Windows 10 Developer Tools Provide Unified Gaming Experience

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox at Microsoft, announced at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft's plans to release Windows 10 tools for developers that they say will help bring games to billions of devices. Spencer told the audience at the GDC that "our goal in gaming at Microsoft is to allow people to play games wherever they are." Microsoft plans on providing a unified gaming experience across all Windows 10 devices and the release of game development tools is the next step in achieving this goal. Upcoming Windows 10 developer tools include Xbox Live SDK for Windows 10, Windows Universal App Platform, Windows Store, Universal Development Center, and DirectX 12 API.

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Image Credit: Microsoft

Xbox Live SDK for Windows 10 includes a set of APIs that provide programmatic access to a majority of Xbox Live services that are available on Xbox One at this time. This is a shared set of APIS that are integrated with the Windows Store. Microsoft is introducing a new tier of Xbox Live that will make the online service accessible to all game developers allowing them to engage with the Xbox Live community. The Xbox Live SDK for Windows 10 is currently being previewed by a select group of Microsoft partners and early adopters to create new games. However, Spencer told the GDC audience that "throughout the year Microsoft will increase the audience of people who will get access to the APIs." Spencer also said that:

"I think the diversity in the business models that are working so well in our industry right now is a real strength. When we think about our vision at Microsoft for gaming we're trying to embrace that. We understand that flexibility for you with the games that you're building, the tools and services that we can bring to bear there is really the key. How do we let you service your customers, stay in touch with your customers, easily get products to your customers as fast as you can; that is critical."

The Windows Universal App Platform is essentially a convergence of Windows, a platform that allows one application to run on every Windows device, from mobile devices and PCs to Xbox consoles and the HoloLens holographic computing platform. The Windows Universal App Platform makes it easy for developers to bring apps and other content to a multitude of Windows devices. Windows 10 also includes new features for web developers such as a new rendering engine, the "Project Spartan" browser, and the ability to package a website so that it can be published to the Windows Store.

The Windows Store allows for cross-device publishing of games, apps, and content. The Windows Store also provides a single place for the different types of Windows devices to access, distribute, and update applications. The Universal Development Center is Microsoft's developer portal which features tools for developers to build and submit games to the Windows Store. DirectX 12 is a single graphics API that developers can use to improve game performance and reduce driver overhead. Epic Games is currently participating in Microsoft's early adopter program and the company is developing a game called Unreal Tournament that uses Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12.

Microsoft is encouraging game developers to join the Windows Insider Program where they will be able to get access to APIs when they become available, including the upcoming Microsoft HoloLens holographic APIs. Spencer spoke about Microsoft's plans for a unified vision for gaming at the GDC:

"It was 15 years ago, year 2000 at GDC, where we [Microsoft] announced the original Xbox. In many ways I look at this GDC as the most important GDC for Microsoft since that date. Not because we're announcing a new console, not because of any games I'm going to announce today; but really since that time, this is the first time that all of Microsoft's efforts in gaming will show up with one unified voice, with one unified vision around what we want to do, and the impact we want to have on the game industry."

To learn more about the Windows Insider Program, visit the official website. To learn more about Windows 10 developer tools, visit the Windows Dev Center.

Janet Wagner is a freelance technical writer and contributor to ProgrammableWeb covering breaking news, in-depth analysis, and product reviews. She specializes in creating well-researched, in-depth content about APIs, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, analytics, GIS/maps, and other advanced technologies.

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