Microsoft Ships DirectX 6.1
Latest Upgrade to Windows Operating Systems' Services for Multimedia Introduces DirectMusic, a Revolutionary Technology for Music Production and Performance
REDMOND, Wash. - Feb. 3, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. today announced shipment of version 6.1 of the Microsoft® DirectX® Software Development Kit (SDK), including the first public release of the widely heralded Microsoft DirectMusic™ API as well as native support for the Intel Pentium III processor family.
A mature and comprehensive set of system services in the Windows® operating system, DirectX unlocks the power of Windows-equipped multimedia PCs by providing software developers with transparent access to a wide range of peripherals, including graphics cards, audio adapters and input devices. DirectX was introduced in 1995 and is now a recognized standard for multimedia application development.
"With DirectX 6.1, we continue in our commitment to deliver industry-leading technologies to Windows-based application developers and end users," said Kevin Bachus, product manager of DirectX at Microsoft. "The newest member of the DirectX family, DirectMusic, will radically change the way consumers and developers perceive music on the personal computer."
DirectMusic Transforms the Way Music Is Produced and Performed
DirectMusic, which was first provided to a select group of software developers last February, addresses the historical limitations of MIDI-based music playback on Windows by delivering superior timing services, support for the MIDI Manufacturers Association's Downloadable Sounds (DLS) standard for wavetable synthesis, and an integrated software synthesizer, which guarantees users consistent and high-quality playback on virtually any hardware configuration. DirectMusic also includes a DLS version of the industry-standard SoundCanvas General MIDI sound set, licensed from Roland Corp., enabling composers to become immediately productive with the technology and reverberation technology licensed from Waves Ltd., which delivers richer, more complex sound quality.
By lifting the traditional restrictions of MIDI playback on personal computers, DirectMusic paves the way for composers and developers to fully exploit the capabilities of MIDI. DirectMusic includes an innovative suite of high-level tools and technologies that enable composers to create music scores that respond to user actions. Using the supplied DirectMusic Producer composition tool, composers can create highly customized and interactive music palettes, directing how the music should change when played by a software application. For example, the intensity of a piece of music in a DirectMusic-equipped game might increase if the player is doing well, or might seamlessly integrate a character's "theme" into the score when the character appears on-screen.
"DirectMusic has the makings of the next generation of music composition and playback for the Windows-based PC. The possibilities are limitless," said Alexander Brandon, composer of soundtracks for many leading computer games, including 'Unreal,' 'Dark Vengeance' and 'Jazz Jackrabbit 2.' "Novice and hobbyist musicians have been waiting for this for a long time, and the advanced features give professionals a completely new playground for their musical ideas."
"DirectMusic and DLS are a wake-up call to the PC music industry: MIDI is back!" said Tom White, president of the MIDI Manufacturers Association. "DirectMusic makes PC-based music more interactive than ever. Thanks to its support for DLS, composers can finally create compelling, interactive soundtracks that play on millions of PC sound cards with complete accuracy. DirectMusic is probably the most significant step in the evolution of PC-based music tools since the introduction of MIDI."
DirectX Delivers Pentium III Performance Advantages Without Additional Coding
DirectX 6.1 also delivers integrated support in the Direct3D® API for Intel's Pentium III processor. When Direct3D detects the presence of a Pentium III processor, it can transparently use the processor's specialized instructions for executing complex 3-D geometry functions. Such support provides developers with an automatic way to push the limits of their hardware, without having to do any additional coding, to create previously unattainable levels of graphical realism in real time on a personal computer.
"Intel is pleased to see this new DirectX 6.1 release with support for the upcoming Pentium III processor," said Jon Khazam, director of graphics marketing, Intel Corp. "Software developers now have a convenient way of accessing the powerful 3-D performance of all Intel processors. We have worked closely with Microsoft in the design and implementation of this latest release so that it takes advantage of the enhanced 3-D graphics capabilities of the Pentium III processor."
The DirectX 6.1 SDK is available for download for a limited time at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp and can be ordered on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/sdkcdorder.asp. The DirectX 6.1 SDK will also be made available as part of the Microsoft Platform SDK in an upcoming release of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN™) developer program. Consumers can upgrade to the latest version of DirectX by using the Windows Update feature in Windows 98 or by downloading a copy at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp.
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Third-Party Comments on DirectMusic
"With high-quality audio performance and interactive compositional techniques, DirectMusic makes possible richer more immersive sound environments than ever before. We're looking forward to enabling DirectMusic in several of our forthcoming titles this year."
- Scott Snyder
"By providing an architecture for creating and delivering music that is dynamic and nonlinear, DirectMusic adds a new dimension of excitement to games and interactive titles. Cakewalk looks forward to supporting developers and composers using DirectMusic in future versions of our music and sound content creation tools. DirectMusic makes Windows an even better platform for audio and music professionals."
- Greg Hendershott
Chairman and Chief Technology Officer
Cakewalk Music Software
"Microsoft has done a great job with DirectMusic. It will mean a lot to improving the quality and interactivity of music in computer games of the future. We're now supporting it in the Unreal Engine, and we expect that several of our licensees will choose to use DirectMusic in their future Unreal Engine-based releases."
- Mark Rein
Epic MegaGames Inc.
"Microsoft's new DirectMusic API helps return audio to its rightful place at the forefront of software development. For one thing, through support for the DLS standard, Microsoft assures developers and composers that their music will provide consistent, high-quality playback on any Windows-based PC."
- Rudy Helm
Interactive Audio Special Interest Group
At The Helm Audio Productions
"We're really excited about using DirectMusic in 'Anachronox.' The ability to have the music change to suit where you are and what's happening is really exciting, and is definitely going to make a huge impact on the immersive feeling of the game. After 'Anachronox' and DirectMusic rock the house, then my next titles and DirectMusic are going to rock future houses! Having DirectMusic for a game is like getting a free programmer under the Christmas tree."
- Tom Hall
"DirectMusic has allowed music to become genuinely interactive without sacrificing either the soul of the music or the original intent of the composer. Microsoft has done an excellent job at bringing music and audio back to the innovative forefront of multimedia. Well done."
- Denny Bromley
Composer and Audio Engineer
"As one of the first companies to work with DirectMusic-based technology, Monolith has seen firsthand the impact of interactive music on our games 'Shogo: Mobile Armor Division' and 'Blood 2.' While we were initially attracted by the excellent CD audio-quality music DirectMusic delivers on any system, we were impressed by how easily we could create variations that gave our score an organic feel. We look forward to exploring the more subtle interactive aspects of DirectMusic - creating themes, varied melodic elements and advanced harmonics - in our future products."
- Guy Whitmore
Director of Audio
Monolith Productions Inc.
"DirectMusic is a timely innovation within the interactive music world. Not only does it provide an ingenious way to manipulate musical patterns of varying emotional intensity but also the means whereby these patterns may be triggered by activities or events within a computer game or multimedia product. The DLS aspect ensures that every end user hears the same sounds, regardless of their PC system - goodbye, General MIDI!"
- Dave Punshon
Composer for video games and
multimedia products such as LEGO
Chess and Gangsters
"DirectMusic is truly a revolutionary tool for creating interactive music. Microsoft's adoption of the DLS standard brings high-quality synthesis with incredible flexibility."
- Monty Schmidt
Sonic Foundry Inc.
"Our job is to create emotions with music and sound effects. DirectMusic allows us to take game players on an immersive experience in which we are always directing the excitement, the tension and the triumph. We are excited about DirectMusic and feel that a new age of interactive music has just begun."
- Scott Martin Gershin
Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor
"It has always been the policy of Surreal Software to take advantage of the latest and most cutting-edge multimedia technology. When the time came to choose a music platform for Drakan, several options were available to us, each with its own strengths. In the end, Microsoft DirectMusic became the obvious choice for a number of reasons. It allowed us to bring high-quality music into our game with minimal performance and memory expense while offering us an unprecedented degree of flexibility and control over the music itself. Coupled with the ease of integration into our proprietary tools and the excellent support from the DirectMusic team at Microsoft, the entire package has proven a worthy component of the next-generation gaming experience."
- Tim Ebling
"VR-1 was one of the first companies to recognize the potential of DirectMusic for massively multiplayer Internet games. By combining the small, flexible format of MIDI with the excellent sound quality delivered by DLS and Microsoft's software synthesizer, DirectMusic has enabled us to create an immersive audio world that draws players into the world of VR-1 Crossroads."
- John Blakely
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