A few days ago, we reported that Microsoft had apparently decided to keep all of the features in its new DirectX 11.1 3D graphics API as an exclusive for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Server 2012. A Microsoft employee said in an official company forum that Microsoft had no plans to add DirectX 11.1 for Windows 7, and would let users of that OS stick with the older DirectX 11.
Now it looks like Microsoft has had a change of heart, at least in part. In a post on the Games for Windows and the DirectX SDK blog today, the company reveal that it quietly released a way for Windows 7 to get some of the features of DirectX 11.1 as part of Tuesday's preview version of Internet Explorer 10.
The blog states that the update adds these particular DirectX 11.1 features to Windows 7, along with Windows Server 2008 R2:
ID3D11Device1, ID2D1Factory1, IDWriteFactory1, IDXGIFactory2, IWICImagingFactory2, ID3DUserDefinedAnnotation and related APIs are available
Improved Direct3D 11 device interoperability via ID3DDeviceContextState, including the improved interop with Direct2D/DirectWrite
D3D11_FEATURE_DATA_D3D9_OPTIONS feature detection
In addition to the new Windows 8 WIC features, this update also fixes decoding of 96bpp floating-point TIFF images.
The blog points out that these new features are limited to the WDDM 1.1 drivers on Windows 7. Also, quite a few DirectX 11.1 features will continue to be exclusive to Windows 8, including:
Feature Level 11.1 hardware
All D3D11_FEATURE_DATA_D3D11_OPTIONS features for Feature Level 10.x/11.0 devices
16bpp format support (DXGI_FORMAT_B5G6R5_UNORM, DXGI_FORMAT_B5G5R5A1_UNORM, DXGI_FORMAT_B4G4R4A4_UNORM)
Tile-based Deferred Renderer optimizations (D3D11_FEATURE_DATA_ARCHITECTURE_INFO)
HLSL minimum precision shader optimizations (D3D11_FEATURE_SHADER_MIN_PRECISION_SUPPORT)
DXGI 1.2 features for Stereo, Occlusion status notifications, Desktop Duplication, and NT Handle shared resources
Windows Store app ICoreWindow features of DXGI 1.2
WARP support for Feature Levels 11.0 and 11.1
Direct3D hardware support in Session 0
The DirectComposition API
Thanks to DX11.1 for the tip!