updated 01:10 pm EDT, Fri April 16, 2010
OpenZDK developer platform for Zune created
For the first time, Microsoft's Zune platform has been explored to allow developers to take full advantage of the hardware specs without having to be limited by the XNA game development platform. The new SDK, dubbed OpenZDK, was built thanks to the work of several ZuneBoards members who include Itsnotabigtruck, Netrix, Nurta and the rest of the ZuneBoards Development Front. The hack can be applied to all Zune models, including the Zune HD, and doesn't require running jailbroken or otherwise hacked firmware.
Before, working with the XNA guidelines meant no capability to bring 3D imaging or Internet access and often meant a loss of performance due to the abstract layer. Now, new applications run directly on top of the Zune firmware, without the limitations of XNA coming into play.
Thus far, no apps have yet been built using OpenZDK, but it is now possible to write emulators, homebrew 3D games, port existing games, app stores and more. ZuneBoards members created a dedicated forum for the new apps.
An OpenZDK Quick Start Kit has been published for both developers and end users that includes sample programs. One of them is a 3D demo showing what hardware-accelerated hardware graphics look like. [via ZuneBoards]