DirectStorage is one of the three major PC gaming features coming to Windows 11, but despite calling it operating system exclusive around the announcement of the next operating system, Microsoft has now confirmed that it will also be compatible with Windows 10.
In Sarah Bond's article on the new operating system as the "best Windows for gaming," Microsoft's corporate vice president of gaming explicitly states that DirectStorage "will only be available with Windows 11." But a new release from the DirectX developer blog has announced the availability of a preview for the DirectStorage API developers, and in this regard, Hassan Uraizee explains that the SDK will be compatible with Windows 10 from version 1909 and later.
“Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers adopt a new API, they can reach as many gamers as possible,” Uraizee writes. "As such, games created with the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and later; the same as the DirectX 12 Agility SDK."
The promise of DirectStorage is that it streamlines the way game data is processed, taking advantage of the modern storage hardware of our gaming computers. Using NVMe SSDs, the DirectStorage API aims to reduce game load times and support the huge open world games of our dreams, ensuring that texture and other data is added to the world beyond your vision instead of appearing in front of your face.
It plans to do this by largely avoiding the processor and quickly loading the items onto the graphics card, reducing CPU usage and with the intention of improving system performance.
Uraizee breaks down the features of DirectStorage at these points:
- The new DirectStorage API programming model that provides a DX12-style batch send / end call pattern, relieving applications of the need to individually handle thousands of OI requests / end notifications for second.
- GPU decompression that provides very fast asset decompression for load and transmission time scenarios (in a later preview).
- Storage stack optimizations: In Windows 11, it consists of an updated operating system storage stack that unlocks the full potential of DirectStorage, and in Windows 10, games will still benefit from the most efficient use of the stack legacy operating system storage
It's a really exciting technology, which has been incorporated into the new Xbox Series X / S consoles, and we could not see any reason, it should only be closed to those who upgrade to Windows 11. finally, the new operating system began life as a major feature update for Windows 10, so the barriers seem to be purely arbitrary if applied.
But broader compatibility should mean more players have access to the feature, but the wider user base should also encourage developers and publishers to ensure that DirectStorage is considered for new and existing projects.
“This means that any DirectStorage-based game will benefit from the new programming model and GPU decompression technology in Windows 10, version 1909 and later,” he reiterates. "Also, because Windows 11 was created with DirectStorage in mind, games running on Windows 11 benefit more from new storage stack optimizations."
But developers will only need to implement the new feature once in the game, as the SDK itself will control what aspects of DirectStorage are available for your system without you or the developer having to do anything to make it work properly for in your configuration.
Having DirectStorage enabled in a game will also not prevent those who are still tied to hard drives from accessing any particular title. “DirectStorage-enabled games will continue to work just as well, even on computers with older storage hardware (e.g., hard drives),” concludes Uraizee.