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DirectStorage won't be a Windows 11 exclusive after all
[Image: microsoft-windows-game.png]

icrosoft revealed new gaming features for its Xbox consoles back in September 2020. DirectX 12 Ultimate would be coming to the system as well as the new DirectStorage API. The API, designed to "vastly reduce load times" of games, would also come to Windows PCs.

In June 2020, Microsoft revealed that DirectStorage will be a Windows 11 exclusive. Windows 11 is Microsoft's next version of Windows, which the company plans to make available later this year (a leak suggests in October 2021).

Now, one month later, Microsoft appears to have had a change of heart. On its DirectX developer blog, Microsoft confirms that DirectStorage will also be supported by its Windows 10 operating system.
Quote:Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers adopt a new API, they can reach as many gamers as possible. As such, games built against the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and up; the same as the DirectX 12 Agility SDK.

DirectStorage will be supported by Windows 10 version 1909 and later. Microsoft notes that Windows 11 was designed with DirectStorage in mind, and that some optimizations are only available for devices running Windows 11.
Quote:Storage stack optimizations: On Windows 11, this consists of an upgraded OS storage stack that unlocks the full potential of DirectStorage, and on Windows 10, games will still benefit from the more efficient use of the legacy OS storage stack.

It is not clear how noticeable the advantage of Windows 11 is in this regard, as Microsoft did not provide benchmarks or details on the differences.

PCs need fast NVMe storage devices to get the most out of DirectStorage. PCs with older storage devices, e.g. platter-based hard drives or slower Solid State Drives, won't get the benefits of the new technology but will run "as well as they always have" according to Microsoft.

For developers, it is necessary to implement DirectStorage in their games. All benefits that the technology brings are applied automatically and "scaled appropriately for gamers" according to Microsoft.

Microsoft did not reveal when the feature will become available on Windows 10 devices. Potential target releases are the next feature update, Windows 10 version 21H2, which will also be released later this year, or the first feature update of 2022, Windows 10 version 22H1, which will be released in the first half of 2022.

Closing Words

Locking gaming features to specific versions of the operating system did not work out well for Microsoft in the past. Older gamers may remember the Vista exclusive DirectX 10 and how that move did not work out as planned for the company. Most gaming companies continued to focus on DirectX 9 and thus support for Windows XP, while only a handful of DirectX 10 exclusive games were created.

For quick adoption of DirectStorage, Microsoft needs game developer and publisher support. A Windows 11 exclusive DirectStorage feature could have prevented wider adoption in the critical first year of introduction. The inclusion of Windows 10 makes it more attractive to developers and should guarantee wider adoption of the feature.

Now You: do you game on PCs? Will you benefit from DirectStorage?
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