The Windows 10 Creator’s Update was announced in October, at the same event where the Surface Studio was launched. It promises many new features for makers, but when makers want to unwind, they want to play a PC game. Today Microsoft is giving a glimpse at one of the new features also coming with the Creator’s Update, and it is Game Mode.

Microsoft wants to improve the overall gaming experience, and they have focused on several areas where gaming on the PC is let down, especially compared to the console where the experience is known to all parties, be them developers, or end users, well ahead of time. With Game Mode, Microsoft is continuing its steps toward bridging the divide between the gaming PC, and the Xbox.

Some parts of Game Mode have already appears in the last several builds of the Windows 10 Insider Preview, but today the full Game Mode experience will be launching as part of the latest Fast Ring preview.

Game Mode is an optional setting, which can be leveraged for either Win32 games, or UWP games. The experience will be better on UWP games, only because a UWP game has known limits on what is running, whereas a Win32 game is boundless. When enabled, Game Mode dedicates more of the CPU and GPU time to the game when it is in the foreground, which should, in theory, help with overall game performance. In an interview yesterday, Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform, discussed how this helps performance. Kevin was less concerned about peak framerate, but discussed how Game Mode can assist with a more consistent framerate, meaning less stops and stutters when the action gets intense.

Game Mode settings in the Game Bar, not enabled yet

Game Mode will set the CPU core affinity, and thread priority, the maximize the CPU resources dedicated to the game. Microsoft has found that there is a lot of thread contention when gaming, often from programs and resources that are not part of the gaming experience. The idea of a higher priority thread is not new, but enabling it on-the-fly automatically is a nice way to take advantage of this feature. System resources for other applications will be diminished, of course, since there is only so much CPU time available, so background activities that require a lot of CPU time are going to suffer. Game Mode can be disabled or enabled as needed though, allowing some flexibility here. The same idea is done on the GPU, where more GPU time slices are allocated to the game. The fundamentals are similar to how the Xbox One operates when gaming.

Game Mode will work in conjunction with other technologies which make gaming on the PC an easier experience, such as NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience, which will optimize games for NVIDIA based cards.

Microsoft has been heavily updating the gaming capabilities of Windows, ever since the launch of Windows 10, and Game Mode appears to be another nice addition. It should be available tomorrow in the next Fast Ring build of the Windows Insider Preview.

Update 01/27: Now that the first Windows Insider build of Windows 10 with the new Game Mode is out (15019), Microsoft has sent over an additional note on game compatibility.

We’re aware that the Windows Insider build going out this week has a few platform related bugs, unrelated to the new features included within the build, that are impacting the ability to play some popular games. We’re working to address these platform bugs so that Insiders will be able to take full advantage of the new gaming features coming in the Windows 10 Creators Update. For more information, please visit the Windows Experience blog.

 

Source: Microsoft

 

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  • HomeworldFound - Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - link

    If this actually does something worthwhile then cool, but if it's just another way to force other gaming platforms over to the Xbox App that'll not be pretty. I'm happy with Windows 10 because it works.

    I've purchased games despite the Windows Store's obvious deficiencies. I personally found the Xbox App a bit too invasive, it wanted to show me a game bar and it automatically wanted to cache my gameplay in case I wanted a recording. The Xbox App also wanted me to run games on other platforms such as Steam from inside the app, I promptly cleared them out of there.
    Reply
  • voicequal - Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - link

    This sounds like Microsoft trying to fix a problem of their own creation. To this day I'm still tracking down the various Win10 background processes that play loose with the CPU at times I can't control. Reply
  • brucek2 - Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - link

    On my old laptop, I often feel it is I/O contention more than CPU that is the culprit. Especially since I don't use it that often, soon after a boot a bunch of programs will all attempt to download updates and then write them out to disk. Microsoft is a chief offender. Even on my powerful desktop with fast SSD storage, today I saw the blue circle spin while browsing and sure enough resmon showed a huge amount of data being written to Microsoft's datastore.edb.

    I wish there was a way to have all those throttled generally or maybe specifically back-burnered by the disk read/write system.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    I've been wondering... will this work with FX CPUs? I'm just imagining a scenario where the OS patches have resulted in similar workloads being pushed onto the same module, only for Game Mode to mess it up again. Reply
  • MattMe - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    It would be interesting and useful if game mode could be applied to any application.
    I use Windows 10 for my music production system and having an easy way of saying "when I'm using this application (or group of applications) pause all unnecessary background actions and focus resources on this task" would be extremely helpful.

    Getting audio glitches because your computer just decided to check for updates or run a scan can be quite annoying. I know there are tweaks to get around some issues, but specifically prioritising applications like this would be an improvement.
    Reply
  • NZLion - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    I don't need this functionality personally, but I do understand your requirement, and I hope you can trigger it for %arbitrary_app%.
    It's been possible to play with CPU affinity and foreground or process prioritization on every member of the NT family back to at least Win2K, but putting all that at the click of a button and having it pause other background tasks too stands to offer real benefits to a significant number of people
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Friday, January 27, 2017 - link

    The way they descibe it now, you have to call their gaming overlay from the application and turn the option on. So, if you manage to fool 10 into thinking you`re running a game, why not? Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    So this is basically a bug fix to address Windows' poor management of system resources when user land applications contend with trivial (often unnecessary) system tasks like telemetry collection and reporting. Why not just build a leaner, less resource-intensive OS to begin with? It'd be easier to do that than to glue on another layer of resource management to bloat things up further and introduce potential bugs. I know people are infatuated with the idea of a "turbo" or "sport" mode but using that poorly thought out lust as a way to cover up the fact that a game mode should never have been necessary to begin with is silly. Reply
  • Zak - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    Xbox crap and GameBar are one the things I get rid of quickly when installing Windows 10. I don't care for the "the divide between the gaming PC, and the Xbox" if getting rid of it means making Windows gaming like Xbox gaming. I don't want to see that green logo anywhere on my PC.

    Windows gaming abilities are fine, thank you. Just leave it alone, Microsoft. All you will manage to do is to f*** it up.
    Reply
  • Zak - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    And the same goes for Nvidia and their GeForce Experience: bloated crap that only manages to break games. Just let the games run without adding extra bloatware to "improve the experience". Reply

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