Official logo of Windows 11, displayed on the default background of the operating system.

Microsoft is bringing DirectStorage and Auto HDR to Windows 11

Microsoft unveiled that they will be bringing over some Xbox technologies to the upcoming Windows 11. The new operating system will support the DirectStorage API and Auto HDR from the get-go. 

The announcement was made during Microsoft’s official announcement event for Windows 11. According to Microsoft, it will be “The best Windows ever for gaming”. Native support for Xbox equipment and the Game Pass for PC program returns, but the OS will also introduce two technologies that were spearheaded by the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Auto HDR grants select games a wider spectrum of colors and shades to work with than they originally knew. Games that never have been optimized for the High Dynamic Range (HDR), can still utilize the wider gamut of HDR displays in a pinch. This will result in a richer, more realistic visual in older games especially.

Screenshot of the Xbox App on Windows 11, one of many gaming features confirmed for the OS.

For the feature to work, either the Xbox team or the developers themselves need to tweak the output settings manually for Auto HDR to be supported. This appears to be a rather simple job, as hundreds of games (ranging from the original Xbox up to Xbox One) already support Auto HDR. 

DirectStorage can mostly be seen as an optimization to NVMe SSDs. The technology drives Xbox Velocity Architecture, and lets SSDs send game data directly to the GPU — without straining the CPU. This results in shorter loading times and more rapid mapping of textures onto objects. If games support it, they should run quicker overall.

Apparently, your Windows 11 system needs to be labelled as “DirectStorage Optimized” for the technology to work. Microsoft didn’t name any specification, but it most likely boils down to a set of required speeds and bandwidths your gaming PC will have to supply. Earlier, Microsoft had once said that DirectStorage would work with PCIe 3.0 generation NVMe SSDs — but the details are still unclear.

A trio of Windows 11 gaming laptops, each displaying a different title found in Xbox Game Pass.

The DirectStorage API and Auto HDR both had already been confirmed to “come to PC gaming” at some point. Now, both technologies are to launch alongside Windows 11, seemingly as an exclusivity. It’s unclear if the features will ever be supported on Windows 10 systems too. Auto HDR ran on Windows 10 in an earlier preview phase, though. 

Windows 11 is expected to launch in the holiday of 2021. Up to at least 2022, all consumers and retailers are offered free upgrades from Windows 10 to Windows 11. 

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