Image courtesy of Microsoft.com
With 18 million downloads and counting, Windows 10 has arrived with a bang. But does it live up to the expectations for the gaming community? We thought we’d take a look at the differences you can expect if you choose to download the free upgrade.
After many PC users decided to stick with Windows 7 – and many others even sticking with XP, giving Windows 8 and 8.1 a comparatively terrible adoption rate, Microsoft had to do something drastic to woo PC users, particularly gamers, with Windows 10. Additionally, their DirectX 11 is facing stiff competition from AND’s Mantle technology.
After launching DirectX 11 alongside Windows 7 back in 2009, Microsoft seemed to put all of its energy into improving Xbox and their range of tablets and phones, releasing only a few minor updates for DirectX and the PC gaming community. And, because the tech business is what it is, and competitors aren’t always stupid, AMD spotted the gap caused by the complacency from the tech giant. They seized the opportunity and developed Mantle. This alternative graphics API offers a range of enhancements for developers, and performance improvements for gamers, but only on machines running an AMD 7000-series or higher graphics card.
Battlefield 4 was one of the first games to support AMD’s Mantle tech.
It seems that this made Microsoft wake up and take notice, as soon after the launch, they announced their plans for DirectX 12 and their intention of releasing it alongside Windows 10. Suddenly Microsoft were back in the game.
DirectX 12 offers many of the same enhancements as Mantle, including “closer to the meta” access for developers and enhanced performance for PC gamers, with reduced CPU bottlenecks. The main advantage of DirectX over Mantle is that DirectX runs on all hardware, not just AMD.
Now, Microsoft didn’t decide to launch the all new DirectX with Windows 10 just because it loves us. Those savvy peeps know it’s a great way to drag Windows XP and Windows 7 users kicking and screaming to the all-singing-all-dancing upgraded Windows 10.
Reports on the performance differences between Windows 7, 8, and 10 vary hugely, with some users reporting minor improvements of around 5 frames per second, while others claim drastic improvement. It varies wildly between games and gaming machines, so this isn’t an entirely reliable performance indicator. So Windows 10 isn’t going to overhaul pure performance that much. Aside from anything else, not only does performance vary game-to-game and machine-to-machine, it’s also impacted by background tasks hogging CPU cycles, among other things.
So Why Should You Upgrade?
Well, aside from gaining access to DirectX 12, there’s a number of other highlights with Windows 10. Chiefly, thanks to some intricate and intelligent coding, Microsoft have managed to make an all-encompassing techno-system that spans their tablets, smartphones, PCs, and games consoles, with Windows 10 and a variety of compatible apps at the epicenter. Universal apps and cross-platform play pan the divide between PCs, consoles, and mobile devices to create the first truly interconnected platform. To bring further interconnectivity, Xbox Chief, Phil Spencer, indicated that XO will soon officially support mouse and keyboard gameplay.
Image courtesy of pcmag
What Can XO Owners Do With Windows 10?
Now we all know that Microsoft has tried, several times, to turn its PC gaming output more Xbox-y, yet they’ve never really managed it. The previous attempts never quite lived up to expectations and were something of a let down. Even the Smartglass app that lets you use mobile devices as second screens to display maps etc, is very limited. However, with the introduction of Windows 10, it looks like Microsoft has finally cracked it.
Windows 10 has a pre-installed Xbox app that allows players to connect to their consoles and provides an Xbox-style PC gaming dashboard. You can also access your friends list, messages, and Xbox game information directly from your PC. As a comparatively open platform, it also lets you access games you purchase from services like Steam through your Xbox One console. For every Windows 10 device, apart from smartphones, you’ll have access to Microsoft’s Game DVR software, so you can record game footage and grab screenshots, then upload to your highlight reel or share between your PC and XO.
For closer interaction across the Microsoft technoscape, Windows 10 has the capability to allows cross-platform play. So, you can play an Xbox One game on your console with people playing from a Windows 10 PC.
Essentially using the Xbox One as a local server, beginning later this year, gamers will be able to stream games from their console to their Windows 10 PCs and tablets. Potentially, users will also be able to stream games from the PC to the XO.
The Xbox One Interface
With Windows 10 for desktops, tablets, and phones, comes a complete overhaul of the Xbox One interface. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of Cortana, previously only seen on Microsoft’s tablets and smartphones. Now she’ll sit in the left of your screen, awaiting your commands, such as messaging another player or performing an Internet search. You also have fast access to streaming, party chat, and your friends list.