I have one piece of advice for all of you game developers out there: learn shaders now!!!! Go out and pick up Sebby's book and do it now.
Let's look at some trends in the industry and see if we can't put some clues together (with freely available public information) to justify this decision.
1) The fixed function pipeline is emulated in shaders on a lot of newer graphics cards (meaning the "true" fixed function pipeline is almost no longer)
2) There is an entire Effects Framework in the SDK to make hooking into Shaders a heck of a lot easier and it is actively being developed on.
3) As my prior post shows, Microsoft is definitely NOT afraid of trimming the fat and is starting to prove just that.
4) In a good number of newer games, the fixed function pipeline is simply used as a "fallback" when some piece of functionality is missing.
As a game developer, I would want to start learning about shaders now (just like how I wouldn't waste the time learning DirectDraw).