Windows 7 update brings some DX11.1 features

Last week, a Microsoft developer stated that DirectX 11.1 would remain a Windows 8-only feature. That remark was true—but, as it turns out, only partially so. According to a post on the MSDN Games for Windows and DirectX SDK blog, there's a new patch out for Windows 7 that includes "portions" of the DirectX 11.1 runtime.

The patch is available here from Microsoft's Support site. It's also being rolled out as part of the Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview for Windows 7. The official release notes say this platform update "improves the features and performance" of components, including:

  • Direct2D
  • DirectWrite
  • Direct3D
  • Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
  • Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP)
  • Windows Animation Manager (WAM)
  • XPS Document API
  • H.264 Video Decoder
  • JPEG XR codec

That description is a little vague. Thankfully, the MSDN blog post offers a more thorough run-down of the changes and additions in store. Those are:

  • ID3D11Device1, ID2D1Factory1, IDWriteFactory1, IDXGIFactory2, IWICImagingFactory2, ID3DUserDefinedAnnotation and related APIs are available. Methods that depend on WDDM 1.2 drivers or new Windows Store app APIs are not supported.
  • Improved Direct3D 11 device interoperability via ID3DDeviceContextState, including the improved interop with Direct2D/DirectWrite
  • D3D11_FEATURE_DATA_D3D9_OPTIONS feature detection
  • In addition to the new Windows 8 WIC features, this update also fixes decoding of 96bpp floating-point TIFF images.

"All other features of DirectX 11.1 are Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 only," concludes the post. Notably absent from the list is version 1.2 of the Windows Display Driver Mode. According to Microsoft's overview, that revision "includes several new enhancements that improve performance, reliability, and the overall end user experience."

For us PC gamers, one of WDDM 1.2's most notable additions is that of a "consistent API and [Display Driver Interface] platform for Stereoscopic 3D scenarios such as gaming and video playback." Windows 8 systems with compatible stereo 3D hardware and the right drivers should be able to toggle stereo 3D right from the Screen Resolution control panel. Over time, the new stereo 3D mojo may reduce the importance of vendor-specific standards like Nvidia's 3D Vision and AMD's HD3D.

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