Microsoft Brings DirectX 12 to Windows 7 … For Some Reason

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Windows, Windows 10 with 15 Comments

Windows 7 is heading off into the support sunset soon. So why on earth would Microsoft suddenly add support for DirectX 12?

It’s not entirely clear. But a new post to the DirectX Developers Blog notes that game developer Blizzard asked Microsoft to let it use DirectX 12—which was previously limited to just Windows 10—in Windows 7.

“At Microsoft, we make every effort to respond to customer feedback, so when we received this feedback from Blizzard and other developers, we decided to act on it,” the post explains. “Microsoft is pleased to announce that we have ported the user mode D3D12 runtime to Windows 7. This unblocks developers who want to take full advantage of the latest improvements in D3D12 while still supporting customers on older operating systems.”

And with that, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has become the first game to utilize DirectX 12 on Windows 7. Microsoft says that this change will result in higher frame rates, though it’s even better on Windows 10. Because of course it is.

“Windows 10 has critical OS improvements which make modern low-level graphics APIs (including DirectX 12) run more efficiently,” Microsoft claims. “If you enjoy your favorite games running with DirectX 12 on Windows 7, you should check how those games run even better on Windows 10.”

Aside from the general “why” on the timing, the other big question is whether this is a one-off deal. Will Microsoft allow other games to use DirectX 12 on Windows 7?

“We are currently working with a few other game developers to port their D3D12 games to Windows 7,” the post notes. “Please watch out for further announcement.”

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft Brings DirectX 12 to Windows 7 … For Some Reason”

  1. Demileto

    Blizzard supported World of Warcraft in Windows XP long after the OS ended its lifecycle, it took Windows Vista also meeting its EoL for them to cut loose. WoW running under DirectX 12 in Windows 7 helps Blizzard enormously, allows them to shift to DX12 for WoW entirely well before they're ready to cut support for the old OS.

  2. solomonrex

    I'm guessing something to do with the Asian market, piracy and secret payments via WoW Gold stuffed into executives' Blizzard accounts, where, I assume, they all play as Orcs in business suits.

  3. dontbe evil

    butbut ms is pushing only win10

  4. hometoy

    Of course they want everybody to go to Windows 10, but it only recently surpassed Windows 7 in usage and that means there is a pocket of potential customers that will probably not move from Windows 7 before the year is out.

  5. Patrick3D

    I could see them having approved this to keep older computers in the Microsoft ecosystem rather than have those customers leave for Linux considering the work Valve has put into getting Windows games to run on SteamOS. Better to have a happy customer than a bitter one. Eventually those customers will want to buy a new PC and may consider finally making the upgrade to Windows 10.

  6. Stooks

    Driving the advancement of DX12, which is good, on pirated copies of Windows 7.

    Blizzard probably wants to move to DX12 and they know there are lots of people using Windows 7 because it is easy to pirate and so they probably paid Microsoft to do this.

  7. datameister

    "This unblocks developers who want to take full advantage of the latest improvements in D3D12 while still supporting customers on stable operating systems.”

    Fixed that for you.

  8. skane2600

    For the most part Windows 10 is just Windows 7 with a different UI and new UWP API's, so adding DirectX 12 was probably pretty simple.

  9. Rycott

    Because Windows 7 still has a huge user-base and it may help push some adoption till it is EOL? DX12 games are still pretty rare at the moment.

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  11. IanYates82

    Could it also be that their 'Edigum' browser will take advantage of DX12 to some extent, so this effort was helpful on that front too?

  12. sevenacids

    Well, support for a DirectX release is mostly a job of the hardware manufacturers/driver developers. They have to implement these APIs natively. A hug part of it is realized in silicon on the GPU. Just like the Vulkan or OpenGL APIs, for example. There is little work on the kernel/OS side, so I don't think the runtime implementation for a specific operating system is key here. IMO, DirectX 12 on Windows 10 only is just a marketing decision. Just like DirectX 10 was Vista only.

  13. justme

    " when we received this feedback from Blizzard and other developers, we decided to act on it,”

    I think that is your answer to the question of whether or not other games will be allowed to use DX12 on Windows 7. If other developers are asking, other games must be in the mix somewhere.

    My question, of course, is why? I have to assume there was some sort of financial gain on Microsoft's part to do this, but honestly, why NOW for an OS that has less than 12 months of support left in it? Unless they are perhaps thinking that there is a large number of WIndows 7 PCs out there that cant be upgraded to W10 and Blizzard et al are really pusing Microsoft to maintain their own profits...? Or is the idea that gamers gonna game, regardless if the OS they are using is supported officially or not. There has to be SOME sort of motivation for Microsoft in it, because the message they are (I am sure unintentionally) sending is that Windows 7 is still a viable platform.

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