DirectX 9 - More 3D graphics
Let's cut to the chase and get into the juicy happenings. First off, DirectX 9. Yeah, well, it's true that we're just getting the DirectX 8.1 Beta Interim 2, and it will finally ship only with XP so, why DirectX 9? I think it pretty much sets the tone for DirectX 8 as well. Most of you non-XP users will probably be upgrading to DirectX 8.1, and will eventually upgrade to DirectX 9. From a graphics standpoint, we shouldn't expect too much from future versions of DirectX in new, cool terminology. The more programmability is added into DirectX the more the emphasis is going to be on reducing Microsoft's direct role in the 3D pipeline.
What we do know is that DirectX 9 will be a completely new .dll file so, that's one more upgrade to look forward to. It will introduce Scissor Planes, which is not really a gaming feature but more for the serious application, and will expect hardware support for a rectangle that can clip pixels. That's what it means, you put a box around your view, and scissor out what's not visible. Great for putting up multiple windows and clipping the viewport accordingly. Doesn't get done very well without a certain level of percision and hardware support. It's in OpenGL. OpenGL scissor and stencil functions are generally used to stop OpenGL writing to parts of the screen. Haven't anything more to say about that.