REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 22, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced availability of the much anticipated Microsoft® DirectX® 7.0 application programming interface (API). The newest update to Microsoft’s popular multimedia API delivers enhanced three-dimensional graphics and sound effects and a significant performance boost, among other exciting features.
A set of advanced multimedia system services built into the Microsoft Windows operating system, DirectX provides software developers with a common set of instructions and components for quick, transparent access to a broad range of hardware peripherals without their having to write hardware-specific code.
“The overriding goal of DirectX is to make game development more fun and less work by allowing developers to create cutting-edge software without worrying about the hardware they’re creating it for,”
said Ted Hase, group program manager for DirectX evangelism at Microsoft.
“DirectX 7.0 continues to build on the advancements made in DirectX 6.1, providing further improvement to performance optimization, greater ease of development, and superior 3-D graphics and sound.”
Without radically altering the infrastructure of DirectX 6.1, the new version of the API offers a number of key additions. Notably, there is increased support for hardware-accelerated transformation and lighting through a dedicated 3-D accelerator, freeing up the CPU for tasks such as physics calculations or artificial intelligence algorithms. The end result is a much higher polygon count, allowing 3-D objects and characters to appear more seamless and complex.
“DirectX 7.0 gives our development teams access to the cutting-edge features we need to create a richer, more immersive gaming experience,”
said Mike O’Brien, lead programmer for Blizzard Entertainment’s
Additionally, DirectX 7.0 supports environment mapping, allowing users to create lifelike visual effects such as reflections in a pool of water or light passing through a stained-glass window. The API also supports smaller features like stereo goggles, which contribute to a more immersive gaming experience. In addition, applications using the DirectX 7.0 API run about 20 percent faster than applications using version 6.1, improving overall game performance.
“DirectX 7.0 gives ‘Unreal Tournament’ a significant performance boost,”
said Tim Sweeney, Unreal engine programmer for Epic Games.
“We’re very happy with the ongoing API improvements Microsoft has made with the Direct3D® API.”
Audio effects have also been improved with new software algorithms for 3-D sound and greater flexibility for managing hardware mixing capabilities. DirectX 7.0 provides hardware acceleration for the DirectMusic® API on supporting sound cards, allowing users to create richer, more complex musical soundtracks. DirectMusic opens up a new generation of wave table synthesizers supporting the downloadable sounds (DLS) 2 standard, giving users more control over sound processing.
“As with all versions of DirectX, version 7.0 has made great strides in 3-D graphics and sound quality, enabling software developers to create game titles for the Windows platform that more closely mirror reality,”
said James North-Hearn, vice president of worldwide development at Infogrames Entertainment.
For the first time, the new version of DirectX opens the API to a new group of developers by providing language support for the Microsoft Visual Basic® development system. In an effort to provide the same access to high-performance multimedia functionality previously offered to C developers, the DirectX 7.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) includes sample code and helper controls to make DirectX accessible and easier to understand for programmers using the Visual Basic development system.
“We were very pleased to see the Visual Basic wrapper included with DirectX 7.0, as it is a great addition to the multimedia toolkit market for developers,”
said John Hewitt, president and founder of Phantom Reality Inc.
“The consistency of a single source for this technology will make the possibilities limitless for developers writing in C++ and Visual Basic.”
The DirectX 7.0 SDK may be ordered from the DirectX Developer Downloads Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/developer/downloads/default.asp .
MSDN TM Universal subscribers automatically receive the latest SDK as part of their subscription to the MSDN developer program. DirectX beta program members also automatically receive both the beta and the final version of the SDK as they become available.
To run the latest games and applications using Microsoft DirectX technology, consumers can upgrade to DirectX 7.0 by using the Windows Update feature in Windows 98. The latest version of DirectX is also available for download from the DirectX Home User Web page at http://microsoft.com/directx/homeuser/downloads/default.asp .
DirectX was first introduced in 1995 and is now a recognized standard for multimedia application development. DirectX 7.0 is the sixth major release of DirectX.
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