Microsoft has certainly gone all-in on their Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and have been updating it, including the name, for several years now. What originally started as WinRT apps has morphed into a much more powerful platform which can support a wide variety of apps. There’s no doubt that traditional Win32 apps made for the desktop are not going away, but with Project Centennial, Microsoft hopes to bring at least actively developed Win32 apps over to the UWP platform.

One of the main areas that Microsoft has focused on in their marketing is UWP’s support for DirectX 12 in Windows 10, and to that end they have promoted several big budget games which have come to the Windows Store as a UWP app. But the move from tablet style games to high demand PC games was not entirely smooth. The UWP platform operates in a different way than traditional Win32 games, and it lacked several features that PC gamers had become accustomed to. Some of those features were as simple as the ability to control V-Sync in a game, and exclusive fullscreen.

In today’s patch Tuesday, Microsoft has addressed some of these complaints, and the timing of the updates are important as I will get to in a bit. First, UWP now support controllable V-Sync, as well as support for adaptive framerate displays in AMD’s FreeSync or NVIDIA’s G-SYNC. That is very important if they really want to reach for the PC gamer, since these technologies come at a price premium, and there’s no point buying a game in the Windows Store if this will not work, especially when it will work if the game is available on Steam.

The games themselves will need to be updated to support this, but since most of the games that have been released so far are either published by Microsoft, or worked on closely with Microsoft, this should happen soon.

One known caveat at this time is that people with laptops which have an integrated GPU plus a discrete GPU will not yet have the option to disable V-Sync, and Microsoft states they are working on having this available “as quickly as possible” so if you have a laptop using Optimus or Dynamic Switchable Graphics, some more waiting will be needed.

Microsoft also addressed another point in today’s news announcement. Exclusive Fullscreen is another PC quirk where a game is given unrestricted access to the display, and this was done for greater performance many years ago. UWP apps cannot access this mode though, and instead run in a borderless window. There are advantages to this method, since you can more easily multitask, but there are concerns about performance. Traditionally, you’d be at the mercy of the Desktop Window Manager to do the game rendering in a window, which is likely why V-Sync was likely an issue with UWP apps until today. Microsoft is addressing the performance though by stating that any DirectX 12 game will have identical performance in borderless windowed mode or exclusive fullscreen. Since most new games coming to the store will likely support DirectX 12, this shouldn’t be an issue then.

These changes are important for a couple of reasons. First is the timing, which I alluded to earlier. The next big update for Windows 10 is codenamed Redstone, and is due to land in the July timeframe, or about a year after Windows 10 was launched. By pushing out these changes prior to that update, it sends a message that they are not planning on being bound by major releases of Windows 10 in order to fix gaming issues. Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be a good gaming platform, so this is very important.

Even with these changes though, there are still some other issues with UWP which will need to be addressed. Since the games launch in a sandbox, tools that PC gamers are used to using such as FRAPS will no longer work, and because there is no EXE file launched, per application settings in something like the NVIDIA control panel. Mouse settings, which detect the .exe and change the button mapping, as well as macros which do the same, also will not work. The Windows Store is also missing the ability to backup games, so if you ever have to reinstall a game again, you have to download the entire game from the store, rather than restoring from a backup. Since the games we are discussing can easily be 50 or more Gigabytes, this should be an option like it is on Steam.

The timing of these updates though, which are not tied to a major Windows 10 update, are encouraging, and hopefully display that Microsoft is committed to the UWP platform for PC gaming and will update it to address issues. It’s an important step, but with major competition in this market from Steam and Origin, they won’t be able to rest on their laurels.

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  • plopke - Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - link

    1)I still have lot of trust issues to overcome after the HORRIBLE windows live gaming debacle
    2) Origin , Uplay , Steam their launch was very far from perfect but many many many years ago , to launch a new game store and miss these kind of features, i am kinda baffled , can you install games already on a other partition?
    3) and maby i am wrong here but the most EXPENSIVE PC game store ever? 69.99 euro for Quantum break/Tomb raider THOSE ARE(VERY EXPENSIVE) CONSOLE prices for the base game???? What does this store offer over gog , humble bundle , retail , steam , uplay , origin ,.....
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - link

    If you want Quantum Break, you can only get it from the Windows store. For that reason alone I'm skipping it.
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - link

    1: yeah they could create a legacy server that does nothing but authenticate so people with those Games for Windows Live titles can at least play them and save their game.

    2: The store is integrated into the OS. One things UWP can do is give away games for free OR as part of a promo (buy xbox, get pc for free deal) Steam cant do that. UWP is vertically integrated with the OS and 10 years from now, it will be offering features steam and origin simply cannot pull off due to "vertical integration". Steam didnt have the ability to install games on a different drive for 3 years. I'm betting microsoft integrates most of the wanted features much faster.

    3) these titles are brand new and AAA at that, and even if they were on steam, they would not be on sale for at least 6 months. Your getting punished by your country's poor currency value and VAT. This is all do to your goverment. Should developers take less because your government is greedy? hardly.
  • azrael- - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Yet despite all your points UWP applications can only be purchased in the Windows Store. Why would I ever want to restrict myself to only ever being able to buy from one place?

    Also, your douchebaggery comments about the Euro are most unwelcome. I'm going out on a limb here and assume you're American. If so, you'd know that it was the US (or rather US companies) which was more or less solely responsible for tanking the world economy back in 2008. But that's a whole different kettle of fish...
  • althaz - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Most games on the market are only available via one online store. Valve's games (and thousands of others) are exclusive to Steam. EA's are exclusive to Origin. Ubisoft games pretend to be available via Steam...but they aren't really (they all still require uPlay, which remains horrifically broken).
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Yeah I'm sure the excessive social spending beyond revenue received by countries like Greece, Spain etc. had nothing to do with their own problems. Everything is the fault of big bad evil 'Murica. Nice try Azrael.
  • plopke - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    These prices have nothing to do with VAT/country , most AAA PC game in the European market are 49.99 - 59.99 euro on steam(which is most of the time already the most expensive route) , on retail and different chains you can quiet often -10% so 45-55 euro , some developer sell games cheaper in parts of Europe but since it is a European open market it legal to get copies from there so thats way you sometimes can get AAA PC games - legal for just below 40 euro on the European market.

    If these games had some season pass or bundle included into them It would make sense. If not well, Microsoft is extremely inefficient with their business , they trying to protect their console game prices or they absolutely clueless about the market situation. In all 3 cases it make their store look stupid.
  • Lolimaster - Friday, May 13, 2016 - link

    Please, this is Microsoft.

    The one that was also "vertically" integrated in the mobile business sector with the PDA's and Windows Mobile way before "smartphones" existed. Where are they now? Pretty much a comic relief with Windows 10 Mobile.
  • JonnyDough - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    With Windows 10 being shoved down our throats I think most of us are looking to go Linux. As more and more games are made for it I would be happy to swap over my 12 gaming PCs. (My basement is a LAN for friends). I realize I am the exception, most users have a single desktop - however I'm a true enthusiast and most enthusiasts like myself build PCs for at least everyone in their family. As it is my girlfriend's mom uses Google apps for her job now as they've shied from Microsoft as well. I work for the government, and suspect that they are very close cohorts with M$...
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - link

    "can you install games already on a other partition?"

    I doubt it. I'm also pretty sure that these are installed on a per-user basis, so if you've got family members that play the same game, you're going to have to install it multiple times.

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