This past week News.com reported that Chromeffects was being shelved for an indefinite period of time. Chromeffects appeared at SIGGRAPH 98 with a big splash. A significant portion of Microsoft's floor space at the conference was dedicated to the new software.
For a change response on the VRML list was actually pretty civil. As much as we all enjoy bashing Microsoft, one of the wiser VRML old timers aptly pointed out that there are real feeling human being behind events like this.
Kate Seeking from Microsoft keeps track of VRML developments and is basically on the front lines for Microsoft regarding VRML. She posted the following information to the VRML mailing list about the events: (I've added the links for informational purposes)
News travels fast - Microsoft hasn't made an official announcement yet ;]
Here's the scoop. As you've heard, Microsoft has decided to delay the release of Chromeffects 1.0.
Chromeffects 1.0 consists of: An enhanced version of DirectAnimation DXTransform - images and 3d special effects layering XML tags (duplicated in our HTML+TIME effort) 2D & 3D XML tags.
We made this decision based on extensive feedback garnered during the development process for the Chromeffects multimedia technologies. As part of this process, partners in the development community asked us to revise some of the specific features that were planned for Chromeffects' first release. Some of the feedback included requests for:
Tighter integration with the HTML document object model (DOM) Better support for data visualization technologies like data binding and XQL. Better synchronization with proposed and existing standards More authoring tool support Improved quality and performance of 3D hardware device drivers
Based on this feedback, we decided to refactor the Chromeffects technologies to better meet customer and development partner needs. Instead of releasing Chromeffects this Christmas, we will instead release Chromeffects technologies in multiple phases. In the first release phase, we will include key Chromeffects components as part of the IE5 technology update and the Windows 2000 Pro release. This means that enhanced DirectAnimation, DirectX Transform and HTML+TIME will be shipped with both Internet Explorer 5.0 and Windows2000 Pro. The 2D and 3D XML tags will be released as an integrated feature of a future update to Windows which will ship after Windows 2000 Pro.
Microsoft will also continue to use the existing Chromeffects SDK to gather further feedback on our interfaces and tags in order to ensure that subsequent releases of these components are properly aligned with the needs of our customers in this space.
We believe that, as a result of these changes to Chromeffects, we will end up with a richer, better integrated and robust set of technologies that will fit developers' needs. You should therefore feel free to communicate feedback to me direct, and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your organization are directly affected.
So Chromeffects isn't dead. It's being retooled. While I for one would love to see Microsoft play in the VRML field in a more open forthcoming fashion, I also am no enemy of many of the ideas of Chromeffects. It would be wonderful if Microsoft took the timing of all these events to regroup, play a more active role in the VRML-NG (next generation) and bring some of their considerable expertise to the table.
To steal from Julian Gomez's email tag line an appropriate quote in these circumstances: "Before you criticize a man, you should walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, you are a mile away from him. And you've got his shoes."
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