Microsoft has confirmed plans to unify its varying platforms under the Windows 10 banner, including the news that gamers will be able to share purchases across multiple devices.
Microsoft has already indicated that gaming will form a core part of its Windows 10 launch later this year: DirectX 12 will be exclusive to the platform and bring promised performance improvements for all graphics hardware, while the company recently demonstrated the ability to stream games from its Xbox One platform to tablets running Windows 10. Now, the company has revealed more details on the Windows Universal App Platform.
According to details released by Microsoft at the Game Developers Conference this week, the Universal App Platform will make it easier for developers to write a single app that can be used on Windows 10 phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, console and even the new HoloLens AR platforms. For buyers, though, the bigger news is that the Windows Store will be shared between all devices. Should a developer offer a particular app or game on more than one Windows 10 platform, cross-buy will be supported: meaning that a game available for phones, desktops and the Xbox One could be purchased once and installed and played on any of the available platforms.
It's something rival Sony has been trying for years: many of its games purchased through the PlayStation store can be downloaded on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita consoles for a single price. Microsoft's vision, however, goes still further - but will require buy-in from the developers, who will be left with the ultimate choice of whether to even release multiple versions of their software and then whether to enable cross-buy support or force gamers to rebuy the same content for access on different platforms.
Microsoft has also reiterated plans to open up its Xbox One software development kit (SDK), promising to bring it to 'a broader set of developers
' and include access to 'the vast majority of Xbox Live services currently available under Xbox One, under a shared set of APIs, integrated with the Windows Store
.' The company is still coy, however, on when it will release a firmware update to enable SDK support on all retail Xbox One consoles - something that formed a central pillar of its pre-launch promises for the platform.
Other demonstrations made by the company during the event include a wireless adapter which allows all wireless Xbox One controllers to work with Windows 10 PCs, a 20 per cent performance boost in the upcoming Fable Legends thanks to DirectX 12, and the impending launch of a five-on-five third-person battle arena title dubbed Gigantic from Motiga.
Full details of the company's announcements at GDC are available at its Xbox Wire website