It’s no secret that Microsoft has been looking at ways to get people without an Xbox One to play its games, and now an early version of the upcoming Windows 10 April 2019 Update (also known as 19H1) hints at how Microsoft is tweaking the operating system to potentially make it possible to play native Xbox games on PC.
As Brad Sams on Thurrot.com explains, people who try out Windows 10 build 18334, the aforementioned early version of the April 2019 Update, also get a chance to try out Microsoft’s State of Decay game for free.
This struck some people as a little odd, as Microsoft doesn’t usually include free games in its early versions of Windows 10 – unless it was planning some big changes to how Windows 10 handles games.
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When you download State of Decay, rather than downloading the game from the Microsoft Store server (serverdl.microsoft.com), which is usually where PC versions of Xbox games are kept, the game instead downloads from assets1.xboxlive.com.
It therefore looks like you're able to download the Xbox One version of the game, rather than a PC port. When the game is downloaded, it appears in the .xvc file format, which is an Xbox One file format, and this file can be installed using the updated PowerShell application in Windows 10 April 2019 Update.
Running the file pops up a legacy DirectX installation window. The latest build of the Windows 10 April 2019 Update also adds a new Gaming Service app (Microsoft.GamingServices) which installs two drivers xvdd.sys = XVD Disk Driver (Microsoft Gaming Filesystem Driver) gameflt.sys = Gaming Filter (Microsoft Gaming Install Filter Driver).
WalkingCat, a Twitter user who is well known for digging into Microsoft’s software for clues about what the company is planning, noted that xsapi.dll = Durango Storage API, XCrdApi.dll = Durango XCRDAPI are referenced in the files, and Durango was famously Microsoft’s codename for the Xbox One.
Microsoft.GamingServices app installs 2 drivers:xvdd.sys = XVD Disk Driver (Microsoft Gaming Filesystem Driver)gameflt.sys = Gaming Filter (Microsoft Gaming Install Filter Driver)February 25, 2019
This is potentially big news, as it means that the Windows 10 April 2019 Update, and future versions of Windows 10, could play Xbox One games natively, without developers having to recode the game to run on PC.
While most Xbox One games are available on PC via Microsoft’s PlayAnywhere initiative, this new feature means it’ll be much quicker and easier for developers to get their games on PC.
It makes sense from Microsoft’s perspective, as the company has been looking at ways of making its Microsoft Store on PC and its Xbox Store on console work closely together. This move could mean there’s only one store across all devices.
Who knows, it might even mean you can insert an Xbox One game disc into a PC and run the games from there as well.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.