoft supposedly started pressuring printer manufacturers to provide simpler, more universal drivers for Windows 8. The only thing in recent memory that Windows couldn't automagically find drivers for (besides my fingerprint reader) was a printer.

  • Will this cause my home-printed Liberator to BSOD?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't wait to restart the spooler service because my 3-D print queue is hung.

    • my 3-D print queue is hung.

      Hey, this is a family website!

    • by ebh (116526)

      If you've got a dual-head printer, you many need to restart two spoolers.

    • by ajlitt (19055)

      Once I lost a 7 hour 3D print job because Win7 decided that it was ok to reboot to install patches if I haven't been in front of the computer for 15 minutes. That was the end of my brief reunion with Windows on my personal machines.

  • by Lispy (136512) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:13AM (#44250135) Homepage

    They will also be the first to inplement DRM and prevent you on printing "copyrighted" or "unwanted" stuff...

  • Welcome to the new Win3DPrinters, with drivers that only work on Windows and manufacturers refuse to update them for new OS versions, forcing you to buy a new one

  • I love my reprap prusa i3, but it and other 3d printers including the makerbot require constant tuning, leveling, tightening, etc to print anything of quality. The base consumer market just does not have the skills or patience to learn for what available now
  • I'm not really understanding the hate for this feature. From what I've heard this feature like a new dialog optimized for 3D printing. Just like when you press Control+P on almost any text app and the print dialog pops up with basic, de-facto standard options as well as a more advance menu based on the drivers of each printer. But instead of printing a 2D document it prints a 3D object. If this is the case then why all the hate?
    At work, whenever I what to print anything, I have to save my work as a STL fil
  • At Microsoft they forgot to capitalize also on all other hypes: green economy, emerging markets, new moon race and possibly more.
    Well, if only they could also capitalize on sales ...
  • by lxs (131946)

    No integrated Bitcoin support yet?

  • ... wondering just what would most home users be using a 3-D printer for anyway? Will your vacuum cleaner come with a CD containing the printer files to allow you to make your own spare parts? What you wind up making using an inexpensive home 3-D printer probably wouldn't hold up under use anyway making it more likely that the local vacuum cleaner repair guy will have a higher quality 3-D printer (and the business deduction to afford it) and will be the person who really takes advantage of 3-D. Then ease of

    • by EvilSS (557649)
      I've been asking the same question lately. A colleague was looking at getting one and when I asked him why, he really couldn't answer. I don't see a killer use case for consumers for these yet. Not saying there isn't one but if there is I wish someone would clue me in.

      Now, if someone would come out with a desktop 3D CNC mill for $1200 I'm in!
    • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529 AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:08PM (#44252459)

      ...I seriously doubt the home market for 3-D beyond cheap plastic birthday party trinkets is going to take off any time soon.

      You then underestimate the potential market for cheap plastic birthday party trinkets.
      There's already a company [cricut.com] making a fortune off a paper cutter, because they've learned how to correctly market it to the craft maker segment. The cutter is $200 or so, then you have the rest of the ecosystem: the mats, the different cutting blades, and the patterns. How much does all this crap go for? Usually the pattern cartridges cost some $30 a pop,give or take. Go to your local craft store, they will have a huge section full of them. My aunt loves all this stamp and calligraphy stuff, but any slashdotter who believes they have the patience of Gandhi can swing by any day and teach my aunt how to do 'conventional' vector illustration and how to generate an EPS and then send it to a professional-grade paper cutter. It's at best impractical, and certainly wouldn't achieve a critical mass.

      However, if there's a company out there that can make a mint off an ecosystem designed to make patterns on paper, you can't possibly convince me that there's no market to do the same out of plastic, if not a bigger one - ever been to a hobby store and seen all the plastic models that can be built? Now you've got the bored housewives' craft market and the nerds' model building market, and yes - a DIY-spare-parts market for certain things where such pieces could be made out of the correct plastic effectively.

      As a blank slate that requires the 3D version of PostScript written in LaTeX? yeah, not much of a market. As a machine that allows birthday trinkets with a point-and-click iPad interface? someone's gonna get rich off that.

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