Stupid – releasing a version of DirectX (number 10, if you’re counting) that doesn’t work with Windowses other than Vista, and failing to provide any real reason why this should be so.
Stupider – Not having any games that show what DirectX10 is capable of over half a year on from Vista’s launch, compounding the many reasons not to invest in the troubled new operating system.
Pricelessly stupid – Announcing there’s to be another new version of DirectX already, which the expensive 3D cards people excited about DX10 already splashed out on won’t support.
Yes, if you want DirectX 10.1, coming in Vista Service Pack 1, you’ll need yet another 3D card. It beggars belief, it really does. Lost Planet’s the only DX10 game to speak of so far, and it both looked no better and ran worse under DX10 than it did in DX9. Meanwhile, artificially making DX10 Vista-only just pissed gamers off.
Regardless of its performance potential, so far DX10 has been a bit of a PR disaster. And yet Microsoft is to release a new version that requires new hardware, and thus can only confuse and annoy gamers further. While there’s nothing in it that’s going to make game developers convinced they must have it (salt in the wound in fact, as the update sounds entirely futile), the worst case scenario is that a big game like Crysis or Alan Wake goes DX10.1, ripping out 10 support entirely and forcing our pricy new GeForce 8s and Radeon HD cards down into hoary old DX9.
Rationality would have it there’s no way that could happen, but it just takes one graphics card company keen to flog a new range of cards (bet on the release of GeForce 9 coincinding with that of Vista SP1) waving a suitably-sized check at a publisher to ensure the switch happens. Most days, I’m not that honestly bothered about Microsoft’s chokehold on the PC as a platform. When a flat-out moronic move like this demonstrates just how absolute their power over the ol’ IBM Compatible is though, I feel sick to stomach.
Still, compounding my feelings of late that id are becoming golden boys of PC once again, John Carmack revealed at Quakecon that their new game, Rage, will not require DirectX 10 hardware or software, and was entirely dismissive about it. Historically, id have used the rarer but non-Microsoft OpenGL graphics API, so hopefully Rage will mean a latter day resurgence for it. Games for the people! And also a kick in the teeth for Microsoft’s continued arguments for DX10’s essentialness.