"While the next major revision for DirectX is not expected until Longhorn’s launch, Microsoft’s DirectX group has been briefing developers on what’s in store for “DirectX Next” with presentations at Microsoft Meltdown and other developer conferences. Recently, this presentation was made available to the public via Microsoft’s Developer Network. The intent of this article is to give a more thorough treatment of the features listed for inclusion with DirectX Next and hence explore the types of capabilities that DirectX Next may be offering.
While the first 7 revisions for DirectX were met with mostly evolutionary enhancements and additions focused on very specific graphics features, such as environment and bump mapping, DirectX8 broke the trend and introduced a number of new, general-purpose systems. Most notably being the programmable pipeline, where vertex and pixel shading was no longer controlled by simply tweaking a few parameters, or toggling specific features on and off. Instead, with DirectX8 you were given a set number of inputs and outputs and were pretty much allowed to go nuts in between and do whatever you wished, as long as it was within the hardware’s resources – at least, this is how vertex shading worked. Pixel shading, on the other hand, was extremely limited, and really not even all that programmable. You could do a handful of vector operations on a handful of inputs (via vertex shader outputs, pixel shader constants, and textures) with one output, the frame buffer, but that’s about it. DirectX8.1 provided some aide in this respect, but it wasn’t until DirectX9 that everything really started to come into place.