Windows 11 was officially announced by Microsoft yesterday, and there is a clear focus on streamlining the OS without radical changes. Microsoft’s announcement was a surprise for most, and the company earlier had indicated a subscription model with Windows 10, essentially ending the release cycle. Windows 10 users not keen on upgrading their OS can rest easy as Microsoft has promised updates for the platform till late 2025. While the average user won’t miss out on much, there are some radical features for gamers baked in Windows 11. Microsoft is essentially using their Xbox expertise to make gaming better on Windows, and we discuss some of this below:
Auto HDR for games
HDR functionality has caught on in the last few years, and displays supporting the feature have increasingly become more mainstream with reduced prices. HDR essentially increases brightness and contrast to bring more depth to picture quality, and well-made HDR content on a supported display can make your viewing experience better. Sadly not all games support HDR, especially the older titles.
Games will look better than ever thanks to Auto HDR, a unique capability we’re offering with Windows 11 which automatically adds High Dynamic Range (HDR) enhancements to games built on DirectX 11 or higher that previously only leveraged Standard Dynamic Range (SDR).
Microsoft tried to fix the problem with an auto HDR mode on the new Series S/X consoles, and it works very well. This is the exact feature being ported over to Windows 11 now, and games built for DirectX 11/12 are supported. Microsoft uses specialized algorithms to achieve this effect, and while this might not be as good as a native implementation, it’s surely better than SDR on supported displays.
DirectStorage for Windows 11
The next-gen consoles are great for the price, but high-end PCs will still outmatch them, except in load times where these consoles have a clear advantage. Anyone, enthusiasts and casual games alike are bound to notice the seamless nature of the gameplay in these consoles. The consoles can achieve this with fast PCI 4.0 rated NVMe drives and improving the core architecture.
With DirectStorage, which will only be available with Windows 11, games can quickly load assets to the graphics card without bogging down the CPU. This means you’ll get to experience incredibly detailed game worlds rendered at lightning speeds, without long load times. “DirectStorage Optimized” Windows 11 PCs are configured with the hardware and drivers needed to enable this amazing experience.
Computers can’t replicate this yet, and this is not because the hardware doesn’t exist. Even with similar console spec hardware, the results aren’t the same due to I/O limitations. Microsoft is finally addressing this with Direct storage on Windows 11, which can help gaming computers match load times with consoles.
Unfortunately, the hardware requirements for this are quite steep. DirectStorage uses a DirectX 12 Ultimate API, and support for this is limited to newer RTX 20 and 30 series cards, also RDNA 2 cards for AMD. Users will also need a 1TB NVMe SSD drive.
Deeper Integration with Xbox App
Game Pass is hands down the best game subscription service yet, and it has a substantial subscriber base on PC. With Windows 11, Microsoft will bake the Xbox app into the OS for easier access. Microsoft also announced the arrival of Xbox Cloud Gaming for Windows PC, so even players with weaker hardware have a lot to look forward to.