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Gears 5 severs ties with UWP for Windows 10 PC release

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has dropped its UWP app platform for Gears 5 for Windows 10 (opens in new tab).
  • Gears 5 will utilize Win32 via Steam and the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft continues to revitalize its PC gaming efforts, committing to first-party experiences built around the mouse and keyboard, alongside ancillary services led by Xbox Game Pass. The accompanying Microsoft Store has evolved with this transition, welcoming a wave of PC games tapping into the Win32 API, as developers failed to embrace Windows 10's Universal Windows Platform (UWP). And with Gears 5 soon headed to Xbox One and PC, it appears Microsoft is among the latest distancing itself from UWP experiences.

Gears 5 shows potential for a strong PC debut, expanding to Steam alongside a wealth of PC-tailored tuning. The title also surprisingly boasts support for Windows 7, and now appears to be entirely ditching UWP app platform. With functionality regularly falling short amid the platform's infancy, it seems Microsoft is the latest to fall back on the legacy API for its next blockbuster.

Microsoft Store and Steam variants now shift to Win32, as confirmed by Liam Ashley, Senior Community Manager at The Coalition. The move brings the flexibility of such applications, overcoming compatibility hurdles UWP titles faced with underlying changes.

Early plans for Universal Windows Platform were truly modern universal apps that let developers build once, scaling across device types, and phasing out legacy experiences. Microsoft has built out its UWP gaming technologies in time but still falls behind decades of work backing Win32. While UWP seemingly has a future at Microsoft, it looks to have taken a backseat, not only in gaming.

In the meantime, Gears 5 remains available for preorder, ahead of a slated September 10 launch for Xbox and PC.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

28 Comments
  • Here we go again... I guess the future of modern computing is to run 5 emulation layers?
  • "I guess the future of modern computing is to run 5 emulation layers?" I'd say Virtual Machines, not emulation layers.
  • Container have a smaller footprint that a VM though.
  • If they can do it via Container that would be great.
  • The future of modern computing is the cloud. Locally installed software will be obsolete within the next decade.
  • So the cloud running 5 emulation layers so we can use a Windows 95 piece of software. 😜
  • I see where you are coming from but I have to disagree. People still want hardware to play games on it gives the best experience. Cloud computing is getting bigger but look at chrome os as an example of doing day to day things.
    Cloud is another evolution of computing but it will not replace the physical box but work along side it.
  • Everyone said the same thing about PC gaming and physical discs.
  • Jesus ******* christ..
  • I'm still not seeing evidence of the Store succeeding.
  • My understanding is that the store and UWP have nothing to do with each other. The only reason games like Sea of Thieves was a windows store exclusive is because platforms like Steam don't support distributing UWP apps. UWP != windows store.
  • UWP and Store have nothing to do with each other. > Steam don't support distributing UWP apps
    I think this is the main reason. Pros and cons between packing a win32 and UWP into MSIX.
    1) they are both sandboxed.
    2) both can be sideloaded.
    3) uwp+MSIX (contains binary for win32, win64, arm64, etc) supports WinClassic and WCOS.
    4) win32+MSIX supports WinClassic and WCOS BUT, will prob run like sxxt on an arm64 CPU.
    5) win32+exe supports only WinClassic (cause Store only accept appx and MSIX, and it's better this way for security, clean-install-uninstall and other reasons).
    Somethings like that maybe...
  • I always wondered why Steam never did support UWP. Maybe is to show the middle finger to Microsoft?
  • Mid-finger or lazy?
    Plus, maybe a lot of their API, OS tampering and stuffs won't work if store and games become sandboxed.
    But... years later, I think Valve will have to swallow the fingers itself. First things first. WinClassic is not ment for IOT, Xbox, AR, MR, gigantic screen, small screen, dual screen, triple screen, Hub, whatever future HW architecture and form factors.
    It's not modular. It's not designed in a Core-Composer way. It's too heavy (slow + drains battery a lot faster) with all the legacy stuffs. So, IMO,
    1. there's just no way going backwards.
    2. it's more developer friendly having WCOS around.
    3. it's the only possible way to achieve Edge Computing (it's the next 10~20 years and will impact societies). Well, if Valve start making new Steam and start urging devs to support UWP and MSIX / appx... new Steam and new games can support both WinClassic and WCOS, older games cannot... Steam users might riot. If Valve start urging devs to support UWP and MSIX... might really benefit MS... Anyway, with or without Steam, Xbox ecosystem (XPA and xCloud) will be there (everywhere, actually). ps: AAA devs have their own distribution network or platform to support, but xCloud, might just be the kick, to push indies into supporting XPA.
    1. Streaming? Native solution is more reliable. It can run even when internet / service is unavailable.
    2. xCloud won't work when you are on a plane, and will prob suck when you are on a bullet train, in some basement or behind thick walls.
    3. xCloud is not feasible if you don't have a unlimited 4g/5g plan.
    4. What if you are living with someone else? 4K 60fps realtime streaming will occupy a lotta bandwidth.
    So, supporting XPA... has an advantage over the ones that only use xCloud.
  • I only came for the comments.
  • Seriously, though, what does this mean for Play Anywhere? Does this affect cross-buy, cross-save, and cross-play at all? Are Win32 titles compatible with the Play Anywhere program, including all of its features? Are there any downsides to the switch? Will we see fewer Play Anywhere titles from third-party and independent publishers as a result? Et cetera? This doesn't seem like good news.
  • In the Microsoft Store on my Windows 10 machine Gears of War 5 shows being a "Xbox Play Anywhere" title.
  • Nah, they'll "invent" some backporting technology to make the Windows Runtime components available to Win32 applications like they did with UWP XAML Islands for Win32 and legacy .NET applications.
  • Good news for gamers who wanted to play this game and don't use or aren't fan of UWP.
  • Difference between packing a win32 or UWP into MSIX? They are both sandboxed.
    UWP supports x86, x64, arm64, etc HW... don't think win32 will do well on arm64.
    * Well, Gears is prob too heavy for a mobile processor anyway. xCloud might be the solution.
  • Play Anywhere is just a flag they put on a game, it's not related to how it's packaged.
  • No, none of that will be affected. The only real thing that's going to happen here is that there are now fewer steps for game devs that want to have their games on Steam *and* the Microsoft Store or Game Pass for PC.
  • Gears 5 supports Play Anywhere. So I'd say it's fine. Most normal people don't care what a game is made on just that it's made and available from places they want to buy it. Which in the case of the PC is usually Steam.
  • OFF TOPIC, guys if I buy Gears Ultimate Edition now (Physical), Di I get the remastered version of 1,2,3 for free?
  • No it's only a remastered version of the first game, Gears of war 2&3 wasn't remastered, nor will it be.
  • I’m ok with this. Guess this means I could dust off and configure my steam controller to play this.
  • kind of make sense in this case, if you have to support win7 and steam... can't wait that win7 will reach EOL and hopefully Steam will support UWP
  • Windows 7 is pretty low on Steam's list of used operating systems compared to Windows 10. As I said above, nobody in the real world cares about UWP, win32 or any other jargon. Just that the game is where they want it to be.