Windows 10 UWP Now Supports Uncapped Framerates

Whether the Universal Windows Platform is salvation or damnation, destroyer or redeemer, or something difficult-to-categorise and not-quite-as-much-hyperbolic-fun in the middle there, it is at least now a bit better for games. Microsoft this week issued a Windows 10 update giving UWP support for unlocked framerates and adaptive sync tech like Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s Freesync, which were pretty big absences. Not many games are built on UWP yet, mostly Microsoft-published stuff like Quantum Break and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, but if we’re to see more of UWP in the future… and that’s where the doomsaying comes in. Ah, I’ll explain that in a minute.

First! The (very) basics: UWP is a software platform built into Windows 10, intended to let devs easily make stuff which works across different devices from PCs to tablets to HoloLens. We’d not normally mention software architecture because it’s a bit too techy, but UWP has become a bit controversial due to Microsoft placing soft restrictions on running UWP-based software. I’ll come back to that.

On to the framerates! As Microsoft explain in a blog post, this week’s Windows 10 update lets UWP software unlock framerates and use adaptive framerate syncing. Which means UWP games would run as quickly and as smoothly as they can, whether it’s through fancy expensive monitors or simply spitting frames at regular monitors (which can lead to tearing). Either way, this is commonly expected of PC games – especially amongst people who pay big bucks for beefy PCs.

However, this won’t come automatically. Developers will need to add support for these features, so you might need to wait for your UWP-built games to work with it.

Another hiccup: folks with laptops packing both integrated graphics and a discrete GPU (c’est moi) aren’t currently able to disable vsync. MS say they’re working on that.

Microsoft have also said before that they’re working on making UWP software support typical PC gaming features like mods, software overlays, and support for multiple GPUs. Maybe, if we wait a few years, UWP might become as useful for players as the old way is now.

Right! So! What’s that about UWP being the world of the world as we know it? Epic Games co-founder chap Sweeney declared UWP “the first apparent step towards locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce.” The issue is that, unless users change a setting, Windows won’t install UWP software unless the devs register with Microsoft and submit it for approval. Given how uncomfortable most people are with touching anything technical, this is a problem if UWP is to be the foundation of future Windows software. If devs want to use UWP’s fancy new features, practically they’ll need to go through Microsoft. That’s a lot more restrictive, clunky, and fussy than the old PC way.

Sweeny’s opinion certainly hasn’t gone unchallenged, mind. Microsoft issued a rebuttal, then Sweeney returned with a proposal for “an open UWP ecosystem”, and… I have nothing useful to add myself. Just rounding it up for y’all, okay.

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  1. TheGamerDad says:

    I still don’t understand how this is supposed to be better than Steam or GOG, nor do I understand how this is supposed to be a better alternative for developers. PC gamers already love Steam and GOG; and for all of the complaining that people have with it I don’t have a problem with Uplay. Microsoft is actually touting this as “we’re better even though we’re way more restrictive!” How is that supposed to be better?

    • ZIGS says:

      It’s not supposed to be better

    • pepperfez says:

      The goal is for it to be better because, unlike Steam and GOG, you will be able to buy games on it in the future.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I have no idea what that means? Care to elaborate?

        • benkc says:

          It’s a roundabout way of saying that this is Microsoft attempting to lock out other stores.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            Except that it’s not. Sweeney was just spreading FUD (I’m sure it was a complete coincidence he also started being a pro-Linux zealot around the same time.)

            UWP apps can be sold at any online store. It’s a development framework that Microsoft hopes will create more apps in their ecosystem, but it’s not a tool for locking things down like Sweeney claimed.

          • RobF says:


            I don’t understand this. Do you *really* think that both Gabe Newell and Tim Sweeney are stupid and they’re spreading lies or… no, sorry. I don’t understand.

            What UWP is being used for is really obvious. Now, I can understand if you don’t mind it but denying that it’s a step on the road to replacing Win32 when that’s a very clear intention is boggling. It won’t be soon but do you really think they’re doing this just to maintain a flagging storefront? Does that actually make sense to you?

          • RobF says:

            *step on the road to replacing Win32 *and* to funnel as much as possible through Microsoft and their store.

          • aepervius says:

            Mokinokaro UWP depends on the will and good grace of microsoft to certify the application. Therefore it is not open. As soonas you have a non independent certification authority, you have got a walled garden and you are not open anymore.

            To give you an example of that : iOS and apple. You cannot get *every* application certified. They have set some standard e.g. if I remember correctly for example anything involving scripting and possibly other subjects they find touchy.

            If Microsoft for example decide to not certify an app, what is your recourse ? None. That is why it is not open in any kind of sense.

    • Dinjoralo says:

      It’s better for Microsoft, and that’s all that matters.

    • Don Reba says:

      The developers will have to pay Microsoft instead of Valve or GoG, which is clearly better for Microsoft.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It isn’t. UWP wasn’t designed for PC gaming and it never should have been used. It’s not even required to get it onto the Microsoft store.

      The whole point of UWP is that you write a core app and add UIs to it to get it on every version of Win10. The Facebook UWP app works the same regardless of it being on a phone, tablet or desktop PC. It also allows for Continuum. It’s a nifty little feature that means you can stream your phone to a TV/monitor and instead of just cloning your phone screen it is a desktop version of Win10. The UWP apps likewise show up on the TV/monitor as desktop apps and not the mobile version on your phone.

      That of course means sod all for PC gamers because you aren’t going to get Rise of The Tomb Raider on your phone. The benefits just aren’t there.

      Ideally they should have worked on a PC and XboxOne gaming variant of UWP and left the existing UWP for MS Word and tower defence games.

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      basilisk says:

      UWP is not a store. I’m afraid you’re comparing apples and oranges there.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        But you can only officially obtain UWP apps from the Microsoft Store the same way you can only get Steamworks via Steam or Apple’s Metal development tools only work on apps sold through the iOS app store.

        They development tools are so closely linked to a specific store you can easily consider them as the same entity.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          No, they’re not actually locked to the Microsoft Store. The only reason the current UWP games are exclusive is because they’re microsoft published.

          UWP apps and games will be available everywhere. It’s a development platform like .net, not a distribution/sales platform.

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            basilisk says:

            Exactly, yes. The question I was responding to might as well have read “how is Win32 better than Tesco”? That’s not a question, that’s gibberish.

            As far as I know, no one from Microsoft has ever said that UWP apps would only be available from the Windows Store, because that would be frankly insane. It’s just a reheated version of the old “Windows 8 is going to turn Windows into a walled garden” which, as it turned out, was complete nonsense. Because of course it was. If Windows ever did that, it would spell the end of Windows. I honestly don’t think Microsoft is dumb enough not to see that.

            Is it meant to replace Win32? Clearly, yes. But that is not a problem in and of itself.

          • Don Reba says:

            It’s just a reheated version of the old “Windows 8 is going to turn Windows into a walled garden” which, as it turned out, was complete nonsense.
            Because it failed, not for lack of trying.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            Basilisk, the whole point of the Microsoft Store is that Microsoft doesn’t want a WinXP situation again. It’s why the sideloading option is in the security settings and why turning on sideloading comes with a warning.

            Outside of any commercial reasons Microsoft only allows the installation of signed UWP via their store is so they can minimise any security issues. Allowing installation of signed UWP from other sources decreases that security.

  2. Frank V. says:

    There is a microsoft store?

  3. eclipse mattaru says:

    Sweet! I guess in a year or so maybe we will be playing games just the way we have been playing them for the last couple decades!



    What was the point of this whole thing again?

  4. AthlonBoy says:

    Windows 10 has allowed UWP “sideloading” by default since the November update. Any UWP program can be distributed as a .appx file and installed by any user.

    Unlike InstallShield or other install methods, a UWP .appx installation keeps a program contained within its own directory. This is supposed to solve inconsistencies with file locations, such as how no two games put save files in the same location.

    Also, the change to allow unlocked framerates in borderless windowed mode applies to win32, developer permitting. If their performance claims hold up, there’s no reason to use exclusive fullscreen any more.

    • Don Reba says:

      It only allows sideloading applications from registered developers that have been approved by Microsoft, just as the article says.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        I can see why you read it that way but that’s not what Alice is saying. You can only obtain UWP apps if the dev registers with Microsoft and submits it to the app store or you sideload it.

        The setting can be found via;

        Control Panel -> All Settings -> Update and Security -> For Developers -> Sideload Apps.

        Alice is reiterating Sweeney’s point that you can’t obtain security checked UWP apps from a 3rd party website.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      So if I want to back up my saves I have to go to hundreds of different folders… how is this better than the old broken system again? :P

    • praxcelis says:

      I’ve got no problem with Microsoft having a Windows store and selling games through it. But I do have a problem with Microsoft using UWP to manipulate developers and gain an advantage over other options (such as Steam and GOG). I would not be surprised to see Microsoft restrict full access to all DirectX features to UWP-only games.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        And how are they using UWP to manipulate developers?

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Everyone is conflating UWP with the Microsoft Store (and the Linux fanboys are spreading all sorts of lies about it that are not helping) when they are two completely separate entities.

          UWP has nothing to do with the Microsoft Store. It’s a development platform.

          • Emeraude says:

            And Steamworks have nothing to do with the Steam shop.
            The success of one hasn’t in any way been dependent on the way the way the existence is intrinsically linked to the other.

        • praxcelis says:

          Look, I’m not saying Microsoft is doing anything now with UWP, but being Microsoft and knowing their past, I don’t trust them. If and when UWP games are sold through Origin, Steam, wherever a publisher wishes, then yeah, okay… no worries. But somehow I doubt that will happen. Excuse me for being cautious.

  5. Bing_oh says:

    So, is UWP part of MS’s proposal for cross-platform gaming?

  6. BenAttenborough says:

    Ah for a return to the Amiga games. You didn’t have to go through all this to play Cannon Fodder, Turrican 2 or Speedball 2. Just a dodgy mate with some cracked disks…

  7. Hobbes says:

    The simple answer is for game developers to actively refuse to use UWP, and to market their games as being free from the taint of UWP with some kind of label that makes it clear that it’s not infested with Microsofts’ garbage. In the same way that DRM-free has become something of a useful term these days for people, maybe getting the industry to flat out reject UWP and force MS to drop this asinine attempt to put up a walled garden around the PC ecosystem (because it wants a slice of what Apple is getting) will push them back into working on making Windows 10 less of a disaster.

    • Geebs says:

      There’s nothing really wrong with app signing – the walled garden approach works pretty well for iThings in the sense that there’s somewhat less malware than you find on Android – and, if you want signed software, the OS manufacturer is the safest option (witness the slew of incompetent-to-criminal web certificate authorities).

      UWP has inherited a lot of the problems the Apple model has with gaming, though. Apart from the usual performance-sapping effect of wrappers and the generally poorly-regarded OpenGL implementation, MacOS is pretty aggressive about treating games as equals to other apps – they don’t get to hog system resources, no excusive fullscreen, etc. Consequently, gaming on the Mac is wretched. MS has screwed up by trying to publicise their otherwise-pretty-good-for-apps platform with the sort of resource-intensive 3D action games that are a terrible fit for it.

      • Don Reba says:

        App signing restricts modding, and that’s a pretty major wrong.

        • Geebs says:

          You’re quite right; what I was trying to say was “signed code isn’t intrinsically wrong for the general-purpose App model”, but restrictions on mods are part of the reason why I would argue that app platforms like UWP don’t really suit PC gaming.

  8. PikaBot says:

    Apart from games produced by Microsoft itself, it seems vanishingly unlikely that UWP will catch on with game developers. At the moment it’s strictly worse than distributing your games the old-fashioned way, and I’ll be shocked if substantial improvements come in a timely manner.

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    Benratha says:

    Can someone please comment if the UWP platform now also supports SLI/ Crossfire? I had a feeling this was also missing…

  10. Avus says:

    In 2016, we are talking about uncap framerate, no full screen and racing games that released without steering wheel support…. Is PC gaming tech going backward?

  11. Ancient Evil says:

    Four years ago, when Windows 8 was revealed, some people took the introduction of Metro and the Windows Store as a sign that Microsoft was going to kill off the desktop in the next version and turn Windows into an iOS clone. Never mind that this makes no sense whatsoever for Microsoft even from a perspective of pure greedy self-interest, as it would destroy the central reason for Windows’ continued dominance (the software ecosystem), tank their OS irreversibly, and utterly ruin Microsoft as a company. Nonetheless, this is what people believed.

    Then Gabe Newell went on an incoherent rant and kicked these sentiments into overdrive among the PC gaming community. Never mind the fact that Newell has every incentive to stoke such fears as the Windows Store is a direct (albeit insignificant) competitor to Steam – and with SteamOS, Valve is now also a direct (albeit insignificant) competitor to Windows itself.

    Slowly, painstakingly, most people came to their senses, culminating in the realization with Windows 10 that the desktop paradigm is going absolutely fucking nowhere, and that the Windows Store is of minuscule relevance to their computing lives.

    Now, in 2016, Tim Sweeney goes on an incoherent rant and we’re all the way back to square one. What remains four years later as nothing more than an ailing, unfinished storefront has once again been blown up into a threat of apocalyptic proportions. PC gaming is doomed! Microsoft is coming for everything we hold dear! How will this terrifying, unspeakable menace of a marginal, half-baked app store ever be stopped? Hide your children, for the end times are upon us!

    Just kill me already.

  12. JuiceKup says:

    Looks like GabeN saw this coming from quite afar with the Linux pushing and whatnot.