Microsoft created confusion when it sent an email to developers announcing that by April 1, 2014, it plans to "retire" XNA and DirectX from its "MVP Award Program" as a Technical Expertise. Leaked on Thursday, it contained wording that indicated that both XDA and DirectX would be retired, causing a wave of panic throughout the PC gaming community.
Microsoft's MVP Award Program program essentially awards "exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others." The email said that both platforms will no longer be part of the program.
However the leaked email also said that the cross-platform XNA Game Studio development platform is not in active development, and that DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology. That led to an impression that both platforms would eventually be discontinued, and that Microsoft was gearing up to launch a unified replacement.
XNA and DirectX developer lead Promit Roy (Chief Technology Officer, Action = Reaction Labs) followed up with a blog stating that the email was poorly worded, especially in regards to the DirectX aspect. But the blog also pointed out that "DirectX outside of Direct3D is completely dead," and that "Direct3D has been absorbed into Windows core." Thus Direct3D is no more a "technology" than GDI or Winsock.
"XNA Game Studio is finished. That situation has been obvious for years now, so it also should not really come as a surprise either," Roy confirmed. "It is clear at this juncture that there was no future and the tech was being phased out. Direct3D 10 was launched in late 2006, a bit over six years ago, yet XNA was apparently never going to be brought along with the major improvements in DWM and Direct3D."
XNA Game Studio has been used to code games released across Xbox Live, Windows Phone and other Windows-based devices. It was a breeding ground for independent developers including Supergiant Games' Bastion and Polytron's Fez. Other titles include Funcom's Bloodline Champions, Magicka from Paradox Interactive, Rocket Riot from THQ, numberous titles from Microsoft Studios and loads more.
As for the whole DirectX aspect, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reached out to Microsoft to get an official 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 rep said.
"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," the Microsoft rep added.
The wording contained in the leaked email was a mistake "pure and simple," the rep said.
Roy updated his blog with vents about Microsoft's communication skills, pointing out that XNA doesn’t support DirectX 10+ or Windows 8, but it’s still a "supported product". Because MVPs like Roy are serving as community representatives – as guides for everyone interested in the tech – Microsoft needs to communicate clearly with those developers.