After game fans got their hands on a pirated version, Microsoft finally released the official version.
When a version of DirectX 5.0 showed up in my e-mail from a friend, I sent Microsoft a note asking if the version that I acquired was official. Microsoft replied, "Where did you get that build? You aren't on the beta list so you didn't get it from here."
I had a feeling I was on to something.
So like any curious geek, I installed it and here is what I found.
DirectX 5.0 doesn't feel any different on first look, and it didn't blow my monitor settings like it did back with version 3.0, so I was happy. When I installed the new official Microsoft DirectX 5.0 executable today (it was officially released Monday), I discovered that it was the same one I already had. So I've been tooling around with the new drivers and this is what DirectX 5.0 does that DirectX 3.0a doesn't:
DirectDraw now supports the upcoming graphics workhorse AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port). Unfortunately AGP has been a long time in coming.
DirectInput, which decodes any hardware device that communicates with a DirectX-enabled game, will now support force-feedback controllers and sport a new game controller control panel.
DirectPlay, the API that allows games to connect to the Web and other services to play multiplayer games, will support Windows NT security, client/server support, and lobby client.
DirectSound3D, a new API that will make you happy if you have a sound card with 3-D audio, will support 3-D audio hardware acceleration.
DirectX 5.0 foundation, some of the underlying stuff you won't readily see, includes some features that won't even be supported until Windows 98 or Windows NT 5.0 (Windows NT users won't have to wait much longer to delete the dual boot on their systems just to play games). These features include multiple monitor support (you'll need another video card to do this but I hear it does work), and support for Universal Serial Bus (USB) audio hardware and joysticks.
The best and most noticed feature was the DirectX Setup; if you have a new driver for a piece of hardware, setup will inform you that it could possibly cause a problem with your hardware and lets you know as you're installing the new DirectX drivers. This would have saved thousands of users the headache that earlier versions of DirectX caused. Microsoft appears to have listened to all those angry voices. If it does mess your system up, the DirectX control panel app has a great little panic button that says it will restore all your previous drivers.
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