Microsoft is making a very surprising addition to Windows 7 this week, with the support of DirectX 12 for the nearly 10-year-old operating system. While Windows 7 support will end in less than a year and Microsoft will start sending notifications to PCs next month, the company is allowing some game developers to implement DirectX 12. The first game to appear with DirectX 12 support on Windows 7 is Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.
Microsoft heard feedback from Blizzard that features like multi-threading in DirectX 12 were bringing substantial framerate improvements to World of Warcraft on Windows 10. Blizzard wanted these same features on Windows 7, presumably because it still has a large base of players on this older OS. Microsoft originally launched DirectX 12 as part of Windows 10, and has not made it available for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 users.
“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,” explains DirectX program manager Jianye Lu. “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.”
The latest 8.1.5 patch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth enables this support on Windows 7, bringing a framerate boost with it. Other games may also benefit from Microsoft’s change of heart, too. “We are currently working with a few other game developers to port their D3D12 games to Windows 7,” says Lu.
Microsoft has, in the past, used DirectX improvements as a way to push gamers to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. It’s clear this hasn’t worked for World of Warcraft players, but it’s still surprising to see Microsoft add new features to Windows 7 just as it’s starting to encourage everyone to leave the operating system behind.