Microsoft has officially released the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, bringing with it official support for DirectX Raytracing when coupled with compatible hardware - along with, for some reason, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Released to the public late last night the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is a feature-release patch for Windows 10 which brings with it DirectX Raytracing (DXR) functionality, previously available only as a developer-focused experimental release. 'We’ve worked for many years to make Windows the best platform for PC Gaming and believe that DirectX Raytracing is a major leap forward for gamers on our platform. We built DirectX Raytracing with ubiquity in mind: it’s an API that was built to work across hardware from all vendors,' explains Microsoft's Jacques van Rhyn - though, at present, only Nvidia's RTX family of graphics cards has DXR-compatible ray tracing acceleration cores.

'Real-time ray tracing is often quoted as being the holy grail of graphics and it’s a key part of a decades-long dream to achieve realism in games. Today marks a key milestone in making this dream a reality: gamers now have access to both the OS and hardware to support real-time ray tracing in games. With the first few titles powered by DirectX Raytracing just around the corner, we’re about to take the first step into a ray-traced future. This was made possible with hard work here at Microsoft and the great partnerships that we have with the industry. Without the solid collaboration from our partners, today’s announcement would not have been possible.'

The addition of DXR support extends beyond games, too: As well as allowing developers to add ray tracing capabilities to their engines without having to rebuild anything from scratch, Microsoft's implementation allows non-gaming applications to accelerate ray tracing workloads - which spells good news for the computer aided design (CAD) industry.

The release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update wasn't Microsoft's only announcement last night, though: The company has also unveiled a new generation of hardware, including a Surface Pro 6 tablet, Surface Laptop 2, and Surface Studio 2, all of which include upgrades to Intel's latest eight-generation Core processor family. The company also announced a pair of headphones bearing the Surface brand, featuring active noise cancellation and integrated Cortana voice-activated assistant support.

Microsoft and Nvidia have both reiterated upcoming support for DirectX Raytracing and the GeForce RTX hardware's acceleration of same in games including Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus, though none of the games are expected to include support at launch nor have been given a firm date for inclusion of the technology.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is available now via Windows Update to all Windows 10 users.

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