DirectX 10 is set to ship at the beginning of next year with the first public release version of Windows Vista. It will change the way software developers create games for Windows, and hopefully it will benefit us gamers in terms of better visuals while also delivering better performance.
On the graphics side, DirectX 10 has been reworked from the ground up: no aspect of the API was left untouched on the graphics side. The driver model has been completely reworked, under DX10 the driver is split into two parts: the user mode driver and the kernel mode driver. The kernel mode driver is kept distinct from the user mode driver to enhance stability. The idea here is to keep user mode drivers for Direct3D, OpenGL, and DirectX video playback (among others) isolated from the kernel driver for the operating system, so that one can't affect the other.
Under the current driver model, the majority of the graphics driver resides in the operating system's kernel space, so if the driver were to crash while gaming for instance, it could cause the entire operating system to crash along with it. By separating the driver into distinct parts, the hope is that DirectX 10 will deliver better overall system stability than previous versions of DirectX.
Another change in DirectX 10 is that Microsoft has removed entirely the fixed function pipeline, everything is programmable. Software developers will use shaders to emulate the fixed function pipeline for older, legacy apps that use fixed function....