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TheFlightSimGuy

Why the Windows Store is BAD news for PC users

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Hey Everyone,

I know many of us are looking forward to DTG Flight Simulator which will be offered on the Windows Store and Steam (which is where some of us currently enjoy FSX Steam, X-Plane, and DCS). The Windows Store was Microsofts push to show that it has a commitment to the PC market, but also to try and create some cross compatibility across its various platforms, such as X-Box/Hololens/Mobile, etc. At first glance this seems like a good thing. One (in theory) could play a FIFA sports game on the PC with a friend who is using an X-Box and so on. But below the surface, this has turned into a disaster for high end games on the PC. Let me explain...

 

A new game known as "Rise of the Tomb Raider" was recently released, as the latest in the famous franchise following Lara Croft through her adventures in the wilderness. It is a very advanced PC game with remarkable amounts of technology built on the "Foundation Engine" built by Crystal Dynamics. It is really one of the first AAA titles to be released on the Windows Store. But, many have noticed that there is a terrible difference between the Steam version and the Windows Store version on PC. 

  • Some of the biggest issues are:
  • VSync is forcibly enabled, which means that no matter your configuration, you cannot get rid of it even in the .ini settings of the game. 
  • There is no SLI or Crossfire support, which means the plethora of technology that has been implemented, cannot take advantage of modern tech.
  • There is no traditional "EXE" file, so even if you wanted to, you cannot add it to a third party launcher (such as Steam)
  • It can only be played in Borderless Full Screen, which means some monitor configurations are not compatible and it kills many folks to do streaming or recording with some programs such as Fraps.
  • The mouse cannot be bound to the screen
  • You cannot use Nvidia Inspector or Catalyst Control panel to change settings
  • The game files are completely locked which prevent any modding whatsoever, even including SweetFX and ENB launchers

So why is this? Well, there is a system, that Gabe Newell of Valve called "A catasrophe for everyone in the PC space", known as "UWP" or the Unified Windows Platform. In theory this platform should allow desktop apps to be used on mobile devices and consoles such as X-Box as well. The problem is in the "Unified" part of the name. Essentially what it does, is unify the framework of the programs, across those platforms with the emphasis being on the lower powered hardware's compatibility with the PC based software. So essentially, the software is scaled to meet the demands of the hardware that is non-PC based. 

 

Now this has nothing to do with graphics or engine capabilities, but rather the environment that the operate within. So if you buy a Windows Store program, it will be limited to the capabilities of the UWP framework, not to that of Windows. 

 

So in conclusion, I hope this gives you all something to think about. when purchasing applications for your PC and especially when considering which platform version of DTG Flight Simulator and Flight School to consider. Windows Store may even be cheaper (they are running some great deals on the aforementioned "Rise of the Tomb Raider") but they are not worth the discount if you are looking to maximize the capabilities of your PC. Steam should be your choice, if and when you are presented with an option to purchase an application between the two platforms.

 

Here are some references for you to read:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/02/microsoft-needs-to-stop-forcing-console-like-restrictions-on-windows-store-pc-games/

https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/45tqqy/quantum_break_and_why_windows_store_exclusives/t1_d0030be

http://www.howtogeek.com/243012/why-you-shouldnt-buy-rise-of-the-tomb-raider-and-other-pc-games-from-the-windows-store/

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I'm still running Windows 7 so I couldn't use the Windows Store anyway, but this would be a deal-breaker for me:

 

"VSync is forcibly enabled, which means that no matter your configuration, you cannot get rid of it even in the .ini settings of the game."

 

I run too many other sims and games where VSync causes problems. 

 

SLI/Crossfire doesn't matter to me personally, although I know it's still a big deal for some. I think as GPU tech moves forward with continuing advances in miniaturization and heat control, this will be seen as a legacy kludge.

 

The next big graphics frontier is having enough GPU grunt to run VR, and the specs I've seen for running Oculus Rift and the Vive are single card based. Anyone using multi-monitor setups will just get that extra GPU power in a single card as a bonus, riding the VR wave (I could be wrong about this).

 

For what it's worth, X-Plane has never supported SLI/Crossfire because (according to a dev blog) the SLI approach is actually slower for pushing texture-based graphics to the screen in X-Plane's graphics engine, compared to a super fast single card. SLI/Crossfire isn't always a magic bullet for better performance.

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Hey Paraffin, the graphics card and game engine companies are working on GPU per eye so each eye image gets rendered basically simultaneously. Eye tracking and foveated rendering just missed the gen one headsets but likely will be in gen two. Foveated rendering looks like it cuts GPU horsepower required pretty much in half and if people do dual GPUs for GPU per eye, that's almost a doubling of GPU power. Put it all together and that could be four times the performance at current resolution, or, it could possibly allow doubling the resolution of current screens at the same performance level as now without foveated rendering but on a single card. SLI doesn't work for VR but GPU per eye does and support is starting to roll out.

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I'm still running Windows 7 so I couldn't use the Windows Store anyway, but this would be a deal-breaker for me:

 

 

I run too many other sims and games where VSync causes problems. 

 

SLI/Crossfire doesn't matter to me personally, although I know it's still a big deal for some. I think as GPU tech moves forward with continuing advances in miniaturization and heat control, this will be seen as a legacy kludge.

 

The next big graphics frontier is having enough GPU grunt to run VR, and the specs I've seen for running Oculus Rift and the Vive are single card based. Anyone using multi-monitor setups will just get that extra GPU power in a single card as a bonus, riding the VR wave (I could be wrong about this).

 

For what it's worth, X-Plane has never supported SLI/Crossfire because (according to a dev blog) the SLI approach is actually slower for pushing texture-based graphics to the screen in X-Plane's graphics engine, compared to a super fast single card. SLI/Crossfire isn't always a magic bullet for better performance.

 

My post isnt about any one specific feature or whether or not you personally use it. It is to highlight the fact that, as Nvidia puts it, "the way games are meant to be played" is severely limited for PC users through the Windows Store. If you would like to use it, then more power to you, but for many folks who may not be aware of its limitations and why they exist, I wanted to make a public service announcement. 

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I agree. I bought Tomb Raider to play it on Steam Link on my TV. 

 

That didn't work out because there is no exe! 

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Just another MS Windows Fail to add to the list. They do get some things right but just not everything

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As I've never used Steam, to keep things equally balanced, what are the disadvantages to purchasing from there please?

 

Thanks

Phil

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As I've never used Steam, to keep things equally balanced, what are the disadvantages to purchasing from there please?

 

I've used Steam for years with only one problem, and that was when I had a flaky Internet connection. The default setting is for Steam to have a constant Internet connection so it can do a quick authorization check every time a game is launched (DRM, basically), and also so it can download new patches and updates to Steam Workshop mods automatically. That's very convenient.

 

However, if you have a flaky Internet connection, it can lock you out of a game unless you use the "offline" feature of Steam, which allows launching a game without a connection. However there is a Catch 22 -- you have to be online to switch to that offline setting. So if your connection suddenly drops without warning, you're stuck. At least that's how it used to work. I haven't used offline mode in a while, since I'm on a very solid connection now. It's something you might want to set ahead of time if you're traveling and using Steam on a laptop, for example, away from Internet access.

 

The only other concern I've had about Steam is that it's an "all eggs in one basket" approach for the majority of entertainment software I own. But in practice it's been worth the convenience. I also don't like spreading my credit card info around too many places or remembering too many login passwords, so there's that. When my old computer died suddenly last Summer and I replaced it, it was easy to re-download all my current games from the Steam "cloud." The only other installations I had to do manually were X-Plane (which I bought from the .org store) and a few other things like Rise of Flight and Elite Dangerous which have their own storefronts.

 

So I have no real complaints about Steam. It mostly stays out of the way as a game launcher and auto-updater service.

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Oh dear

This might be a deal breaker for me as I am not a fan of Steam.

As a previous poster said you can run in offline mode as long as you set it while online however this only works for 7 days I believe ,then you must go back online again.

Another reason,although I don't know if this was a Steam or Xplane issue,but I made the mistake of buying Xplane on Steam and while those that bought from the .org store quite happily got the latest updates and beta offerings as they came out,those that bought from Steam waited months before they got the upgrade,despite ticking the ability to try beta builds.

I really hope DTG think about this and consider offering an option to buy through some of the better online sim stores

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Thanks Paraffin,

 

That was a really helpful, honest and unbiased overview.

 

I'm guessing you must be in my age group 50's knowing about Paraffin, red or blue ?

 

Phil

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Thanks Paraffin,

 

That was a really helpful, honest and unbiased overview.

 

I'm guessing you must be in my age group 50's knowing about Paraffin, red or blue ?

 

 

Glad to help! And I'm in the 10 years older age group. Didn't know about red or blue paraffin, had to Google it.

 

I hate to admit it, but I picked "paraffin" for my flight sim forums nic because airplanes and birds are mainly flying by means of... (wait for it)...  a pair of fins.

(rimshot)

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Best leave it here before we get struck off.

 

However before you go, if you are in the UK you must have heard of Esso Blue?

 

If you wish to continue, please pm me

Phil

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Oh dear

This might be a deal breaker for me as I am not a fan of Steam.

As a previous poster said you can run in offline mode as long as you set it while online however this only works for 7 days I believe ,then you must go back online again.

Another reason,although I don't know if this was a Steam or Xplane issue,but I made the mistake of buying Xplane on Steam and while those that bought from the .org store quite happily got the latest updates and beta offerings as they came out,those that bought from Steam waited months before they got the upgrade,despite ticking the ability to try beta builds.

I really hope DTG think about this and consider offering an option to buy through some of the better online sim stores

 

Steam doesnt deliver updates, its up to the developers to do that. So I would recommend taking that up with the developers of the product you are referencing. Steam is simply a distribution platform. 

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Pc gamer interview with Phil spencer. It seems as usual the Internet burst into flames over a reddit post and overreaction. All these issues are due to be addressed it seems.

 

"PCG: Universal Windows Applications currently don't support a lot of the features PC gamers would expect, for instance multi-GPU support, exclusive fullscreen, modding, etc. What are you doing to improve UWA functionality.

Phil: Yeah, well, we obviously have the same list, and maybe even a little longer than what the community has brought up around Rise of the Tomb Raider. Certain things will happen very quickly in terms of, like, mGPU support and stuff where there’s no policy, it’s just us working through the timeline of implementation. VSync lock, kind of the same thing. There’s specific reasons that it’s there, but it’s not something that’s kind of a religion on our side that this has to work. Modding, we’re focused on modding even on console with, like, Fallout. We obviously own Minecraft, we understand the importance of modding, and making sure that we support that in the PC ecosystem is critical to UWA success. Our goal is to make UWP [universal Windows Platform] the best platform for game developers and gamers to support, but we know we’ve got room to grow.

With Tomb Raider coming out, I think for most people that just want to go play a great game the UWA version doesn’t keep them from playing a great game. That’s not to downplay the feature list that people have sent us. I understand the need to react and to fit in in the PC gaming community with the tools that they rightfully want at their disposal. It’s in our tracking system, stuff that we’re going to get done, and we have a real path to get it done. The reason I wanted to articulate those issues and deficiencies is so that people recognise I’m not trying to say they’re not important. I’m not trying to say that, ‘oh, 90% of the people don’t even know what mGPU means so go away.’ I’m saying, ‘no, these are features we know we need to support that we know they’re not there today but we are committed to supporting in the future.’ Because I don’t want people to look at this as a passing fancy on our part of, ‘can we just quickly port some console games over to PC and hope to make a little bit of money?’ It’s not all about that. We are the Windows company, and ensuring that the Windows gaming ecosystem is strong is important, and that means supporting these features"

 

I'll be buying on steam as all my games bar a few are on steam. The windows 10 store is only just starting to be used as a delivery platform for complex games so will need some development. Anyone remember the farce that was steam in its early days?

 

Chris

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There is no SLI or Crossfire support, which means the plethora of technology that has been implemented, cannot take advantage of modern tech.

 

SLI isn't exactly modern tech. It's been around since 2004.

 

I've been using Steam since it's inception and I don't plan to change.

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