If you run a supported version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, your system is automatically supporting a version of DirectX as well.
Depending on which Windows version you use, you may run DirectX 9.0c if you are running Windows XP, DirectX 10 or 11 if you are running Vista or Windows 7, DirectX 11.1 if you are running Windows 7 o Windows 8, or DirectX 11.2 if you are running Windows 8.1.
Microsoft announced DirectX 12 yesterday on the DirectX Developer Blog. The announcement concentrates on the Direct3D component and its new capabilities and features, and does not provide information about other components of interest, such as Direct2D or DirectCompute.
To demonstrate the capabilities of DirectX 12, Microsoft has run the benchmark 3DMark both on Direct3D 11 and Direct3D 12 to visualize performance improvements.
According to the development team, DirectX 12 offers optimized multi-thread scaling and a 50% better cpu utilization (running 3D Mark benchmarks, which is different from real-world applications).
This performance boost is accomplished by API improvements, especially in the three key areas pipeline state objects, command lists and bundles, and resource access.
This is all very technical, and if you are interested in those information, I suggest you visit the blog post linked above to find out more about it.
While developers are the main target, it is also of interest to gamers that use Microsoft products. Microsoft failed to address several important information about the new version of DirectX 12.
For instance, will it only be available for systems running Windows 8 and newer, or will it also be made available to users of Windows 7? It is very likely that Windows Vista is out of the picture here, considering that the operating system did not even receive DirectX 11.1 or DirectX 11.2. And since Windows XP support ends next month, it won't get the new DirectX 12 as well.
With Windows 8.1, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012 R2 being the only operating systems to receive DirectX 11.2 at this point, it is likely that Microsoft will make DirectX 12 a Windows 8.1 or maybe even Windows 9 exclusive.
Why Windows 9? Because the company estimates that first DirectX 12 games will be released at the end of 2015. This means that Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9, as it stands now, will be released before first games hit retail channels.
Windows Phone and XboxOne will also support DirectX 12 according to the blog post.
As far as hardware is concerned, Microsoft notes that most dedicated graphics hardware is capable of benefiting from DirectX 12, so that it is not necessary to buy a new GPU or PC just for that. Still, if you run Vista or Windows 7, then you probably will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 9 to benefit from the new version of DirectX.
If DirectX 12 is a Windows 8.x or Windows 9 exclusive, would you switch to the operating system because of it?