Now that DirectX 5.0 is publicly available, Microsoft is already turning up the heat on the next major revision of their multimedia APIs, DirectX 6.0, which is due in April. According to Kevin Bachus, product manager for the DirectX Entertainment platform at Microsoft, the preliminary design of DirectX 6 should be completed by the end of this month. A first beta is due in December with a second beta in February.

In an interesting move, Microsoft has moved all 3D graphics API development to the Windows NT group. As a result, DirectX 6 will first appear on NT 5.0, Bachus said. Windows 98 support will follow. Microsoft's aim is to make Direct3D more stable while adding more features, Bachus said. Direct3D accelerator cards generally cost $200-300, making them consumer-level items, not high-end graphics hardware