At GDC this year Gamespot sat down with Dean Lester, the top dog of Microsoft Windows Graphics and Gaming division. A few tidbits were collected during the interview, one being that Direct X 9 may be the last DX we see for a couple years. Another interesting spot of news is that MS has some pretty extensive integrated gaming plans for the Longhorn OS.
As much as some of you hate it when Microsoft makes industry wide changes and assumes control this particular idea sounds pretty slick. The current release date for Longhorn is 2005.
As has been rumored, Longhorn will likely include a major overhaul in Window's visual presentation, which may include 3D interface elements. Lester also said it would include a special "My Games" view that would centralize all the matchmaking, control panel settings, patching tools, and game lists and make such tasks much simpler. Microsoft is working on streamlining a number of current technical trouble areas, like the installation process and display drivers, and will centralize game updates through a Windows Update-like patch server. It's also looking into making it possible to run Windows games directly from the CD without installation. Somewhat more straightforward features include adding sophisticated matchmaking into Microsoft Messenger and parental controls over which users can play certain games.