Microsoft has finally released DirectX 9 to the public. New features are
- High Level Shading Language (HLSL) support
- A Shader Debugger that integrates with Visual Studio.
- Pixel/Vertex shaders version 2.0/2.0+ (for the latest hardware)
- Pixel/Vertex shaders version 3.0 (a specification for the next generation hardware to support)
- Floating point support for z-buffers, pixel formats, and texture formats.
- DirectShow’s Video Mixing Renderer9 (VMR9) for faster video playback & features
- DirectSound has improved effects and lower-latency.
- DirectMusic has some new features and a updated authoring tool.
- New AppWizards for DirectX in VS.Net
- Managed DirectX
Speculation is that this will be the last drop for a while. The next MS Desktop-OS release (Longhorn) will be/is closely tied to DirectX. I’ve heard that DirectX9.1 will be released mid/late next year to sometime in 2004. I’ve also heard that there’ll be various point releases as new hardware vendors release DX9 flavored hardware so MS will be doing point releases as they become necessary to keep DX9 “fresh” until the DX10/Longhorn release. This is all rumor at this point. The interesting thing is that Longhorn is supposed to take advantage of the GPU just like a graphics program should, that 3D will become part of the desktop. The Longhorn screenshots I’ve seen aren’t that impressive. I worked at Xerox PARC for a while and the stuff they had in 1996 was way cooler. Let’s not waste 3D computing power on visual gewgaws.