Windows 11's most exciting gaming feature is coming to Windows 10

Windows 11's most exciting gaming feature is coming to Windows 10
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 will offer major benefits to gamers, including Auto HDR, DirectStorage and better Xbox Game Pass integration. DirectStorage, which speeds up SSD load times in games, is arguably the most substantial feature of the three. 

If you’ve been debating whether to upgrade to Windows 11 so that your games can take full advantage of DirectStorage, however, you may be able to hold off. The feature will officially make its way to Windows 10, and should be available as soon as developers begin to implement it.

Information comes from the Microsoft DirectX Developer Blog, where Hassan Uraizee, program manager at Microsoft, laid out the details on the DirectStorage Developer Preview. Uraizee acknowledged that DirectStorage could improve gaming on Windows 11, but then shared some new information as well: DirectStorage will be available on Windows 10, provided that you’re using at least version 1909. (Windows 10, Version 1909 is already two years old; if you keep your computer even mildly up to date, you should be able to take advantage of the new technology.)

Furthermore, there’s no hard release date for DirectStorage in Windows 10 games. According to Uraizee, gamers could theoretically start using the feature as soon as developers start implementing it. Since DirectStorage is still in previews right now, interested parties need to contact Microsoft’s storage team and share their project details. That means the timeline is entirely dependent on how quickly developers can integrate the new technology — and how quickly Microsoft can approve it.

The rest of Uraizee’s post is fairly technical, discussing how DirectStorage leverages GPU decompression and how DirectX 12 handles I/O requests.  The bottom line is that DirectStorage can help make GPUs more efficient in both loading and managing in-game assets, which is why it could have a significant impact on SSD load times in video games.

There is one interesting tidbit toward the end of the post, however:

“In fact, this great compatibility extends to a variety of different hardware configurations as well,” Uraizee writes. “DirectStorage enabled games will still run as well as they always have even on PCs that have older storage hardware (e.g. HDDs).”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that DirectStorage will make games on HDDs faster. But it does mean that implementing DirectStorage technology won’t have any adverse effects on less powerful PCs. That’s good news for gamers who were concerned that Windows 11 upgrades might hamper older systems.

Still, even with DirectStorage available on Windows 10, there may still be gaming-related reasons to upgrade to Windows 11. Auto HDR still seems to be Windows 11-exclusive, at least for now. Uraizee also points out that “Windows 11 will further benefit from new storage stack optimizations.”

As for how much of a practical effect these technologies have, we’ll have to wait for a developer to implement them, then run comparison tests on both Windows 10 and Windows 11. In the meantime, if you haven’t upgraded to an SSD in your gaming PC, now is probably the time.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.