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New Windows 10 updates add support for FreeSync, G-Sync, and unlocked frame rates

Over the last few months, Microsoft has been pushing game developers to bring titles to the Windows 10 Store with extremely mixed results. Most of the games published under the Universal Windows Platform(UWP) to-date have had significant problems, and even the handful that weren’t broken from the start have been far more limited than the version you can buy on Steam or from other digital download services. Today, Microsoft is releasing updates for Windows 10 that will remove some of these restrictions.

Starting today, Windows 10 applications will allow you to unlock the frame rate and can use both AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync technologies. The update can be downloaded here, though the blog notes that the games themselves will have to be updated to allow for them to function. “Once applications take advantage of these new features, you will be able to play your UWP games with unlocked frame rates. We expect Gears of War: UE and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex to lead the way by adding this support in the very near future.”

Microsoft’s blog post on this topic also dives into details on DirectX 12, Windows 10, and the future of the UWP initiative. One particular section on V-Sync states:

Does DirectX 12 and UWP support full screen exclusive mode?

Full screen exclusive mode was created back in the original release of DirectDraw to provide games with enhanced performance when using the entire screen. The downside of full screen exclusive mode is that it makes the experience for gamers who wish to do other things on their system, such as alt-tab to another application or run the Windows GameDVR, more clunky with excessive flicker and transition time.

We thought it would be cool if gamers could have the versatility of gaming in a window with the performance of full screen exclusive.

So, with Windows 10, DirectX 12 games which take up the entire screen perform just as well as the old full screen exclusive mode without any of the full screen exclusive mode disadvantages. This is true for both Win32 and UWP games which use DirectX 12. All of these games can seamlessly alt-tab, run GameDVR, and exhibit normal functionality of a window without any perf degradation vs full screen exclusive.

The lack of a fullscreen exclusive mode in UWP is part of why there’s been a push to adopt other frame presentation methods and why some performance monitoring software doesn’t always give feedback that matches what users see on-screen when playing DX12 titles. The FAQ notes that hybrid laptop users won’t see benefits from the new capabilities yet; Microsoft is working with vendors to create a solution to this problem.

Overall, we’re glad to see UWP evolving and improving, but nowhere near ready to recommend people use the Windows Store to buy games over alternatives like Steam. The fact is, Windows 10 titles are still locked to Windows 10 (even though Windows 8 has a store of its own). They don’t allow modding, and they don’t allow gamers to tweak INI files to modify settings as a way to bug fix or troubleshoot. Microsoft won’t backport titles to Windows 8, but until the modding and tweaking options change we’ll keep recommending alternatives to UWP, save in situations where games are only released via the Windows 10 Store.

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