It’s the end of the world as we know it… and I feel, kinda sad actually



First off, the following link is purely conjecture, nothing in it has been confirmed by anyone at Microsoft, that said the conclusions it draws are logical to say the least, and dire.  Microsoft seems to be exiting DirectX/XNA development.  Now, that’s not quite as bad as it sounds, DX and possibly XNA will continue to exist, but they won’t receive nearly the level of emphasis that they currently do.


The blog post was from Promit a moderator at, a DirectX/XNA MVP and the primary lead on the popular SlimDX library.  Simply put, the man is no idiot.


Here is a snippet:


Let’s start with the DirectX SDK, which you may have noticed was last updated in June of 2010. That’s about a year and a half now, which is a bit of a lag for a product which has — sorry, had — scheduled quarterly releases. Unless of course that product is canceled, and it is. You heard me right: there is no more DirectX SDK. Its various useful components have been spun out into a hodge-podge of other places, and some pieces are simply discontinued. Everything outside DirectX Graphics is of course gone, and has been for several years now. That should not be a surprise. The graphics pieces and documentation, though, are being folded into the Windows SDK. D3DX is entirely gone. The math library was released as XNA Math (essentially a port from Xbox), then renamed to DirectXMath. It was a separate download for a while but I think it might be part of Windows SDK from Windows 8 also. I haven’t checked. The FX compiler has been spun off/abandoned as an open source block of code that is in the June 2010 SDK. There are no official patches for a wide range of known bugs, and I’m not aware of a central location for indie patches. Most of the remaining bits and pieces live on Chuck Walbourn’s blog. Yeah, I know.


In case it’s not obvious, this means that the DirectX release schedule is now the same as the Windows SDK, which always corresponds with major OS updates (service packs and full new versions). Don’t hold your breath on bug fixes. Last I heard, there’s only one person still working on the HLSL compiler. Maybe they’ve hired someone, or I assume they have a job opening on that ‘team’ at least. What I do know is that for all practical purposes, DirectX has been demoted to a standard, uninteresting Windows API just like all the others. I imagine there won’t be a lot more samples coming from Microsoft, especially big cool ones like the SDK used to have. Probably have to rely on AMD and NVIDIA for that stuff moving forward.


That covers the native side. What about managed? Well the Windows API Code Pack hasn’t been updated in a year and a half so we won’t worry about that. On the XNA front, two things are becoming very clear:
* XNA is not invited to Windows 8.
* XBLIG is not a serious effort.
The point about XBLIG has been known by most of us MVP guys for a while now. Microsoft promised a lot of interesting news out of this past //BUILD/ conference, which I suppose was true. However you may have noticed that XNA was not mentioned at any point. That’s because XNA isn’t invited. All of that fancy new Metro stuff? None of it will work with XNA, at all, in any fashion.


I highly recommend you read the entire post it is an interesting read to say the least.



Say what you will about the conclusions he has drawn and you will realize this is actually just the tip of the iceberg. 



First off, I think its clear to just about anyone watching that the executive team at Microsoft don’t know their head from their….  Anyways, look at the recent attempts to purchase Yahoo for a hundred, trillion billion dollars, followed by an 8! billion dollar acquisition of Skype and it is pretty clear they don’t have a bloody clue what they are doing.  Fortunately for them Office and Windows make so much money they can weather a storm of stupidity.


But more core to the problem is the recent internal civil war between J Allard and Steven Sinofsky ( more details here ).  J Allard for those that don’t know is the guy behind Xbox ( and frankly a number of failures too ) at Microsoft while Steven Sinofsky is the guy that runs the Windows team at Microsoft and saved it from the debacle of Vista.  Both were highly regarded, both were stars on the rise at Microsoft and they went head to head on the future of tablet computing ( and to a lesser degree Microsoft itself ).  Steven won, Allard is gone.  Thing is, it seems Steven’s win is more far reaching and the future of the OS/Win 8 seems to be calling all the shots, no matter how ill advised they are.


So, the deprecation of DirectX to simply another SDK in the platform makes sense when viewed through the lens that the guy calling the shots is *in charge of the platform!*.  Sadly, DirectX, Courier and XNA don’t seem to be the only causalities in this story.  Silverlight also appears to be a dead end technology now, either killed by a political blunder by Bob Muglia or in fact on the way out, in support of HTML5/Javascript.  Developer support has always been the corner stone of Microsoft’s success and if they continue down this route, the future seems  a very bleak place.  Personally as a developer, the shift back to using HTML + Javascript is a blunder of epic proportions.


Frankly, it seems like innovation has died at Microsoft, Developer support certainly seems to have.  Microsoft has, for at least a decade, been known for exceptional developer support, probably the best in the industry.  These days however, may be in the past and I for one am greatly saddened.


Does this mean you should stop developing XNA apps?  Certainly not, at least, not yet.  Even as it stands now, it is a stable and well developed product.  Should you stop developing Silverlight or WPF applications?  That one is a hell of a lot trickier to determine and the lack of words outside of Microsoft aren’t exactly filling me with confidence.  Should you be boning up your HTML and Javascript skills?  Sadly, yes.


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