David Braben, the CEO & founder of Frontier Developments, recently announced that Elite: Dangerous will be dropping support for DirectX 10 and 32-bit Windows next year. The exact date hasn't been given just yet, but Braben did say it will take them at least six months in order to implement all of the changes.
In terms of playerbase, the loss of Win32 support will affect about 0.5% of all players, some which already own hardware capable of running 64-bit versions of Windows. On the other hand, the removal of DirectX 10 support is going to be a bit more troublesome given that around 2% of the playerbase still depend on it, many of which will need to upgrade their graphics card in order to continue playing.
Here's the full announcement message:
As you know we spend a good deal of time planning for the future, and one issue (and opportunity) we are considering is the effect of supporting Win32 and DX10, and the benefits we would get if we were to drop them. As you know, we support leading edge technology like 4K, 8K, VR, and with things like compute shaders in Horizons we really push the boundaries overall, but there are restrictions with Win32 – particularly the amount of memory we can address at one time – and with DX10 in terms of requiring an alternative rendering solution in our code. Dropping these two would help us support high end effects with a better result – to make the game better.
About 0.5% of players that have installed Elite Dangerous have used their game on Win32 at some time. Some of these machines are capable of running Win64 (ie the hardware would support it). With DX10 (fewer than 2% of players) it is more tricky as you may need to upgrade the graphics card on such machines.
We do appreciate that although those are small percentages, that is still a significant number of people affected. We want to give as much notice as we can. It will be at least six months before we would make the change, but we want to know your opinions first, and to give warning that the change will need to come at some point, so please let us know.
While these are small percentages, its important to realize that there is a rather large sum of people hiding behind those numbers, so this decision could not have been made lightly. Alas, it appears that the current support of outdated systems is stifling the development of Elite: Dangerous. According to Braben, the move from Win32 and DirectX 10 will result in better performance and prettier effects, but more importantly, faster development cycles as the team will no longer need to worry about obscure bugs that happen due to outdated hardware.
If you would like to voice your opinion feel free to post on the Frontier forums, the developers have said they are keeping a close eye on it. Do keep in mind, however, that currently we're not talking about whether these changes will be implemented, but rather when they will arrive.