DirectX is Microsoft's application programming interface developed to facilitate complex multimedia-related tasks, especially game and video programming.
Microsoft can claim to have monopolised the world of PC gaming by introducing it into the Windows operating system. By downloading DirectX, an application programming interface, the user gets direct access to the system hardware, facilitating multimedia tasks such as game and video programming.
The origins of DirectX
Before Windows 95 came onto the market, playing computer games on a PC was an arduous task. Firstly, DOS had to be booted in order to access the system hardware, using specific configuration files such as config.sys or autoexec.bat. And all this in addition to several boot disks.
But always quick to detect the needs of the user, Microsoft found a way to offer game developers a tool for direct access to hardware resources in Windows.
Thus, in June 1996 the first version of DirectX was born, available for Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Although it got off to a slow start, the popularity of downloading DirectX began increasing. However, there were competitors such as OpenGL, which earned a good reputation. The advantages of its interface were a more efficient use of hardware, a standard multi-platform royalty-free API and no restriction to a single operating system, as was the case with DirectX and Windows.
With its pros and cons, downloading DirectX has since become the most common option. This is because Windows remains the most popular operating system on computer desktops. This is in addition to other uses, such as the Xbox One.
What you get when you download DirectX
When you download DirectX, you get a collection of APIs that have been developed to facilitate multimedia tasks related to computer and video game programming on Microsoft Windows.
An API is an application programming interface. This is a series of subroutines, methods, and functions for developers of games and other content. It works as a programming library that is used as an abstraction layer by other software.
Inclusion in the Windows operating systems and the Xbox Ecosystem has allowed it to gain a monopoly in PC gaming. Currently, the latest available version of OpenGL, Vulkan, is its direct competitor. However, DirectX is still the benchmark on personal computers, since Windows has a greater presence here than Linux or OS X.
The APIs you get when you download DirectX
- Direct 3D. The most popular API, used for three-dimensional graphics programming and processing.
- Direct Input. Processes data from the mouse, keyboard, joystick and other controls for computer games.
- Direct Play. Used in network communications.
- Direct Graphics. This allows images to be drawn in two flat dimensions, as well as the representation of these in three dimensions.
- Direct Music. Plays music tracks composed with the Direct Music Producer.
- Direct Sound. Plays and records soundwaves.
- Direct Show. Plays video and audio with network transparency.
- Direct Compute. It offers special jargon and instructions that allow different processing threads in the massive core processors to be handled.
- Direct Setup. It allows you to install other DirectX components.
- Direct ML. Performs artificial intelligence or AI processing, as well as other features. These have been added in the 2019 update for Windows 10.
- DirectX Raytracing. Also called DXR, this is a feature that allows for real-time hardware ray tracing. It delivers a breakthrough in consumer-level computer graphics on GPUs, such as the Nvidia GeForce 20 series in 2018. This feature will not be available when downloading DirectX in its latest version but is an extension compatible with DirectX 12.
The 2018 Windows 10 update included the public version of DirectX Raytracing. Although developed exclusively for Windows, it has also been developed in open source for Linux Unix systems, and for Wine HP, the X Window System.
DirectX 12: the latest version available by downloading DirectX
Please note when downloading DirectX that not all versions of Windows offer the same compatibility. Therefore, it is necessary to check each version. The main differences are between Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7, compared to previous versions.
A specific optimisation that improves performance is included when downloading DirectX 12. It takes advantage of the existing system resources, especially in the CPUs, by using more than four cores for processing and several multi-GPU configurations.
However, the initial reception was not as expected, and it was necessary to wait for subsequent updates for the advantages to become noticeable. The problem with downloading DirectX 12 has been the complexity of extracting its full potential, especially in memory management and multi-GPU, as well as technology that enables asynchronous computing.
How to know which version of DirectX you are using
Using the system's search engine or with the tool 'execute' tool (Windows + R) and the 'dxdiag' command, the diagnosis can be accessed. The system tab indicates which is the latest version installed, as well as the latest driver or DX parameters activated.
In any case, it is perfectly feasible to have different versions installed, as each game uses a different one. As an example, if a developer used a DirectX 11 update for a game, it will not work with higher versions. When installing new games, the versions of the APIs are updated.
To download DirectX in its latest version, you must know in advance which version of Windows you are working with. From Windows 8, Microsoft includes the APIs in the operating system. And Windows version 8.1 offers support for up to DirectX 11.2, and as with Windows 10, there is no regular manual download. The latter works exclusively with DirectX 12, and can be accessed from Windows Update, through the tab Update Settings > Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates.
For Windows 7, the latest version supported is 11.1. It can be updated manually or with Windows Update and is available with the service pack or in the update KB2670838. For older versions, Microsoft maintains a specific page for downloads.
When downloading DirectX in its latest version, developers have the option of adding different high visual impact graphic effects. GeForce graphics cards also enable special features such as shading and ray tracing for realistic effects and much higher frame rates.
In short, its acceptance by developers has been good, which reduces costs and consumption and improves the use of available resources and performance, even when integrating widely used frameworks such as .NET.
As an alternative DirectX we can find OpenGL. It is a software very similar to DirectX but with different specifications.