Microsoft: False alarm. We aren't backing away from DirectX

Microsoft officials say an email sent to some of its Most Valuable Professionals about the company's waning commitment to the DirectX multimedia interface was a mistake.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

False alarm: Microsoft isn't backing away from DirectX, despite an email message the company sent to some of its Most Valuable Professionals to the contrary earlier this week.

On January 30, Microsoft apparently sent an email message to its XNA and DirectX MVPs notifying them that as of April 1, 2014 "XNA/DirectX will be fully retired from the MVP Award Program." An excerpt from this email was posted on the "Promit Ventspace" blog.

The author of the blog is Promit Roy, Chief Technology Officer at Action = Reaction Labs, LLC. (Roy previously worked at both NVIDIA and Microsoft. He also is the lead developer on SlimDX, an open source library for DirectX support in .NET.)

Here's the excerpt:

"The XNA/DirectX expertise was created to recognize community leaders who focused on XNA Game Studio and/or DirectX development. Presently the XNA Game Studio is not in active development and DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology. Given the status within each technology, further value and engagement cannot be offered to the MVP community. As a result, effective April 1, 2014 XNA/DirectX will be fully retired from the MVP Award Program."

Given Microsoft's decision to back away from XNA by not encouraging its use for future Windows Phone apps, and not allowing it to be used at all in developing Windows Store/Metro Style apps and games, I wasn't too surprised to see XNA called out as a Microsoft technology on its way out.

But DirectX? Microsoft's set of gaming/graphics programming interfaces that have been baked into Windows and Windows Phone?

I asked Microsoft about the MVP mail. A spokesperson sent the following statement:

"I can confirm that the original communication sent to MVPs yesterday was inaccurate. Microsoft has issued a follow-up communication to the DirectX/XNA MVPs reaffirming that DirectX is very much an important and evolving technology for Microsoft."

The spokesperson added that "Microsoft is actively investing in DirectX as the unified graphics foundation for all of our platforms, including Windows, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone. DirectX is evolving and will continue to evolve. We have absolutely no intention of stopping innovation with DirectX."

So what happened here? How could that MVP email been so, so wrong about Microsoft's future DirectX commitments? The spokesperson said "it was a mistake, pure and simple."

"Microsoft has people across multiple divisions working on DirectX technologies. We are actively innovating and evolving DirectX and it will continue to be the world’s leading low-level high performance interface for gaming and graphics across Microsoft platforms," the spokesperson added.

In spite of his (correct)hunch that the note to the MVPs was wrong/badly worded, Roy still was quite down on how Microsoft has been handling and communicating about DirectX.

Update: (Thanks @Shmuelie) Roy posted an update with some of the revised wording Microsoft sent to MVPs about DirectX on his blog on January 31. He noted his frustrations around Microsoft's communication policies with its developers still remains. 

"It shouldn’t take a leaked email to force a straight answer," Roy concluded. We journalists and bloggers agree!

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