The good news is that despite the rumors that there would be no next version of DirectX, and despite Microsoft not being quick to reassure people of the future of DirectX, it seems that version 12 will be outlined at GDC later in the month.
You can put it down to scaremongering but the fact of the matter is that Microsoft have been so quiet on the future of DirectX that even top people at AMD were willing to say that the would be no DirectX 12. As graphics card manufacturers, they should be the first to know about new versions.
Suddenly and from nowhere, the DirectX blog is now advertising the presentation of a DirectX 12 session at GDC on March 20th. A tweet from a new DirectX12 account also acknowledges that there might be some unresolved rumors:
What isn't clear is the direction that DirectX will take in its new version. The GDC schedule gives very little away:
"For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.
However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console."
Two scraps of information provided here are noteworthy.
The first is "closer to the metal" which suggests that there might be more direct access to the GPU hardware. This makes sense as AMD launched a low-level API called Mantle thought to be partly a response to the uncertainties surrounding the next version of DirectX. Presumably what Microsoft has in mind is something similar to, or even something that subsumes, Mantle.
The second is the mention of its use on tablets and phones. This is more difficult to guess at but the "closer to the metal" API should make it possible to create something more lightweight.
A really interesting question is why the DirectX team have woken up at this point?
DirectX is the term used for the bundle of multimedia APIs that started out in Windows 95. Over time the different components have been improved, retired or replaced. The big problem is that Microsoft has never been very clear on the future of any of it and it still isn't being clear.
In addition, over time the term DirectX has become interchangeable with Direct3D the component responsible for 3D graphics. My guess is that in this case Microsoft is probably using DirectX to mean Direct3D or something related, and not the entire bundle of APIs - but I could be wrong.
The reason that they might be using the term DirectX is that in the past new versions of DirectX were issued along with new versions of Windows. DirectX 11.2 is only available under Windows 8.1, for example. Could it be that DirectX 12 is going to be part of Windows 9 in an attempt to make it look extra desirable?