Microsoft’s ambitious UWP or Universal Windows Platform featured in Windows 10 is intended to enable development of apps across PCs, tablets, phones, and other devices using one API and one app package allowing a platform-homogeneous platform for developers. With the Windows 10 OS on over 300 million devices now, it seems only natural that Microsoft gravitated towards UWP to allow devs to reach as many of these devices as possible.
One area that UWP has come under heated criticism is the UWP gaming features on Windows 10. Microsoft have been accused of trying to ‘monopolize’ PC games and, less extemely, of putting bad ports on the UWP Windows 10 store. Games from Gears of War Ultimate Edition to Quantum Break have been said to not always perform very well on the Windows 10 store and lacked some crucial features that PC gamers have grown accustomed to.
In response, Microsoft today announced on their developer blog that they’ve taken steps to improve UWP features. The full post reads:
What an exciting few months it’s been for Windows 10 Gamers
In the last few months, we’ve taken Windows 10 gaming to a new level by partnering with Microsoft Studios to deliver marquee titles such as: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break, and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Beta), all of which support both DirectX 12 and the Universal Windows Platform.
These titles, along with other key DirectX 12 titles such as Ashes of the Singularity and Hitman, prove that Windows 10 is unequivocally THE place to be for gamers! (By the way, Forza Apex is free, so if you want a zero-cost demonstration of the power of DirectX 12 on your PC, check it out!)
A big thank you to those who have given us feedback. We read it all – the Window Store reviews, the reviews on gaming-focused websites, and even some of the giant threads on the various forums.
We’re listening – and acting
As a direct response to your feedback, we’re excited to announce the release today of new updates to Windows 10 that make gaming even better for game developers and gamers.
Later today, Windows 10 will be updated with two key new features:
- Support for AMD’s FreesyncTM and NVIDIA’s G-SYNC™ in Universal Windows Platform games and apps
- Unlocked frame rate for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games and apps
Once applications take advantage of these new features, you will be able to play your UWP games with unlocked frame rates. We expect Gears of War: UE and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex to lead the way by adding this support in the very near future.
This OS update will be gradually rolled out to all machines, but you can download it directly here.
These updates to UWP join the already great support for unlocked frame rate and AMD and NVIDIA’s technologies in Windows 10 for classic Windows (Win32) apps.
Please keep the feedback coming!
Taking out our crystal ball
Looking further into the future, you can expect to see some exciting developments on multiple GPUs in DirectX 12 in the near future, and a truly impressive array of DirectX 12 titles later this summer and fall.
In the meantime, stay tuned to our blog and follow us on Twitter @DirectX12 for a post coming soon about DirectX performance!
What is the Universal Windows Platform and how does it relate to gaming?
The focus of this blog is on graphics – for a broader understanding of UWP and gaming, the “Future of Game Development on Windows”, presented last //Build is a good place to start.
I thought this was the DirectX blog, why are you telling me about the Universal Windows Platform?
DirectX supports both classic (Win32) apps and Universal Windows Platform apps. App developers who wish to use DirectX 12 can use either Win32 or UWP – we are committed to making them both work great and there should be no performance differences between them.
From a graphics perspective, how is a Universal Windows App different from a Win32 app?
For the most part, the Direct3D code in a Universal Windows App is largely the same as a Win32 app. There are some changes to the core Windowing system, which mostly effect how full screen windows work, see “Does DirectX 12 and UWP support full screen exclusive mode” below. There are no performance differences between a DirectX 12 UWP app and a DirectX 12 Win32 app.
How does “unlocked frame rate” relate to tearing and vsync support? How do these relate to G-SYNC and FreeSync?
Vsync refers to the ability of an application to synchronize game rendering frames with the refresh rate of the monitor. When you use a game menu to “Disable vsync”, you instruct applications to render frames out of sync with the monitor refresh. Being able to render out of sync with the monitor refresh allows the game to render as fast as the graphics card is capable (unlocked frame rate), but this also means that “tearing” will occur. Tearing occurs when part of two different frames are on the screen at the same time.
G-SYNC and FreeSync solve the game/monitor synchronization problem by determining when the game is ready to render a new frame. When the game is ready, the graphics driver tells the monitor to refresh the display. This allows your game to render as fast as the graphics card is capable without any tearing, but requires monitors which support adaptive refresh technology.
Does DirectX 12 and UWP support full screen exclusive mode?
Full screen exclusive mode was created back in the original release of DirectDraw to provide games with enhanced performance when using the entire screen. The downside of full screen exclusive mode is that it makes the experience for gamers who wish to do other things on their system, such as alt-tab to another application or run the Windows GameDVR, more clunky with excessive flicker and transition time.
We thought it would be cool if gamers could have the versatility of gaming in a window with the performance of full screen exclusive.
So, with Windows 10, DirectX 12 games which take up the entire screen perform just as well as the old full screen exclusive mode without any of the full screen exclusive mode disadvantages. This is true for both Win32 and UWP games which use DirectX 12. All of these games can seamlessly alt-tab, run GameDVR, and exhibit normal functionality of a window without any perf degradation vs full screen exclusive.
Want to know more about how this works? Check out our DirectX 12 Developer Education YouTube channel!
I have a hybrid laptop (laptop with integrated + discrete GPU), the unlocked framerate doesn’t seem to work for me?
This is a known issue, and there is additional engineering work underway to enable this as quickly as possible.
The important parts to take away here is that Microsoft are listening to the feedback and are consequently taking action to improve UWP gaming features. Alongside support for unlocked frame rates that is being rolled out, the post also stated that they’re looking to push out support multiple GPUs in DirectX 12 as soon as possible.
Have you had problems with Microsoft’s UWP gaming features? Let us know by leaving a comment below.