Version Numbers for Display Drivers

To ensure that the end user is able to use a display driver on a specific operating system and with a specific version of DirectX, an appropriate version number must be applied to that driver. With DirectX, version numbers have become very important for device drivers. If a device driver is shipped with the wrong version number or a version number that uses the wrong format, the end user will encounter difficulties when any DirectX application is installed.

Note The DriverVer directive provides a way to add version information for the driver package, including the driver file and the INF file itself, to the INF file. By using and updating the DriverVer directive, driver packages can be safely and definitively replaced by future versions of the same package. For more information about this directive, see INF DriverVer Directive in the Device Installation section of the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) documentation.

The following table gives the range of version numbers appropriate for IHV- or OEM-supplied drivers for compatibility with various versions of DirectX.

Target System Version Number
Version Number
Up Through:

Windows 98-only drivers (DirectX5)

DirectX 1.0-compatible drivers

DirectX 2.0-compatible drivers

DirectX 3.0-compatible drivers

DirectX 5.0-compatible drivers

DirectX 6.0-compatible drivers

Windows 98/Me DirectX 7.0-compatible drivers

Windows 2000 DirectX 7.0-compatible drivers

Windows XP and later DirectX 7.0-compatible drivers

Windows 98/Me DirectX 8.0-compatible drivers

Windows 2000 DirectX 8.0-compatible drivers

Windows XP and later DirectX 8.0-compatible drivers

Windows 98/Me DirectX 9.0-compatible drivers

Windows 2000 DirectX 9.0-compatible drivers

Windows XP and later DirectX 9.0-compatible drivers

Note The DirectX 9.0 DDK documentation indicated that the version number for a Windows XP and later DirectX-compatible driver must be from 6.nn.01.0000 to 6.nn.01.9999. However, to support legacy WHQL manual test specifications, the documentation also indicated that the version number could be from 6.nn.10.0000 to 6.nn.10.9999. Because of this legacy WHQL requirement, some DirectX applications required a display driver version number of n.nn.10.nnnn. If a display driver's version number was switched from n.nn.10.nnnn to n.nn.01.nnnn so that it more accurately conformed to the DirectX 9.0 DDK documentation requirement, such applications might not run because they would interpret the driver as an earlier version.

Therefore, a display driver's version number should be set to n.nn.10.nnnn.

For device drivers that do not support DirectX, the version number must be greater than and less than For example, if a display device driver is a Windows 3.1 display driver or a Windows 95-only display driver, a version number of would be correct.

Conversely, a version number of for this driver would be incorrect. Device drivers that support DirectX on Windows 95 only should have a version number equal to or greater than and less than

Storing Internal Version Numbers

In addition to the format that Microsoft requires for the version number, many vendors have expressed the desire to store an internal version number for product support and testing purposes. Every DirectX driver has one version number that is stored in duplicate: one binary version stored as two DWORDs, and one string version. The binary version cannot be modified.

The string version, however, can be appended in the following way:

  1. The vendor creates a version number, as described earlier in this article. This version number is used "as is" in the binary version number.

  2. The vendor uses this version number as the basis for the string version number. If desired, a vendor-specific version string can be appended to the existing version number to form the complete string version number. The vendor-specific string and the version number are separated by a "-" (hyphen character).

For example, if "" is the version number for a DirectX-compliant display driver, and the vendor uses the "xx.xx.xx" number format internally, then the combined string version number in the driver is "".

When the customer checks the version number of the driver (by right-clicking on the file in Windows Explorer, choosing Properties, and then clicking the Version tab), Windows displays the string version. The vendor's product support should be able to identify the vendor-specific portion of the version number if it exists and take appropriate action.

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