XNA in or out of Windows 8?

UPDATE:   Feb 1, 2013

Microsoft Officially Drops support for XNA:

This email was sent out to DirectX/XNA MVPs today:

The XNA/DirectX expertise was created to recognize community leaders who focused on XNA Game Studio and/or DirectX development. Presently the XNA Game Studio is not in active development and DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology. Given the status within each technology, further value and engagement cannot be offered to the MVP community. As a result, effective April 1, 2014 XNA/DirectX will be fully retired from the MVP Award Program.

There’s actually a fair bit of information packed in there, and I think some of it is poorly worded. The most stunning part of it was this: “DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology.” That is a phrase I did not expect to hear from Microsoft. Before going to “the sky is falling” proclamations, I don’t think this is a death sentence for DirectX, per se. It conveys two things. Number one, DirectX outside of Direct3D is completely dead. I hope this is not a shock to you. Number two, it’s a reminder that Direct3D has been absorbed into Windows core, and thus is no more a “technology” than GDI or Winsock.

-from Promit’s Ventspace

Update: From Build Fall 2012 XNA is a Zombie
With the unveiling of Windows 8 at Build new questions have arisen as to the viability of XNA in a Windows 8 world. I believe the controversy started in the talk about  XBox LIVE development in Win8. For a very long heated and panicky forum post you can read about it on AppHub, I’ve read it (mostly.. there are a lot of posts there) and i believe the most salient points from the XNA’s heavy hitters are:
 Shawn Hargreaves
It is correct that XNA is not supported for developing the new style Metro applications in Windows 8.But XNA remains fully supported and recommended for developing on Xbox and Windows Phone, not to mention for creating classic Windows applications (which run on XP, Vista, Win7, and also Win8 in classic mode).Based on what was announced at //build this week, it’s really all down to what platform you are targeting. If you want to develop games for Win8 tablets, we recommend C++ and D3D11 (or XAML or HTML5 for more casual stuff). Whereas if you want to develop for Xbox or Windows Phone, XNA is where it’s at…There are many valid options for developing classic mode Windows games. XNA is a supported technology for doing this (just like it always has been), as is native C++, or .NET interop to native D3D, or any of the billion and one other programming products that target Windows.”we don’t comment on unannounced future plans in forum posts”. Sorry!

 The ZMan

http://twitter.com/#!/chrisgwilliams/status/114065959026819073 “Just confirmed w/ Jon Lam. No XNA on Win 8. Wow… Stunned.”http://twitter.com/#!/jamesashley/status/114053314982854656
Just left the DirectX session after asking if xna would be on win8. Answer: nope. How did we all miss this in the pre-build rumors?”Get out your C++ books guys…
These are the facts that we know:
  1. XNA 4.0 (and probably 3.x, 2.0 and 1.x) games will continue to run on windows 8 as will all (with the usual rare exceptions) old software.
  2. They will however not run as ‘metro’ apps – we don’t know 100% what this means but XNA was not one of the listed ‘primary’ APIs
  3. XNAGS4/VS10 (and probably GX3/VS03 etc) will continue to run in Windows 8 – again backwards compatibility ensures this. Previous VS versions install side by side so there’s no reason for VS10/11 to not do the same thing
  4. XNA4 apps like all native/non metro apps are welcome in the marketplace – again we don’t know 100% how this will work
These are the things we don’t know or we suspect or we have heard rumors of
  1. We don’t know the ARM story for native apps so what will happen to XNA that interops to native DX9 (though heck what will happen to Office too!)
  2. We don’t know if there is any future versions of XNA
  3. We don’t know if there will be any VS11/XNAGS integration or if anyone continuing with GS4 is stuck with VS10
  4. We don’t know if there is plans for a managed API for accessing DirectX – right now the official statement is use C++/DX11 so it doesn’t sound like it.

Your old installers should work just fine – windows is amazing when it comes to backwards compatibility. Nick – is there an official statement on support of XNA on ARM. We know that XNA will be supported on classic desktop but does that apply on ARM too?

Nick GravelynThere is not an official statement; we (Microsoft) are not currently making announcements about Windows 8 on ARM.

WinRT is the name for the APIs and runtime. “Metro style applications” refers to the larger environment and application model around WinRT (including, but not limited to, the “Metro” UI style). As such if you write an app using WinRT you are writing a Metro style application. To be as clear as I can be, XNA Game Studio will not support WinRT or Metro style applications in Windows 8.

and in response Patrick Klepek posted a response he received from Microsoft:

“XNA Game Studio remains the premier tool for developing compelling games for both Xbox LIVE Indie Games and Windows Phone 7; more than 70 Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone and more than 2000 published Xbox LIVE Indie Games have used this technology. While the XNA Game Studio framework will not be compatible with Metro style games, Windows 8 offers game developers the choice to develop games in the language they are most comfortable with and at the complexity level they desire. If you want to program in managed C#, you can. If you want to write directly to DirectX in C++, you can. Or if you want the ease of use, flexibility, and broad reach of HTML and Javascript, you can use that as well. Additionally, the Windows 8 Store offers the same experience as the current App Hub marketplace for XNA Game Studio, providing a large distribution base for independent and community game developers around the world.”

Lastly the The official Windows Developer Preview guidesays the following:

Graphics DirectX gaming power underlies Windows 8, so you have several options when creating Metro style game apps. You can write full-screen, chrome-free games with smooth, flicker-free action using HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3. Or, write impressive 2D and lightweight 3D games using XAML with managed C# or Visual Basic. You can also use the full processing abilities of modern graphics hardware using native C++ and HLSL with DirectX 11.1. Create immersive games using the power of DirectX The new Windows 8 graphics stack is better integrated, making Direct2D, Direct3D, and DirectCompute components easier to use together and requiring fewer duplicated resources than before. Capabilities previously available only in XNA, such as DirectXMath, XAudio2, and XInput, are now available. For the ultimate experience in gaming and video, use DirectX 11.1 to bring stereoscopic 3D to your apps.

What does this mean? Well According to the WinRT Graphic presented @ Build: Windows 8 API We immediately see that all your existing apps built on XNA (my modification to above): Windows 8 API Showing XNA Stack in Pink Will Work Just fine! Alternatively you can look at Doug Seven’s take on the WinRT API: Doug Seven perspective of WinRT API

Which shows the verticals for game development and XNA development slightly more realistically WRT the influence and contribution to the execution engine running on top of the Windows Kernel. From both perspectives XNA 4.0 runs on Win8.

So what is everyone up in arms about?

It is this statement:

…”the XNA Game Studio framework will not be compatible with Metro style games..”

Really? A quick binging and one can see that Windows Live is still going to be offered: Which to anyone following Microsoft and XNA is of no surprise, in fact Windows 8 opens up new avenues of development for XNA Developers, which are far more exciting that cautionary. However, Preston Moore @ pMotion posted that when he attempted to interact with XNA from VS2012 there was no Content pipeline, no access to the controllers, and even the most boiled down XNA code proved problematic!!! However in VS2010 there were no problems setting up and building “Legacy” XNA games. So where’s the real problem? It’s in the seaming”orphaning” of the XNA approach in the App Store as selling your apps will not be done through the Metro App Store. This seems contrary to the presentations at build… see
Charles Cox talk from//Build, but is confirmed again and again.

Windows 8 improvements to Game Development

First feature of note is:

During the second day of BUILD, Microsoft announced that there will be cross-platform gaming between Windows 8 and Windows Phone. [^]

Second feature of note:

During the third day of BUILD, Microsoft announced that there will be opening up XBOX LIVE. [^]


XNA may not be involved in future iterations of Microsoft’s offerings on platforms running WinRT, for that you’ll need to look into WinRT development avenues, but as for XNA you may still be able to use it in Legacy Mode…  There will be some programming avenue for game developers..!

About Larry Louisiana

I'm a Microsoft Partner Consultant.
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet, Game Development, News and politics, Programming and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to XNA in or out of Windows 8?

  1. tailsfox88 says:

    Great article and well summed up. However, I would like to make one correction if at all possible.
    When you quote my article “Windows 8 and XNA” in the article, you incorrectly name me “Mike Preston”. My actual name is “Preston Moore”.
    Not a big deal, I’m thrilled to see that my article and research was quoted by someone. Thanks a ton! 🙂

  2. It was fortunate that someone listened and introduced XNA to Silverlight (as MVP I talked about it constantly since 2007/08), so chances are that by Silverlight, XNA will not die;)
    How Microsoft does not want to support XNA – open source team who is developing beautifully MonoGame (which is working on iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, MacOs!) – is a guarantee of further development of this great library.

    • louisila says:

      Yeah but unfortunately Silverlight itself isn’t making the conversion to WinRT unscathed… I truly hope that we get some love from Microsoft on this one…

  3. louisila says:

    I’ve Updated the post based on new developments….

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