Xbox Talks UWP, Gaming on Windows 10, and Xbox Dev Mode at Build 2016

Microsoft’s 2016 Build Developer Conference is unfolding at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week – and the Xbox team was in attendance to share its vision and goals for gaming, both on Xbox One and Windows 10, and the future of game development across devices.

At Build 2016’s day one keynote earlier today, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer discussed Universal Windows Platform (UWP), the development platform we’re embracing for gaming and apps across multiple Windows 10 devices, and what it means for game developers going forward. The brand-new Xbox Dev Mode was also highlighted, allowing developers of all shapes and sizes to unlock their retail Xbox Ones to more efficiently build, test, and experiment with UWP apps and games.

More Opportunities with UWP and Windows 10 Gaming

Windows 10, Spencer shared during the keynote, is the best platform for developers, and that includes game developers. Windows 10 UWP is a fully open platform, available to developers of all sizes, with multiple paths provided to develop and deliver Win32 games and UWP titles for maximum efficiency. Games can be distributed in many ways beyond the Windows Store, too; that means open distribution in any store and via any deployment mechanism.

UWP directly benefits consumers by giving them more games and apps and more stable experiences across more devices and screens. Developers have the freedom to reach a massive audience on numerous devices, united by a single cohesive development platform.

UWP builds on a three decade-plus heritage of amazing Windows games. The Windows platform has fostered the largest and most profitable segment in gaming, thanks to some of the most popular franchises in the industry, and a portfolio of games that attracts a diverse audience, from the casual to the hardcore. These gamers are – more than ever – at the center of everything that we do, regardless of what device they want to play on.

It’s for that reason, as Spencer noted, we are always listening to and acting on feedback from the gaming community. To that end, he revealed that we will be enabling the ability to disable v-sync and will be adding support for G-Sync and Freesync monitors in the coming months. Multiple GPUs are supported today by DirectX 12 on both Win32 and UWP, and we plan to make it easier for developers to add multi-GPU support to their games, in addition to ensuring we meet or exceed performance of full screen games and add support for overlays, modding, and more.

Introducing Xbox Dev Mode

Spencer was then joined onstage by Ashley Speicher, Software Engineering Lead, Xbox, who introduced Xbox Dev Mode, which will help developers create apps or games for Xbox One. Speicher revealed that, by unlocking Xbox Dev Mode on a retail Xbox One, we are giving developers the ability to build and experiment with UWP to test their apps and games in a living room scenario.

This exciting “retail-to-dev-kit” solution was no small feat and something the entire team rallied to provide for all sorts of developers. Starting today, Xbox Dev Mode is available in a preview environment. Speicher noted that because this is a preview, it’s recommended that only experienced developers engage with Dev Mode at this time. Developers ready to test out the preview can find the Xbox Dev Mode Activation app in the Xbox Store. Take the time to read the small print before installing and jumping into the preview to decide if it is right for you or if you should wait until it’s released with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update!

Beginning with the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer, the best of the Xbox Store comes together with the best of the Windows Store. We’ll offer a single, unified store across devices, giving developers new features and consumers a consistent experience, like adding bundles, season passes, and pre-orders to the Windows Store.

The Anniversary Update will also bring Cortana to Xbox One, and will set the foundation for some of the most-requested fan features, like Background Music on Xbox One.

When Cortana arrives on Xbox One with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, gamers can expect the familiar Cortana experience found on other Windows 10 devices. Cortana will get smarter over time to become your personal gaming assistant and help you find great new games, new challenges or help you with tips and tricks. We’ll be announcing more Anniversary Update features for Xbox One and gaming on Windows 10 at E3 2016 in June.

Thanks to everyone creating games and apps, the future looks bright for Xbox One, Windows 10, and, most importantly, all of our fans. We can’t wait to see what developers build for the Universal Windows Platform in the coming months and years.