The Windows 11 rollout officially starts today, meaning current Windows 10 users with compatible machines will be prompted to upgrade their operating system for free over the next few months. Microsoft blog posts about the new OS have boasted that it’s “the best Windows ever for gaming”–here’s what that’ll mean in practice for PC gamers.
The biggest change in Windows 11 for gamers are two features that were initially developed for the Xbox Series X|S–Auto HDR and DirectStorage. Both require certain hardware to fully take advantage of the benefits, but if you’ve already got a proper gaming rig, you should be in the clear.
As the name suggests, Auto HDR is a feature that will automatically upgrade game graphics to High Dynamic Range, given you’ve got a display that supports HDR. The feature is compatible with “over 1000 DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 games,” improving the range of colors that are displayed, as well as enabling higher-quality contrast and brightness.
The other feature that has been migrated from the Xbox Series X|S is DirectStorage, which enables gaming PCs to load games quicker, and render the kinds of expansive or detailed game worlds that would usually trip up lower-specced PCs. The feature does require your PC to include an NVMe solid state drive and a DirectX 12 GPU to run, however.
While not exactly new to Windows 11, Microsoft promises the new iteration of Windows will “continue to have the broadest hardware support in the world,” which includes the new generation Xbox controllers, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and of course a large range of third-party gaming peripherals.
Xbox App And Game Pass
Microsoft is also continuing to push its software, subscription, and streaming ambitions with Windows 11, with the Xbox app coming built-in as part of the regular software suite. The Xbox app includes Game Pass built in, giving subscribers an easy way to access their library of games. To make the app more of a one-stop-shop for gamers, it will also include Xbox Cloud Gaming in the same app.
Windows 11 will be rolling out automatically to suitable machines over the next few months, but in the meantime you can check whether your computer is ready for the upgrade, including enabling TPM 2.0 if you need to.