Direct3D (the 3D graphics API within DirectX) is widely used in the development of computer games for Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox, and Microsoft Xbox 360. Direct3D is also used by other software applications for visualization and graphics tasks. In CAD/CAM engineering, for instance, it rivals the OpenGL by its ability to quickly render 3D graphics on DirectX-compatible graphics hardware. As Direct3D is the most widely publicized component of DirectX, it is common to see the names "DirectX" and "Direct3D" used interchangeably.
The DirectX software development kit (SDK) consists of runtime libraries in redistributable binary form, along with accompanying documentation and headers for use in coding. Originally, the runtimes were only installed by games or explicitly by the user. Windows 95 did not launch with DirectX, but DirectX was included with Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2. Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 both shipped with DirectX, as has every version of Windows released since. The SDK is available as a free download. While the runtimes are proprietary, closed-source software, source code is provided for most of the SDK samples.
The latest versions of Direct3D, namely, Direct3D 10 and Direct3D 9Ex, are only officially available for Windows Vista, because each of these new versions were built to depend upon the new Windows Display Driver Model that was introduced for Windows Vista. The new Vista/WDDM graphics architecture includes a new video memory manager that supports virtualizing graphics hardware to multiple applications and services such as the Desktop Window Manager
The components comprising DirectX are
As of April 2005 DirectShow is no longer a part of the DirectX API. It now comes bundled along with the Platform SDK.
DirectX functionality is provided in the form of COM-style objects and interfaces. Additionally, while not DirectX components themselves, managed objects have been built on top of some parts of DirectX, such as managed Direct3D 9.and the XNA graphics library
A major update to DirectX API, DirectX 10 ships with and is only available with Windows Vista; previous versions of Windows such as Windows XP are not able to officially run DirectX 10-exclusive applications.. Changes for DirectX 10 were extensive.
Many former parts of DirectX API were deprecated in the latest DirectX SDK and will be preserved for compatibility only: DirectInput was deprecated in favor of XInput, DirectSound was deprecated in favor of XACT and lost support for hardware accelerated audio, since Vista audio stack renders sound in software on the CPU. The DirectPlay DPLAY.DLL was also removed and was replaced with dplayx.dll; games that rely on this DLL must duplicate it and rename it to dplay.dll.
In order to achieve backwards compatibility, DirectX in Windows Vista contains several versions of Direct3D:
Direct3D 10.1 is an incremental update of Direct3D 10.0 which is shipped with, and requires, Windows Vista Service Pack 1. This release mainly sets a few more image quality standards for graphics vendors, while giving developers more control over image quality. It also adds support for parallel cube mapping and requires that the video card supports Shader Model 4.1 or higher and 32-bit floating-point operations. Direct3D 10.1 still fully supports Direct3D 10 hardware, but in order to utilize all of the new features, updated hardware is required. As of June 25, 2008, only the ATI Radeon HD3xxx and HD48xx series of GPUs are fully compliant. Recent NVIDIA GPUs support many, but not all of the new features in DirectX 10.1.
The very first versions of DirectX (1-3) did not support hardware acceleration at all. Each DirectDraw and Direct3D API call had to go through the Windows GDI, and DirectSound was simply acting as an API wrapper for the 16-bit MMSOUND.DRV device driver. In later versions, hardware acceleration is supported, and many new components have been added. DirectSound 3D was introduced in DirectX as an extension of DirectSound.
In a console-specific version, DirectX was used as a basis for Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 console API. The API was developed jointly between Microsoft and Nvidia, who developed the custom graphics hardware used by the original Xbox. The Xbox API is similar to DirectX version 8.1, but is non-updateable like other console technologies. The Xbox was code named DirectXbox, but this was shortened to Xbox for its commercial name. In 2002 Microsoft released DirectX 9 with support for the use of much longer shader programs than before with pixel and vertex shader version 2.0. Microsoft has continued to update the DirectX suite since then, introducing shader model 3.0 in DirectX 9.0c, released in August 2004. As of April 2005, DirectShow was removed from DirectX and moved to the Microsoft Platform SDK instead. The DirectX SDK is, however, still required to build the DirectShow samples.
|DirectX version||Version number||Operating system||Date released|
|DirectX 1.0||4.02.0095||September 30 1995|
|DirectX 2.0||?||Was shipped only with a few 3rd party applications||1996|
|DirectX 2.0a||4.03.00.1096||Windows 95 OSR2 and NT 4.0||June 5 1996|
|DirectX 3.0||4.04.00.0068||September 15 1996|
|4.04.00.0069||Later package of DirectX 3.0 included Direct3D 4.04.00.0069||1996|
|DirectX 3.0a||4.04.00.0070|| Windows NT 4.0 SP3 (and above)|
last supported version of DirectX for Windows NT 4.0
|DirectX 3.0b||4.04.00.0070|| This was a very minor update to 3.0a|
that fixed a cosmetic problem with the Japanese version of Windows 95
|DirectX 4.0||Never launched|
|DirectX 5.0||4.05.00.0155 (RC55)||Available as a beta for Windows NT 5.0 that would install on Windows NT 4.0||July 16 1997|
|DirectX 5.2||4.05.01.1600 (RC00)||DirectX 5.2 release for Windows 95||May 5 1998|
|4.05.01.1998 (RC0)||Windows 98 exclusive||June 25 1998|
|DirectX 6.0||4.06.00.0318 (RC3)||Windows CE as implemented on Dreamcast||August 7 1998|
|DirectX 6.1||4.06.02.0436 (RC0)||February 3 1999|
|DirectX 6.1a||4.06.03.0518 (RC0)||Windows 98 SE exclusive||May 5 1999|
|DirectX 7.0||4.07.00.0700 (RC1)||September 221999|
|4.07.00.0700||Windows 2000||February 17 2000|
|DirectX 7.0a||4.07.00.0716 (RC0)||March 8 2000|
|DirectX 7.1||4.07.01.3000 (RC1)||Windows Me exclusive||September 14 2000|
|DirectX 8.0||4.08.00.0400 (RC10)||November 12 2000|
|DirectX 8.0a||4.08.00.0400 (RC14)||Last supported version for Windows 95||February 5 2001|
|DirectX 8.1||4.08.01.0810||Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Xbox exclusive||October 25 2001|
|4.08.01.0881 (RC7)|| This version is for the down level operating systems|
(Windows 98, Windows Me and Windows 2000)
|November 8 2001|
|DirectX 8.1a||4.08.01.0901 (RC?)||This release includes an update to Direct3D (D3d8.dll)||2002|
|DirectX 8.1b||4.08.01.0901 (RC7)||This update includes a fix to DirectShow on Windows 2000 (Quartz.dll)||June 25 2002|
|DirectX 8.2||4.08.02.0134 (RC0)||Same as the DirectX 8.1b but includes DirectPlay 8.2||2002|
|DirectX 9.0||4.09.00.0900 (RC4)||December 19 2002|
|DirectX 9.0a||4.09.00.0901 (RC6)||March 26 2003|
|DirectX 9.0b||4.09.00.0902 (RC2)||August 13 2003|
|DirectX 9.0c||4.09.00.0903||Service Pack 2 for Windows XP exclusive|
|4.09.00.0904 (RC0)||August 4 2004|
|4.09.00.0904||Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Server 2003 R2 and Xbox 360||August 6 2004|
|DirectX 9.0c - bimonthly updates||4.09.00.0904 (RC0)||The February 9, 2005 release is the first 64-bit capable build.The last build for Windows 98 and Windows Me is the redistributable from December 13, 2006.||Released bimonthly from October 2004 to August 2007, and quarterly thereafter; Latest version: August 2008|
|DirectX 10||6.00.6000.16386||Windows Vista exclusive||November 30 2006|
|6.00.6001.18000|| Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008|
includes Direct3D 10.1
|February 4, 2008|
Prior to DirectX 10, DirectX was designed to be backward compatible with older drivers, meaning that newer versions of the APIs were designed to interoperate with older drivers written against a previous version's DDI. For example, a game designed for and running on Direct3D 9 with a graphics adapter driver designed for Direct3D 6 would still work, albeit possibly with gracefully degraded functionality. However, as of Windows Vista, due to the significantly updated DDI for Windows Display Driver Model drivers, Direct3D 10 cannot run on older hardware drivers.
Various releases of Windows have included and supported various versions of DirectX, allowing newer versions of the operating system to continue running applications designed for earlier versions of DirectX until those versions can be gradually phased out in favor of newer APIs, drivers, and hardware.
During the GDC 2006 Microsoft presented the XNA Framework, a new managed version of DirectX (similar but not identical to Managed DirectX) that is intended to assist development of games by making it easier to integrate DirectX, High Level Shader Language (HLSL) and other tools in one package. It also supports the execution of managed code on the Xbox 360. The XNA Game Studio Express RTM was made available on December 11 2006, as a free download for Windows XP. Unlike the DirectX runtime, Managed DirectX, XNA Framework or the Xbox 360 APIs (XInput, XACT etc) have not shipped as part of Windows. Developers are expected to redistribute the runtime components along with their games or applications.
No Microsoft product including the latest XNA releases provides DirectX 10 support for the .NET Framework.
There are also alternative implementations that aim to provide the same API, such as the one in Wine.