6 Months before Support End, Microsoft brings DirectX 12 support to Windows 7

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 26, 2019
Updated • Aug 26, 2019
Windows, Windows 7

When Microsoft announced DirectX 12 in 2014, it did not reveal any compatibility information. The new version of DirectX was announced at a time when Windows 8 was the latest operating system; Windows 10 was released in 2015.

We assumed back then that Microsoft would limit DirectX artificially to Windows 8 or the upcoming version of Windows which we assumed would be Windows 9.

Microsoft revealed at the end of 2014 that Windows 10 would indeed ship with DirectX 12 support. Rumors suggested that the new version would not be made available to earlier versions of Windows, and a Microsoft support article confirmed that. Windows 7 systems were stuck with DirectX 11.0 and 11.1, Windows 8.1 with Direct X 11.1 and 11.2

Four years later, in early 2019, Microsoft suddenly announced that DirectX 12 support would be coming to select games on Windows 7.  Game companies urged Microsoft to bring DirectX 12 to Windows 7 to make use of advanced capabilities and reduce development costs at the same time.

directx 12 windows 7

Microsoft began to port the Direct3D 12 runtime as a response to Windows 7. Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft and other games, was the first company to support a DirectX 12 game on Windows 7. World of Warcraft gamers could run the game using DirectX 12 to benefit from better framerates and other improvements.

Options to bring DirectX 12 games to Windows 7 devices were limited initially but work with several game studios -- none is mentioned in particular except Blizzard -- continued after the initial announcement.

Microsoft released a new development guidance in August 2019 to allow game developers to run their DirectX 12 games on Windows 7.

To better support game developers at larger scales, we are publishing the following resources to allow game developers to run their DirectX 12 games on Windows 7.

Developers can check out the Porting D3D12 games to Windows 7 guide to get started.  The guide is divided into several chapters. It begins with a list of files and drivers that are needed to set up a development system and test machines. Other chapters reveal how to get DirectX 12 games up and ready on Windows 7 PCs, give optimization tips and release suggestions.

Closing Words

The big question that came to my mind immediately was "why now?". Windows 7 nears end of support; the operating system won't get updates anymore after the January 2020 patch day. While companies may extend support for up to three years, they are not the core target for gaming and it seems highly unlikely that many would benefit from the feature.

Windows 7 systems won't just go away in January 2020, however. If Windows XP's death is anything to go by, it could take years before use of the operating system drops below the ten percent mark. Game companies may continue to support Windows 7 because of that even after Windows 7 support ends officially.

I still think that the timing on this is really bad. It is clear that Microsoft wanted to encourage gamers to upgrade to Windows 10 by making DirectX 12 Windows 10 exclusive in the beginning: this did not work very well when Microsoft released Windows Vista and made DirectX 10 Vista exclusive. Gamers and companies ignored DirectX 10 for the most part as a consequence.

Now You: What is your take on this?

6 Months before Support End, Microsoft brings DirectX 12 support to Windows 7
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6 Months before Support End, Microsoft brings DirectX 12 support to Windows 7
Microsoft revealed in August 2019 that game companies could bring DirectX 12 games to the company's Windows 7 operating system.
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  1. Win7User said on August 28, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    If Microsoft is doing something “good” for consumers then it also means Microsoft is doing something that serves their manipulating and self-servicing goals in the longer run. Thus, I would be wary of some included telemetry or other nefarious inclusions in a Win7DX12 download from them. Of course, it may not make that much difference since they are already including such garbage in Windows 7 “Security Only” updates.

  2. TelV said on August 27, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Sounds like a ploy to induce Windows 7 users to switch to Windows 10 when support for older OS expires next year.

    From what I’ve read elsewhere D3D12 is specifically aimed at World of Warcraft players. However, the D3D12 upgrade will introduce new vulnerabilities to the system for which M$ won’t provide patches for come 2020. So I guess the thinking behind the introduction is to motivate WoW players on Windows 7 to upgrade to Windows 10.

  3. hmm said on August 27, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I wonder if Direct3D 12 files for Windows 7 can be copy over to Wine on Linux.

  4. ilev said on August 27, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Windows 7 still has and will continue to have ~40% Windows OS share for years to come.

  5. DavidG said on August 27, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Maybe because Adobe Lightroom Classic v8.4 users still stuck on Windows 7, are very very pissed, as Adobe has depreciated OpenGL for GPU acceleration, calling for DirectX v12 only (Metal for MAC)

  6. Yuliya said on August 27, 2019 at 1:07 am

    I assume the only action a user needs to take is to have Win7 up to date to benefit of this, right? Neat!

  7. Emanon said on August 26, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    DirectX12 on Windows 7 is limited to Feature Level 11, meaning is not actually using DirectX12 features…

    The same way DirectX10 GPUs can run DirectX11 but limited to Feature Level 10.

    So no, DirectX12 is not coming to Windows 7.

    1. POSReady7 said on March 13, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      And for some reason that game such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that Infinity Ward said that the game only support Windows 7 and 10 and not supporting Windows 8/8.1 and the game seem to be running DirectX 12, that 7 originally doesn’t have.

  8. Matthew Evans said on August 26, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    Could this mean that Windows 7 is going to get a support extension in the same way that Windows XP did?

    Windows 7 still runs on 35.99% of Windows computers and 31.83% of all desktop computers. Leaving such a large number of computers without security patches would likely result in a huge number of infected computers, which was adversely impact the whole computing ecosystem. That would be extremely irresponsible of Microsoft, so I wonder if they’re planning a support extension for Windows 7 in order to avoid mass infections?

    1. stefann said on August 27, 2019 at 5:45 am

      @Matthew Evans : Only fools get their operating system(s) infected….

  9. leland said on August 26, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    I think you mean DirectX 10 on Windows Vista, not 12.

    1. John said on August 26, 2019 at 9:46 pm

      Yep, it reminds me of Halo 2. Many of us were really looking forward to the PC version. But then, they made it Vista exclusive. Being smarter than to pay $200 for an unnecessary OS upgrade, only to then wind up needing an accompanying memory upgrade too because Vista ran poorly in 1 GB, (which was blissful on XP), just to play an at the time 3 year old game which was originally designed for a six year old piece of hardware, (Xbox) I passed. As did the majority of people. It just wasn’t a compelling deal!

      Also worth noting that many systems that would have otherwise run Halo 2 were hardware-limited to only 1 or perhaps 2GB of memory. On these machines, a vista upgrade would have been a performance downgrade. So I went and played other games, like Tremulous and Urban terror, games that ran on Windows, Mac and Linux, and I forgot all about Halo 2 for the PC. Others were probably playing Counter-strike Source and TF2. I was still foolish enough to do volunteer work on other peoples’ Windows computers at that time, even after what Microsoft did to me as a fan of the first Halo game. (I do regret not starting refusing to do this sooner.)

      Microsoft finally pushed me off of the Windows platform for good with this stunt and GWX. I don’t even dual-boot anymore. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/19/chap_fixes_microsofts_windows_7_and_8_update_block_on_new_cpus/

      1. stefann said on August 27, 2019 at 5:43 am

        @John : Many complained about Vista, until Microsoft released SP2. Vista was/is really faster than Windows 7, if You configured it the right way depending on Your hardware. Many hidden services, as well as seen services, had to be shut down. Sure it was slow in the start, but even the start could be configured to be fast as the startup in Windows 7.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 26, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you, corrected!

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