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DirectX has a problem, and it's common industry wide.

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This is Leo Notenboom for

First, let me start by saying that I love DirectX.

DirectX is best described as a set of programming interfaces that make advanced multi-media applications, particularly games, work and work well. DirectX allows these programs to work in ways that not only take maximum advantage of the graphics hardware that they may be running on, but without really knowing just what the specifics of that hardware are.

It's great. It's enabled a number of advanced and very flashy PC applications.

But I hate DirectX. Or more correctly, I hate its setup and installation.

I get a steady stream of folks who've just purchased a new game or other media-intensive application who are suddenly faced with the statement "This application requires DirectX version 9 point whatever". Frequently they already have it, but apparently it's not installed right. Just as frequently they go to the Microsoft web site, download the latest version of DirectX, and attempt to install it only to have it fail. Repeatedly. The normal approach might be to uninstall it first, but of course, you can't.

It's extremely frustrating even for the most technical user.

In my opinion this is a symptom of a much larger problem that I see all to often: setups that suck. All too often the folks who produce software focus all their efforts on the product features and consider their installation only as an afterthought. And their UN-installation? You're lucky if they've thought much about that at all. The net result is that many, many programs install poorly and uninstall even worse. In fact it's one of the major reasons for junk left over in your registry.

Now, don't get me wrong; installation and un-installation is hard. I've managed teams responsible for that component of products in the past. In fact, I'd bet that because of DirectX's need to hook deep into the system, their setup is extra hard.

But just because it's difficult doesn't mean it isn't important. If anything it means exactly the opposite. DirectX is a perfect example of a complex installation process that clearly could have used more attention.

Any frazzled parent who's just attempted to install the latest multi-media game for their child on Christmas day will agree.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit and enter 11805 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,200 technical questions and answers on the site.

Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for

Article C3136 - September 1, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

September 2, 2007 7:22 AM

In addition to this article, I also read your previous article "How Can I Uninstall DirectX 9."

Do you still suggest a complete reinstall of the OS as the only way to uninstall? Seems rather drastic. Can you run regedit and delete all mention of DirectX?

September 2, 2007 12:36 PM

Frequently, I come across programs (installing for myself, as a user, and as a tech support rep for a computer manufacturer) that ask to install Directx or another component, as a default. These programs appear to make no attempt to detect if it is already there or not and just immediately prompt to install. Knowing what is on your computer helps, because you can skip the install of that component if you know it is already there. However this is by no means universal.

Leo A. Notenboom
September 3, 2007 3:31 PM

Hash: SHA1

Mary: no I'm afraid I've not yet encountered a true way, or even a registry
hack, to safely remove DirectX. That's part of my frustration. :-)


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


Terry Hollett
September 8, 2007 4:35 PM

With DX version 9 (unsure of exact number right now), when I installed, it would not run automatically. I would request a folder to uncompress in and thats all it did. You had to then track down that uncompressed program (usually in the 'Temp' foldr and then find the setup program and run it again. I'm the guy everyone calls to fix their computers, I find it a nucience but I know a few people who would not have a clue on what to do next.

Terry Hollett
September 8, 2007 4:39 PM

I apologize for the bad typing and spelling errors in the above. Just my nature. Dear Leo, can you teach me how to type...and spell? :-)

Dale May
September 9, 2007 6:23 PM

After installing more memory in thier computer the game still doesn't run any faster. Maybe it's a direct X upgrade to Direct X 9 that needs to be checked. Can't we just overwrite the Direct X 9 if it is already on the computer like other programs? It's a truck driving game----go figure!

Bryan Miller
September 10, 2007 9:11 AM

My personal favorite Microsoft blunder to hate is the Windows Update "feature." I also work in technical support and you would be amazed at how many people think they have all the updates available from Microsoft loaded on their PC just because they have the automatic update feature turned on. The first Windows Update screen has the "Express" and "Custom" buttons and the automatic updates only give you the items listed under the "Express" section of the site. To make it worse they put the word "recommended" next to the "Express" button so the novice user is more likely to choose that option. Windows Vista is another good example. Many tasks that took only a couple steps under XP have now been pushed a couple layers deeper in the menus. For example, simply connecting to a wireless network... Is it just me or has Microsoft started to completely ignore the design of the user interaction aspect of their products!

September 10, 2007 5:32 PM

Leo, Altho I don't understand why anybody would want to uninstall directx, there is a little program I came across that claims to do just that. It's called "DirectX Happy Uninstall" and can be downloaded from It has some limitations in the trial version but it's only 12.95 to buy.

Heather Doss
January 21, 2008 11:40 AM

Ok so I have directX 9.0 c on my computer and the directX features(ex. DirectDraw, etc) are available to enable so i can't play wow or the sims 2 i know alot of people have this problem but they still haven't figured out the problem. Even weirder i have had it running before. Then i had repeating restart problem then to fix it i installed GOS because the xp recovery disc wasn't working for some reason. After i reinstalled XP this problem came up. the sound wasn't even working(I got that to work.) I have a intel celeron D CPU 3.20 GHz and a Intel (Grant County) RC410 Motherboard. plz help me i have had this problem for about three weeks now and i have made gains with the sound but now this is the last thing i am having problems with plz help. Thanks in advance.

June 15, 2008 9:47 AM

please leo help me i had downloaded somekind dirctx 10 from a site they its is for Xp but all my video games do not work cause of it

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