Win10's gaming features mostly about Xbox

Xbox chief Phil Spencer revealed a slew of Windows 10 gaming features during Microsoft's press conference today. And, as one might expect, they're largely tied to the company's console.

The standard and tablet versions of the OS will ship with an Xbox-branded app that combines a game library, messaging, and social-networking feeds. PC gamers will be able to interact with their peasant Xbox One counterparts, and Microsoft has integrated support for cross-platform multiplayer between those two camps.

It's ultimately up to developers to offer cross-platform play in their games, of course. But Lionhead Studios has already added the feature to Fable Legends, which will offer both combative and cooperative multiplayer modes when it's released later this year. Spencer demoed a joint session between early PC and Xbone builds of the game.

Windows 10 also adds the ability to stream real-time gaming sessions from the Xbox One to local PCs and tablets. PC games can't be routed to the Xbone, though, and PC-to-PC streaming doesn't appear to be in the cards. Good thing we already have Steam's in-home streaming and Nvidia's GameStream tech.

Microsoft's console remains at the center of its gaming strategy, but look out for increased cross-pollination on the applications front. Windows 10's universal apps will run on the Xbox One, giving developers the ability to target consoles and PCs with the same software. The Xbone is practically a PC under the hood, so cross-platform apps make perfect sense.

The Xbox app for Windows 10

Speaking of cross-pollination, the Xbone's Game DVR is integrated into Windows 10. This feature works with all games, and it appears to support both manual recording and 30-second replays. Footage of your sweet headshots and epic combos can be edited and shared within the Xbox app.

Incidentally, Spencer called himself "a big Steam customer." He demoed the DVR functionality in Civilization: Beyond Earth, which was launched via the Steam client.

The last gaming tidbits relate to DirectX 12, which seems increasingly likely to be a Windows 10 exclusive. Although Microsoft didn't mention supported OS versions during the event, the fact that Win10 is a free upgrade for Win7 and Win8.1 suggests little need to backport the API.

Following in Unreal Engine's footsteps, the Unity engine is adopting DirectX 12. Spencer said the API is ideal for mobile use, claiming that DirectX 12 can reduce the power required to render a scene by half. Credit the API's lower overhead, which should also help to improve performance in CPU-bound games. Cyril saw some of DX12's potential on this front at Siggraph in August.

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