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Developers can port games between Windows 10 devices with just a few lines of code

When Microsoft announced the Xbox One, one of its major selling points was the device’s use of a common Windows kernel. That means, in theory, anything that works on Windows can be easily ported to Xbox, and vice versa. At the console’s release, though, this potential wasn’t as accessible as hoped.

That’s changing over time, and at a BUILD 2015 developer session two of the company’s Game Evangelists, Jamie Rodriguez and Brian Peek, laid out how games can be ported between devices with “just a few clicks.”

At it the most basic level, a developer that wants to bring a game from Windows 8.1 (Metro) or Windows Mobile over to Windows 10 won’t have to do much aside from support windowing. Microsoft also recommends specifying a minimum and preferred window size, and setting the game to deactivate when it loses focus. Similarly, a Windows 10 game can be ported over to the Xbox or Windows Mobile as long as a few basic requirements, such as full-screen support, are met.

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Microsoft is also expanding support for various control schemes. Windows 10 is designed to let access the InputPane with ease, and games will be able to accept text input without a TextBox. This means that inserting a touch keyboard into a game will be much easier than before.  There will also be a new Gamepad code class designed to support the Xbox One controller.

Perhaps the most interesting demonstration, though, related to Xbox Live. Windows 10 games will be able to access every Xbox Live service currently available to Xbox 360 and One games, from gamer profiles to achievements to multi-player matchmaking (note this does not necessarily mean PC and console players will be pooled together, though). On stage, within minutes, a simple game was modified to include support for Xbox Live sign-in and an Xbox Live leaderboard. Microsoft clearly wants Xbox Live to be as easy to add to games as possible, which makes sense; more game support, more users.

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Taking this a step further, developers will be able to tap into “Title Callable UIs,” a set of pre-existing interfaces that handle common tasks like displaying a user’s Xbox Live profile and adding a multi-player invitation menu. Again, these are meant to be inserted straight into existing games with minimal modification, so developers can put Xbox Live to work quickly.

These changes will encourage game developers to treat all Microsoft devices like a single platform, and should increase selection for gamers – particularly those on Windows Mobile, who’ve had few options for entertainment in the past.