Old Dog, Old Tricks – MS Locks DirectX 11.1 To Win 8

I had to sign 14 forms in triplicate before Microsoft would release this press shot

It’s been a while since Microsoft pulled the ol’ ‘oh no, this new version of DirectX couldn’t possibly work on earlier versions of Windows’ scamgasm, but as the relatively friendly age of Windows 7 is overshadowed by the dawning of the firm’s desperate desire to make Windows 8 a cross-platform goliath/software shop, an old habit has returned. The next version of DirectX might be a purely iterative one, but if you ever look a game that requires DirectX 11.1 you’ll be looking at a game that won’t run on Windows 7 or earlier.

While a similar state of affairs with DX10 and Vista raised a lot of hackles at the time, at least in that instance Vista was a pretty significant change from XP, whereas Win 8 is very much Win 7 with coloured square-shaped bits on top, so it’s going to be that much harder to swallow any claimed technical reasoning for the ringfencing of DX11.1.

11.1 sounds as though it’s predominantly efficiency improvements rather than shiny new features, but a guess that might be enough to ensure a DX11.1 game isn’t entirely easily reworked into DX11. But I must bow to the wisdom of the crowds there – if anyone has any smart theories about what 11.1’s new stuff actually means for PC games that use it, please do share them below and educate me.

The most obvious addition is native stereoscopic 3D support, which would mean DX11.1 games can do the funny glasses thing on any supporting graphics card rather than requiring separate functionality for NVIDIA and ATI. Given 3D is very much a niche element in PC gaming it doesn’t sound like any great loss – but again, the essential issue is whether a game made for DX11.1 will also include a DX11.0 mode. If not, some of us may feel forced into upgrading to an OS we don’t necessarily want (and I personally can’t stand, on a desktop PC at least) if we want to keep up with all the Shader-Joneses.

The revelation about DX11.1’s 8iness came about somewhat obliquely, in the form of an MS staffer claiming it to be so in a tech support thread. “DirectX 11.1 is part of Windows 8, just like DirectX 11 was part of Windows 7. DirectX 11 was made available for Vista, but at this point there is no plan for DirectX 11.1 to be made available on Windows 7.” It’s not impossible he’s wrong, or that MS simply haven’t made Win 7 DX 11.1 yet, but it’s cause for concern for those of us who are otherwise perfectly happy with snappy, stable, familiar Win 7.


  1. alilsneaky says:

    11.1 confirmed to be the new 10.1 then.
    No game is ever going to make any use of it, ever.

    MS being dicks , news at eleven (point one).

    • Solidstate89 says:

      If you know the history of 10.1, you should know for a fact that there is no comparison between that and this 11.1 release.

  2. soldant says:

    I doubt anybody’s really going to care, as lots of others have said DX9 is still very well supported and DX11 support isn’t going away. The entire “Valve will save us with Linux!” stuff presumes that all the other publishers will come on board, and they might not. Whether Valve are going to be met with any success with Steam on Linux still remains to be seen.

    As for locking into Win8 – I find it a bit curious. The DX10 on Vista thing had a technical reason – it was tied strongly to the new WDDM, it wasn’t an arbitrary decision. The utter failure to port DX10 to XP should have proven that to any of the doubters. But I don’t yet see why DX11.1 is tied to Win8, that seems more like an arbitrary decision than a technical one.

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  4. sabrage says:

    If this ever effects me in any way, I’ll pirate W8.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      There is a $39.99 upgrade offer on right now, in case you don’t feel like breaking the law.

      • Xzi says:

        For me it would be an issue of principle, not cost. Windows 8 is terrible, so I choose to vote against it with my wallet. If enough people do that, they’re supposed to take notice and fix where they went wrong, not say, “nope, fuck you. You’ll have to buy it anyway.”

        Personally I was never much of a fan of capitalism, but somehow Micro$oft has managed to circumvent what little good there was in it to begin with.

        It’s kind of like saying, “look at this new exhaust pipe for your car! It’s great! Technically it kinda…uhm, reduces your car’s MPG by 10, but still! Oh…and your car will no longer run without it after 2013. Enjoy!”

  5. Melf_Himself says:

    Microsoft are evil.
    Pirating software from evil companies is ok.

  6. Miltrivd says:

    I’m hoping all this crap Microsoft is doing will end up boosting Linux and OpenGL, they need work to be able to compete in a massive scale, this could bring the necessary attention to both.

    • soldant says:

      When Vista came out, people were saying it was going to be the best thing for Linux – lots of people ranted about how they would switch and how it was the end of Microsoft. Nothing happened. The changes in Win8 will be refined in Win9 and people will forget about it. It’s been like that with pretty much every major Windows release. Yes, even Windows XP – when it first came out people bitched about it to no end.

      • LionsPhil says:

        What we actually need is for a desktop competitor to make another surge in popularity to spook Microsoft.

        The best thing Torvalds and Jobs ever did for us was scaring Redmond into dropping the 9X line and getting a wiggle on with XP.

      • varangian says:

        I don’t think ‘nothing happened’ is exactly correct. Vista went down like a bucket of warm spit with business – which is what MS cares about most as the never-ending cycle of license upgrades is a huge earner – and they quickly replaced Vista with Win7, far faster than they would have done if it had been any good. Pure Linux desktop adoption has increased significantly, albeit from a low base, and when you factor in derivatives like Android for mobiles and tablets it’s now a significant player. A lot of that came about because MS dropped a bollock with Vista.

        Anyone who doesn’t play games and hasn’t got a lot of past effort invested in MS software would, nowadays, be mad not to try Ubuntu or Mint as they do few things worse than Windows and a surprising number of things better. The roadblock for many, including myself, is gaming. I likes me some games so although I use Linux all day in the evening I’ll often be booting up Win7 for playtime. But if Valve get Steam and a significant bunch of games working on Linux then I’ll be saying goodbye to the eternal MS upgrade cycle that raids my bank account every few years.

      • D3xter says:

        link to steamlinux.flibitijibibo.com
        link to steamlinux.flibitijibibo.com

        For that matter, I’m not sure how you people can’t see the difference between a few driver troubles and a few features that might piss some people off and a SYSTEMATIC MOVE to close down one of the most popular OS out there and trying to corner and monopolize a lot of markets with its integrated App Store.

        I NEVER bashed Vista, I thought it was pretty good actually and used it from rather early on. As said, most of the troubles were due to driver vendors (like Creative for instance) not being ready.
        Just as much I’m NEVER going to touch Windows 8, I’d rather switch to Linux and actually installed Ubuntu in dual-boot on my Laptop this time around, and I’m being rather serious here.
        Also hell will freeze over before I introduce it in some of the hundred-people companies where I have any say on the matter, although a move to Linux is just as unlikely, the official stance for now is to wait for the next version of Windows and see how that develops.

  7. MordeaniisChaos says:

    *sigh* Well, at least I’m one of the few people who isn’t bitching blindly about Windows 8, which is actually better than Windows 7 in almost every way (Admit it, you never fuckin used the start menu, and if you did, you didn’t even use Windows 7’s best features). Not defending this if it’s true, which by the way, this article should have a much better title, because it sounds like this is just some guy saying something that vaguely sounds like it’s W8 only. No official statement is mentioned in the article, yet the article title is just a statement that 11.1 is locked to Windows 8.
    We get it, you’re a bunch of idiots whining about a snappier, better OS with a greatly improved explorer and other neat features, and a useless feature turned into a slightly more useful feature that somehow offends your delicate minds. You still need to be clear about what is really happening.

    • mrmalodor says:

      I use the start menu and so do tens of millions of people every day. So I dunno which universe you live in. Judging by your idiotic rant, not ours.

      • Deuteronomy says:

        Really, you use the start menu for something other than search? How curiously odd. If you don’t like win 8 than keep using win 7, or go compile a kernel or whatever. No use being an unthinking kneejerk reactionary over something as silly as the size and shape of a start menu.

        • Xzi says:

          The loss of the start menu would be no problem at all if they had created something even halfway decent to replace it. Tiles are for tablets. Windows 8 is for tablets. Anyone using Win8 on their desktop PC is borderline tech-illiterate. That, or they never use their PC for anything productive. Just dicking around on Facebook with so many other mouth breathers.

          But hey, at least you’re supporting a trend towards a closed-platform OS. So way to go.

          • soldant says:

            Wow, what an attitude. You must have worked on the Intel 8086 to be able to make a statement like that, right? Yeah, everyone’s a mouth breather unless they live in a terminal.

          • El_Emmental says:

            I like how people loving Win8 think there isn’t a possible device (and its adequate UI) between a tablet/touchscreen and a terminal. Laptop and desktop still exist, hundreds of millions of them, actually.

            The start menu is fine, as you can customize it quite a lot, and when changed back to an XP-like interface (without any graphical shiny effects), it is running much faster (especially if you don’t have an expensive rig) than any other interface (beside terminal), so you can very rapidly go to a very specific folder/submenu without ending up clicking too early, or having to wait for each sub-menu to open before making the next movemement.

            It is crucial if you need to change settings, access specific Windows services, or launch many different programs, in a very short period of time – things most “people” don’t do on a weekly basis. Some other people still need to do that.

            The start menu (among other things Win8 removed) is not as fast as a terminal (far from that), it’s not as “user-friendly” as a touchscreen tile-based interface, but it is a very good middle ground UI: people using computers on a daily basis for profesionnal purposes will often accept to learn to use that UI, but won’t go as far as learning to use a terminal UI.

            There is a UI for every type of user. The reason why people are mad at Win8 is because Microsoft seems to refuse to provide a professionnal interface for the average worker.

            It is obvious Microsoft will provide a more “classic” UI to his Pro versions (otherwise companies will just refuse to upgrade, training their employee again for little to no productivity gains is a big no no), the issue with the Win8 UI is their refusal to let “Home” user (or even available in stores Pro) get a standard UI.

            And the DirectX bullcrap they keep pulling, by blatantly lying about the upgrades and OpenGL, and making sure devs never ever touch OpenGL, is just the icing on the cake.

  8. TechnicalBen says:

    Wow. Lots (LOTS) of comments this sparked. I’ll just chime in and say… Oh, what’s this in my pocket? A Distro of Linux (I have big pockets)? Steam being ported as I type? Sorry, what is this Windows people talk of? I think it’s something I’ll stop using very very soon. :)

  9. fish99 says:

    Since the head of windows has just left his job, are we to assume that early Win8 sales have been catastrophic?

    • El_Emmental says:

      I don’t really think so, it mostly has to do with the man being a jerk at the office and getting kicked out by a group of angry executives tired of his “I’m the new Steve Jobs, I do what I want, I can fire anyone” behaviour.

      He was also frequently *unfriendly* with developers and profesionnals criticizing some of his decisions – that’s not something you want from your main executive, smooth talking is the rule when dealing with customers/business partners.

      The people replacing him (and replacing the people replacing him, etc) directly worked on Win8 and its UI, they’re not changing anything to their plans.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      No, no we are not. 4 million downloads in 3 days is not to be scoffed at.

      By the way, having not commented on RPS for several years, I assumed that the UI would have improved at least somewhat since then. How come no one is bitterly complaining about the the horror that is the RPS comment box?

      • varangian says:

        Probably because nobody expects us to pay for the RPS comment box…

        • El_Emmental says:

          You got it for free ? Lucky chap, I paid 30 quids for it and they even said it was on discount !

          … you still pay the 10 pennies per comment, right ?

  10. captain nemo says:

    Do not want pc as tarted-up-xbox rubbish.

    Looks like I’m going to learn Linux

    • iniudan says:

      For your first step I suggest Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop, if you want something that simple to use while keeping familiar looking graphical interface, with good selection of administrative right available from it (shouldn’t require command line for home usage), and is available with pre-installed proprietatary multimedia codec (has to let’s you play thing like mp3 out of the box), and since it is Ubuntu based documentation is decent (still not the documentation quality of Arch or Fedora, but Arch is for enthusiast, while Fedora is basically the testing ground for Red Hat, so those two tend to have lot of the newest toy which basically mean they are never fully stable)

  11. Morte66 says:

    * smiles quietly and enjoys the speed and improved memory management of Windows 8, happily ignoring the GUI and store *