DirectX 12 Breaks The Shackles Of Windows 10 Exclusivity

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅14.03.2019 00:28:54

In a surprising move Microsoft have announced that certain key aspects of the DirectX 12 graphics API will no longer be exclusive to Windows 10. Starting with this week's update to World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth DirectX 12 rendering will be available to players using Windows 7, hence garnering better performance from even effectively obsolete hardware.

DirectX 12 is billed as a low-level graphics API that offers developers finer access to GPU resources as well as enable better use of CPU (especially multi-core CPU) resources. It's been used with some success in more recent games, pushing greater performance compared with DirectX 11 rendering, and AMD GPUs architectures in particular have been able to take advantage of this new paradigm.

Even older GPU architectures dating as far back as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600-series and AMD Radeon HD 7000-series support DirectX 12 to some level, and that can't be a coincidence. The demands that MMOs place on ones time mean that MMO gamers tend to have long upgrade cycles; after all, it's not like the hardware requirements of an MMO change much over time. Upgrading to the latest version of Windows also tracks with major system upgrades, so MMO gamers are more likely than other groups to still be on Windows 7.

Patch 8.1 of WoW: Battle for Azeroth brought with it plenty of (some would say long-overdue) multi-core enhancements that Windows 10 users noted significantly improved performance in heavily populated zones. At least part of the 8.1.5 update released on Tuesday unlocks similar in Windows 7, enhancements which the vast majority of systems purchased in the last 7 years can take advantage of:

After we saw the performance gains of using multi-threaded rendering in DirectX 12 for the initial Tides of Vengeance (8.1) update, we worked together with Microsoft and our hardware vendors to bring similar performance gains to our Windows 7 users. We are pleased to announce that with today’s content update, World of Warcraft will now support DirectX 12 on Windows 7. This allows our Windows 7 users to take advantage of the performance benefit of using DirectX 12, which was previously only available to our Windows 10 users.

Windows 7 users will need to make sure they have the latest graphics drivers to use DirectX 12. If your GPU supports DirectX 12 on Windows 7, you may enable it by selecting it in the Advanced System settings, under "Graphics API".

A MSDN DirectX12 developer blog released concurrently by Microsoft makes it clear that although the update brings some aspects of DirectX 12 to Windows 7, the best environment for DX12 remains Windows 10. However, they do leave the door open for other developers to work with them to bring 'DirectX 12 in Windows 7' enhancements to their games. MMOs are the obvious choice, but very popular MOBAs and other long-lasting titles with a dedicated following are also potential candidates.

The clock is ticking though. Microsoft will cease regular updates to Windows 7 in January 2020 and with them legacy support such as this, after which recommendations to upgrade to Windows 10 will become increasingly shrill.

SOURCE: Blizzard Forums, Microsoft DevBlogs

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