Microsoft Ships Final Release of DirectX 6.0

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 7, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced shipment of the final version of the Microsoft® DirectX® 6.0 Software Development Kit, delivered to developers in time for them to utilize its features in games for the 1998 holiday season.

A mature set of Windows® -based system services, DirectX now provides a single development platform that transparently supports all consumer graphics, audio and input devices and provides faster performance, increased stability and compatibility with today’s multimedia and gaming hardware add-ons. In addition, DirectX 6.0 APIs reduce development time by giving developers access to specialized hardware features without their having to write hardware-specific code. DirectX enables the best multimedia experience on all Windows platforms, making Windows a leading platform for multimedia innovation.

“With DirectX 6.0, Microsoft delivers on its promise to make Windows the best platform for the most innovative multimedia,”
said Kevin Bachus, product manager of DirectX at Microsoft.
“Consumers will reap the benefits of DirectX 6.0 in the new and enhanced products that developers will deliver in the upcoming holiday season.”

DirectX 6.0 Boosts Multimedia Performance for Windows Platforms

Now integrated into Windows 98 and upcoming Windows NT® 5.0 operating systems, DirectX offers better graphics, faster frame rates and enhanced playability. Users can enjoy DVD playback, better audio capabilities, multimonitor support and Universal Serial Bus (USB) for true Plug and Play for joysticks, speakers, keyboards, pointing devices and scanners.

Developers using DirectX 6.0 gain a single set of DirectX APIs for Windows 98, Windows NT 5.0 and Windows 95, making it easier for them to develop for multiple Windows platforms. DirectX 6.0 is also backward-compatible, so applications developed for DirectX 5.0 or earlier versions of the technology will run without compatibility issues.

New DirectMusic, Improved Direct3D Lead DirectX 6.0 Enhancements

DirectX 6.0 includes a broad range of enhancements led by the addition of the new DirectMusic
™API and by improvements to the Direct3D® API.

  • DirectMusic is a new API set that delivers superior music to the Windows platform. It features the following:

  • Better MIDI sequencing for higher-quality playback

  • Support for the MIDI Manufacturers Association’s DownLoadable Sounds (DLS) standards, which let developers add customized instruments to the latest sound cards

  • A high-quality, low-overhead software synthesizer

  • Interactive music composition, which allows a player to make music playback more intense, more dramatic or more exciting in real time

DirectMusic will ship to end users in the fall as part of an update to DirectX 6.0 and is supported today in the DirectX 6.0 Software Development Kit so developers can enable support for DirectMusic in forthcoming titles.

  • Direct3D includes several new, enhanced features, including the following:

  • Significantly faster performance thanks to overall improvements to the run-time components in Direct3D

  • A completely rewritten geometry engine, which is responsible for transform and lighting operations and includes processor-specific optimizations that take advantage of features in the latest generation of CPUs

  • All-new software rasterizers, which enable developers to compare the visual quality of output on 3-D hardware accelerators to a reference standard

  • Support for many new hardware features, including single-pass multitexturing, bump mapping, texture compression, stencil buffers, w-buffers and much more

“The installed base of 3-D-enabled computers will exceed 100 million by year end. DirectX 6.0 is a significant development that will enable the 3-D display capabilities and improve performance of those computers,”
said Jon Peddie, president of Tiburon, Calif.-based Jon Peddie Associates, a leading multimedia consulting firm.
“This type of improvement is what consumers and suppliers have been asking for. By increasing the power and multimedia capability, the market will be opened up, enabling suppliers to reach the broadest audience of consumers. That translates into a win-win situation for the industry and its customers.”

Microsoft has also delivered many other enhancements to the DirectX API suite, including faster performance in the DirectDraw® and DirectSound® APIs and new lobbying services and support for firewalls in the DirectPlay® API.

Meltdown ’98 Event Expands on Major Momentum for DirectX

In addition to Microsoft’s internal compatibility and performance testing process, DirectX 6.0 has been subjected to rigorous testing by the industry, including the semiannual Meltdown event, an intense week of testing, debugging and information sharing about DirectX. More than 600 leading hardware and software developers attended Meltdown ’98 events held in the United States, England and Japan. These Meltdown sessions for DirectX 6.0 have been conducted to ensure that hundreds of titles and an extensive range of hardware will be available by the holiday 1998 selling season.

Availability

The DirectX 6.0 SDK is available for download for a limited time at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp and can be ordered on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/sdkcdorder.asp. The DirectX 6.0 SDK will also be made available as part of the Microsoft Platform SDK in an upcoming release of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN
™
) developer program. Consumers can upgrade to the latest version of DirectX at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, DirectX, Windows, Windows NT, DirectMusic, Direct 3D, DirectDraw, DirectSound, DirectPlay and MSDN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Developer Support for DirectX 6.0

Developers responded enthusiastically to today’s announcement, which builds on major momentum generated during Microsoft’s recent Meltdown ’98 event for developers using the DirectX APIs.

“Now that we have DirectX 6.0, we can’t wait to get our new holiday titles into the hands of gamers everywhere. By focusing on faster performance and graphical quality, Microsoft has enabled us to create even richer experiences for our customers.”

-Frank Evers

Vice President of Production

Activision Inc.

“With the much-anticipated release of Half-Life, Sierra Studios is very excited about the new technologies enabled by DirectX 6.0. It has solidified Windows as the definitive gaming platform for our development studios.”

-Jim Veevaert

Director of Marketing

Sierra Studios

“With its outstanding performance and image quality, DirectX 6.0 is a critical element for PC users’ visual experience for this year and beyond. The support for advanced features, such as multi-texturing, found in Microsoft’s DirectX 6.0 and NVIDIA’S RIVA TNT, will enable stunning visual realism in the next wave of software titles.”

-Lew Paceley

Vice President for Corporate Marketing

NVIDIA Corp.


DirectX 6.0 represents a significant leap forward in capabilities and performance for
3-D gaming on the PC. As the first hardware company to demonstrate the power of Direct3D, 3Dfx is committed to the success and future technological direction of DirectX. Microsoft’s close collaboration with 3Dfx on the definition of multi-texturing and other advanced features will enable developers to quickly advance the state of the art in game development.”

-Gary Tarolli

Senior Vice President of Technology,
and Co-Founder
3Dfx Interactive Inc

“AMD is excited about Microsoft DirectX 6.0, not only because it enables software developers to deliver a truly rich multimedia experience on the PC, but also because it improves performance for PC users who have AMD-K6-2 processors. With the 3DNow! technology optimizations in the DirectX 6.0 APIs, end users will experience leading-edge multimedia performance with immersive 3-D environments, smooth imagery and full, realistic sound.”

-Dana Krelle

Vice President of Marketing
Computation Products Group
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)

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