Xbox head Phil Spencer took to the stage during Microsoft’s Build 2016 keynote address to hype up the latest developments in Windows and Xbox gaming. As expected, the presentation centered around the Universal Windows Platform, Microsoft’s recently-announced initiative to unify Windows 10 and Xbox One for developers, and how easy it is to turn any Xbox into a dev unit.
The change is being pitched as a way to empower developers, with Forza creators Turn 10 Studios leading off the segment by talking about how the UWP has enabled them to code the game once for both Windows 10 and Xbox One, promising to launch all future titles simultaneously for both platforms.
“Windows 10 provides the most productive and efficient development platform for developers of all sizes,” explained Spencer. The goal is to minimize the amount of redundant work that developers will need to do in order to optimize their games for a variety of platforms. To that end, Spencer announced that both Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync and AMD’s competing FreeSync will be natively supported by the UWP this coming May.
The upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary update will include a Desktop App Converter, which will allow users to take games running through other platforms like Steam and integrate them directly into Windows 10. This was demonstrated first with Age of Empires II HD, generating a Live Tile in the Start Menu that showed how many people were playing at that particular moment. They followed that with a more computationally-demanding title, DT Game of the Year winner The Witcher 3, which booted up quickly to run at full frame rate as a modern desktop application.
Xbox Developer Mode, the long-promised feature to turn any retail Xbox One console into a developer kit, launched today as a preview, with the full version coming this summer. This will allow developers to seamlessly switch between testing on console and PC, with input optimized for touch, mouse, and game pad. Unlocking Developer Mode will automatically add the Dev Home app, which serves as a hub for account management and developer settings. It also includes a “Leave Developer Mode” button, which will set the console back to retail mode for regular play.
Other features coming to Xbox One include Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana and the ability to play background music while running other apps.