DirectX 11 is the a collection of APIs (application programming interfaces) for handling tasks related to graphics and multimedia, especially in game and video, on Windows and Microsoft platforms. Examples of DirectX API includes Direct3D, DirectDraw, DirectWrite, Direct2D, DirectMusic, DirectPlay, DirectCompute and DirectSound. DirectX runtime is essential component of Windows which allows software application to take advantage of the enhanced and latest technology in graphic processing unit (GPU).
DirectX 11 is incorporated and bundled in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 directly, without requiring any update to be installed. Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 runs on DirectX 10 by default, and can now upgrade to DirectX 11 runtime, through a platform Update for Windows Server 2008 and the Platform Update which contains collections of runtime libraries that make it easy for developers to target a wider customer base, and establish DirectX 11 as base standard.
DirectX 11 features DirectCompute for GPGPU hardware accelerate parallel computing scenarios support, hardware tessellation support, hardware acceleration for 2D, 3D and text-based scenarios support, and improved multi-threading support to better utilize multi-core processors. DirectX 11 also adds XPS Library for document printing scenarios.
Direct X 11 also has full backward-compatibility with DirectX 9, DirectX 9Ex, DirectX 10 and DirectX 10.1, where multi-threaded resource handling can be supported on Direct3D 9/10/10.1-class hardware. Direct3D 11 is a strict superset of Direct3D 10.1, where all hardware and API features of version 10.1 are retained, and new features are added only when necessary for exposing new functionality.
DirectX 11 is released via Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library KB971512 update for Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2. The easiest way to upgrade and install DirectX 11 is through Windows Update, but the standalone setup installers for KB971512 are also available for free download via Microsoft Download Center.
Download Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library (with DirectX 11) KB971512 Update
KB971512 for Windows Vista, x64-based versions: Windows6.0-KB971512-x64.msu
The Platform Update for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista (KB971644) also contains update and enhancement to the following technologies, all of which can be installed via Windows Update and has standalone update package available for download on Microsoft Download Center (available via KB links):
- Windows Automation API (KB971513) – enables accessibility tools and test automations to access the Windows user interface in a consistent way across operating system versions.
- Windows Portable Devices Platform (KB971514) – supplies the infrastructure to standardize data transfers between an application and a portable device, such as a mobile phone, a digital camera, or a portable media player.
- Windows Ribbon and Animation Manager Library (KB960362) – contains the following features of Windows Ribbon API, a command framework that enables developers to quickly and easily create rich ribbon experiences in their applications, and Windows Animation Manager API, an animation framework for managing the scheduling and execution of user interface element animations.
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