Microsoft is bringing its Xbox Auto HDR feature to Windows

Microsoft is planning to automatically add HDR support to more than 1,000 PC games. The software maker is now testing a new Auto HDR feature on Windows 10, which works just like it does on the latest Xbox Series S and X consoles. Enabling Auto HDR will add high dynamic range (HDR) to a large number of DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 games, as long as you have a compatible HDR monitor.

“While some game studios develop for HDR gaming PCs by mastering their game natively for HDR, Auto HDR for PC will take DirectX 11 or DirectX 12 SDR-only games and intelligently expand the color / brightness range up to HDR,” says Hannah Fisher, a DirectX program manager at Microsoft. “It’s a seamless platform feature that will give you an amazing new gaming experience that takes full advantage of your HDR monitor’s capabilities.”

Auto HDR on Gears 5.
Image: Microsoft

Auto HDR can be enabled in the latest Windows 10 test build (21337) released to Windows Insiders today. It should be automatically enabled, or you can toggle it in the display part of settings. Auto HDR is just in preview for now, and not all top DirectX 11 / 12 games will support it just yet. Microsoft is also working to optimize performance and fix some issues, and the company does admit “Auto HDR does take some GPU compute power to implement.”

Alongside the Auto HDR feature, the latest test version of Windows 10 also includes improvements to Virtual Desktops, a File Explorer layout update, and even some changes to built-in apps like Notepad.

New File Explorer layout.

Virtual Desktop changes in Windows 10.

Windows 10 will soon include custom backgrounds for each Virtual Desktop, with the ability to easily reorder desktops. Microsoft is also adding additional padding between elements in File Explorer. There’s a compact mode now with the classic File Explorer mode, and the new view is a little more touch-optimized.

Notepad also has a new icon now and will be updated via the Microsoft Store. Microsoft is also updating the apps it bundles with Windows 10, to include Windows Terminal and Power Automate Desktop.

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