Microsoft is beginning to backport Windows 7 features to Windows Vista, and as an integral part of the process, the company is also upgrading Vista’s graphics technology to the level of Windows 7.
In this regard, the Redmond-based company has made available for download the Beta development milestone of the Platform Update for Windows Vista. It is via the Platform Update for Windows Vista Beta that users running the second service pack for Vista will be able to access the new DirectX 11 package, and bring the operating system that succeeded Windows XP on par with Windows 7.
Essentially, what Vista SP2 users will be getting is the latest iteration of the DirectX platform. DirectX 11 is in no way a single component. It is, however, a sum of technologies packaged together. The Platform Update for Windows Vista Beta offers the complete new DirectX package, allowing end users and developers to take advantage of components such as DirectWrite, Direct2D, Direct3D 11, Direct3D 10 Level 9, and DXGI 1.1. In addition, the download will also deliver Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library updates to the Windows Imaging Components, XPS Print API, and the XPS Rasterization Service. Following the integration of the Platform Update for Windows Vista Beta, customers will have the same DirectX technologies on Windows Vista as in Windows 7.
A critical aspect that must be noted is that Microsoft will only target Windows Vista SP2 with the DirectX package in Platform Update for Windows Vista. Users that are currently still running the RTM or SP1 versions of Vista will not be getting upgraded, unless they first upgrade to Service Pack 2. The same is valid for Windows Server 2008, with only SP2 being supported for the DirectX upgrade introduced with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, and RTM-SP1 being ignored completely. SP2 is mandatory for the time being; however, the Platform Update for Windows Vista's DirectX refresh is bound to be tailored to Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Vista and Windows Server 2008 moving onward.
Microsoft revealed that it would offer the Platform Update for Windows Vista through Windows Update. The refresh will be supplied automatically via WU and will be labeled a "recommended" install. The Beta release of the Platform Update for Windows Vista is already served through WU. According to Microsoft, plans are in place for official launch during the Windows 7 general availability time frame. The Redmond-based company mentioned nothing about the possibility of DirectX 11 to be offered as a standalone download to Vista users.