So, I recently came across a source which stated that if you choose to use Direct3D 12 in your game, you have to sign a contract with Microsoft that prohibits you from using Vulkan in the future. It also said it prevents you from using any other API other than Direct3D 11 or 12.

Is this true?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Source? ------- \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please add the source of this claim. I first had my doubts, but as this is directly related to the game industry, I think this question is borderline on-topic, as stated in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – LukeG
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ He can't add sources, he signed an NDA with Microsoft. :P \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ The OP is the same person who suggested here gamedev.stackexchange.com/a/138206/9134 that MS might be paying people to not use other APIs, and has a total of 4 questions all touching on similar "API-war" nonsense. Evidence appears to be that this person is not acting in good faith but is instead merely seeking to spread FUD. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 15:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the spectrum of malice versus ignorance , this looks mostly the like asker simpler doesn't know, and there is nothing wrong with that. We're supposed to address things people don't know, not attack them for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


Definitely not.

There are two ways to see this assertion is false. First, consider that Direct3D 12 is part of the Windows SDK, which comes with a license agreement (it's generally located in the License subdirectory of the installation) that you must agree to before you can use the SDK. The Windows SDK is the minimal piece of Microsoft technology you need to use Direct3D 12, and the Windows SDK license says nothing about any other rendering APIs, nothing about exclusivity, and nothing about restrictions on using Vulkan. It's pretty clear that you can develop software using that SDK without encumbering yourself in any kind of restriction about rendering API choice.

Second, Windows is not a walled-garden platform. Agreement to the Windows SDK's license is the first and last legal interaction you can have with Microsoft when developing and shipping software for Windows platforms. There is no other point where they can assert legal leverage to mandate that you not use Vulkan.

So this claim is false.

It seems likely your "source" is either flat-out incorrect, or there is a misunderstanding between yourself and that source. It is theoretically possible that Microsoft, acting as a publisher for a game (and thus legally and financially engaged in a contract with a developer to produce that game) might mandate that a particular game use particular technology, such as D3D12, over other options... Permanently or for a period of exclusivity defined by the contract. Such deals are specific, though: they don't apply to everybody and as the publisher Microsoft would generally be paying for the right to make such a demand by virtue of the fact that they're funding the development of the game.


As hard as I try I can't find anything online giving this the slightest bit of credence and it just seems terribly unlikely, Microsoft does silly things all the time but they're not completly bereft of sense and I know Cryengine supports both DirectX 12 and Vulkan so at least one vendor can use both without being struck down.

This just sounds like the claim about Visual Studio Express having limitations all over again.


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