Phil Spencer on Upcoming Windows Store Improvements and Why Win32 Isn’t Natively Supported

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Jun 14, 2017
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Head of Xbox division Phil Spencer promised that Microsoft would take better care of PC gamers and so far, he has delivered. All of Microsoft’s first party games are now available on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, not to mention that several of them are part of the Xbox Anywhere program and feature cross-platform play and cross-buy.

However, there’s still work to be done particularly when it comes to the Windows Store, even though some of the initial issues within the UWP environment have since been fixed.

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Speaking to PC Gamer at E3 2017, Spencer detailed some of the improvements Microsoft is planning for Windows Store.

We’ve got more work to do on [the Windows] Store, clearly. I hear the feedback on that.

I think what you’re likely to see from us, the term I use is “One store, multiple storefronts.” From payment instruments, where all my entitlements are, you want one store on the platform, our at least our store, that knows where you are and what you own.

But when I want to go buy Forza content, a lot of that’s going to happen right in the Forza shell of the game itself. I do think with the Xbox app we could build a more curated pure gaming front-end for core gaming. Right now, our Store has this disadvantage of being everything. From buying a book, to buying a movie, to buying a song track, to buying an app, to buying a game. And relative to my experience on GOG or Steam or even Origin and Battlenet and stuff, those are more direct core gaming front-ends. We have work to go do there. We’re thinking about how we can build that experience.

He also explained why the Win32 model isn’t natively supported in Windows Store and revealed their strategy for widespread adoption.

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We’ve talked about Centennial and how we’ve made it easier for Win32 apps, maybe legacy Win32 apps, to get into the Store and get wrapped in something that kind of makes them emulate a UWP on the platform. That’s something that’s important because as you and I both know there’s such a base of Win32 code that’s out there.

I get a lot of questions about why we wouldn’t just natively support Win32. There are some issues with Win32 as a long-term app model. It’s not really an app model. The idea of an app model wasn’t really around when we went from—I was at Microsoft when we went from Win16 to Win32, I remember those translations—so I definitely think we have more work to go do. My view is we will gain UWP adoption when UWP is more functional than msi + Win32. And we’re not there yet.

But that’s the path that we’re on. How do we go make uninstall, install, cleanliness of install, manageability both for the customer and the developer, and the portability when a developer wants to take advantage of that, something that exceeds the ecosystem of Win32 + msi as a way to get things installed. And that’s when we’ll see wide adoption. And that’s the path we’re on.

We’ll keep you up to date with any Windows Store improvements Microsoft will introduce to the platform.

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