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Microsoft Phases Out XNA and DirectX? 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-farewell-auf-weidersehen-goodbye dept.
mikejuk writes "It is reported that Microsoft has sent an email to DirectX/XNA MVPs which informs them that they are no longer needed because XNA and DirectX are no longer evolving. What does this mean? If you don't need MVPs then presumably you anticipate nothing to support in the future."
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Microsoft Phases Out XNA and DirectX?

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  • Something was said in that article but I am not sure what...
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:18AM (#42758869)

      I think everyone is just as confused. Its really unlikely that MS is ditching D3D. The standard joke is "embrace extend extinguish" but... extinguish makes no business sense here. It's more likely they are trying to collect everything under their "apps store" like Apple has. Presumably steam understood this better (and earlier) than everyone else, and that's why they're making another basket for their eggs.

      • Or at the most possible extreme, they could just be switching to GLES to help push developers towards Windows8 RT (since it's pretty obvious they're in catch up mode at the moment).
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vintermann (400722) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:16AM (#42759269) Homepage

      Premature abbreviation is the root of all evil.

  • Use OpenGL instead (Score:5, Informative)

    by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:13AM (#42758851)

    All the growing platforms use OpenGL. Even Windows can use OpenGL (although it is not tyhe favored child). If you have an eye on the future, it makes far sense to develop with OpenGL. That way you can develop shaders that will work on: Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, Windows, Unix, embedded devices (eg. commercial avionics), the PS3. What you miss out on is XBox 360 and Windows Phone. Compare the combined size of the coverage of OpenGL platforms to the Direct3D-only platforms. There is simply no contest anymore in terms of units shipping and growth rate.

    OpenGL is the future of hardware accelerated graphics. The nice thing is that no matter what changes in the hardware/platform space you investment in OpenGL is never lost, it comes across as you migrate.

    • by Tough Love (215404) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:23AM (#42758883)

      OpenGL is the future of hardware accelerated graphics.

      And the past, and the present, just to round out the hat trick.

    • It's worth mentioning that the entire article is based entirely on speculation on a rumor, but:

      Unless you absolutely need to lock yourself into a limited, closed platform (for example, you want to develop XNA on xbox and there is no other choice), why would you ever want to do so? There is no good reason.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        (for example, you want to develop XNA on xbox and there is no other choice)

        Well, that is one of the most used gaming platforms on earth... it's not a small reason.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          But with OpenGL you get all of the other most used gaming platforms put together. That's much larger than locking yourself to the Xbox.

          (Windows runs either, so if you wish to include it, it counts on both sides, thus not changing the outcome).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:43AM (#42759127)

        Because XNA is actually a pretty good framework embedded in a really good toolset and there's really nothing that matches it in terms of ease, speed, and quality of development without also losing much real flexibility and power to do what you want to.

        I agree with you for the most part, I'm using OpenGL now because XNA at least does have an awful lot of uncertainty under it with the fact Microsoft have chosen not to support it in RT and Visual Studio 2012, suggesting there is indeed no future for it, but if you just want to make games as say, a hobbyist, and don't really care about sales figures or market reach then XNA is your best bet, especially if you work a full time job - XNA can mean the difference between having time to embark on such a project alongside work, and not. A lot of this comes down to OpenGL's inconsistency of support meaning more bug hunting, more time and effort to setup, and the fact the API design is dated and often painful to work with and that the only language it was really developed hand in hand with - C, isn't exactly a productive language (unless you have to use it, for performance concerns). XNA being developed hand in hand with C# is partly what made it excellent to work with because it was a modern framework design melded with a modern language.

        But for what it's worth I think there's another point in OpenGL's favour, Microsoft have a long history of failing to provide graphics API stability, GDI, GDI+, WPF 2D/3D, DX, MDX, XNA, and so on - so many APIs over the years have come and gone with support disappearing to a large extent or even completely. It's one of Microsoft's developer weak points.

        I've always been a fan of Microsoft's graphics APIs and have always defended them over OpenGL because they haven't had most the headaches OpenGL causes, but even I'm fed up now of the fact that each graphics API has a lifespan of a few years, that if you upgrade Visual Studio you can likely no longer use the integrated tools for that API for years afterwards, if at all. It's just gotten stupid at this point and has become such an overriding concern due to the frequency of the problem that all the benefits are now irrelevant.

        • Microsoft have a long history of failing to provide graphics API stability, GDI, GDI+, WPF 2D/3D, DX, MDX, XNA

          Failing? Hardly.

          GDI and GDI+ still work on Windows 8 - this is what WinForms is built on. These have been stable for years now.

          WPF was recently updated for .NET 4.5 [wikipedia.org], so obviously that's dead in the water.

          DirectX is alive and kicking on the PC, as is XNA on PC and XBox.

          The only one MS don't want you using at all is MDX, which is why they created XNA.

        • by JDG1980 (2438906)

          But for what it's worth I think there's another point in OpenGL's favour, Microsoft have a long history of failing to provide graphics API stability, GDI, GDI+, WPF 2D/3D, DX, MDX, XNA, and so on - so many APIs over the years have come and gone with support disappearing to a large extent or even completely. It's one of Microsoft's developer weak points.

          GDI hasn't gone away – it's still the core Win32 rendering API. Microsoft may be encouraging people to use its newer technologies, but GDI is still s

        • "but if you just want to make games as say, a hobbyist, and don't really care about sales figures or market reach then XNA is your best bet, especially if you work a full time job - XNA can mean the difference between having time to embark on such a project alongside work, and not."

          This doesn't make sense. In your day job, you'd be a fool not to use the most efficient tool that your budget can afford. With hobbies, turnaround times and efficiency matter less than the pleasure you get from doing something yo

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Unless you absolutely need to lock yourself into a limited, closed platform (for example, you want to develop XNA on xbox and there is no other choice), why would you ever want to do so? There is no good reason.

        Right, but developing for it doesn't mean you would lock yourself into it, no developer in their right mind would build a game engine relying solely on one particular platform-specific API. This goes all the way back to the days where we had to support S3D, Glide, CIF and others side-by-side. Obviously guys like the Limbo developers weren't 'locked in', it's available on XBLA, PS3, Windows and OSX.

    • by cnettel (836611)
      OpenGL has been far more fragmented in terms of the numer of vendor extensions you needed to use for a long time to get access to recent functionality. However, I think that the theory in the article, that this actually refers to DirectSound/DirectInput/DirectDraw etc, is quite credible. Direct3D has changed quite a bit in recent years, including grafting Direct2D onto the 3D-style framework.
      • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:13AM (#42759433)

        OpenGL has been far more fragmented in terms of the numer of vendor extensions you needed to use for a long time to get access to recent functionality.

        Your OpenGL knowledge is clearly out-of-date. The extension mechanism still exists, of course, but is not needed to get GLSL shaders that have advanced functionality.

        • by cnettel (836611)
          Note "has been". Since this is more due to the way the API is managed and developed, I would expect it to happen again whenever serious new functionality is introduced. I would also believe that this will happen. The ever increasing performance, with different constraints on computation power versus bandwidth versus expected quality makes it hard to believe that either current OpenGL or current Direct3D are fully mature and will now not change.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        I'm actively developing OpenGL ES 2.0 for android and one constant source of frustration is the quality of tools, documentation and examples. The tools are really bad since the nearest thing to syntax hilighting is the standard C editor and there is no way of telling if a shader will work or not without trial and error. The problem with documentation and examples is of another issue - there are so many different versions, bindings and implementations of OpenGL that it is very hard to find what you want in a
        • by samkass (174571)

          I'm actively developing OpenGL ES 2.0 for android and one constant source of frustration is the quality of tools, documentation and examples. The tools are really bad since the nearest thing to syntax hilighting is the standard C editor and there is no way of telling if a shader will work or not without trial and error. The problem with documentation and examples is of another issue - there are so many different versions, bindings and implementations of OpenGL that it is very hard to find what you want in all the noise. You might come across a seemingly good example and discover it's no use because it's fixed function or uses the wrong version of GL.

          iOS has some really nice development tools. I don't port to Android, but for those that do I've heard an iOS-first, Android-second strategy can produce better Android apps because the toolset on iOS helps debug and optimize the software faster and better. It might be worth looking into.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      I'd rather see an open DirectX spec ported to other platforms than see OpenGL take over everything.

      • by non0score (890022) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:45AM (#42759137)
        I'd rather we scrap both and start anew. Both of these abstraction layers are wholly inadequate for modern GPU architectures. Just the fact that both of these APIs are architected on the idea of single-threaded CPU cores building out a single, final command buffer is completely antiquated (even with DX's addition for parallel command buffer building).
        • by Joce640k (829181)

          I think the abstraction works quite well for most cases.

          Is it worth re-architecting for the handful of cases where it doesn't? It seems unlikely.

          There might be a case to be made for delayed rendering and more frame-buffer composition, but even they'd still use the "single-threaded CPU cores building out a single, final command buffer" paradigm.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          ....wholly inadequate for modern GPU architectures.

          The GPU architectures are designed around the APIs so it's not like existing GPUs would work a lot better if driven differently.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          There is barely any abstraction at all in OpenGL ES 2.0. You load the GPU with shaders and tell it to render from buffers. There is no fixed function pipeline at all which undoubtedly comes as a "pleasant" surprise for anybody trying to port code to 2.0 from 1.1.
          • by Joce640k (829181)

            What OpenGL needs is a library for fixed function and immediate mode layered on top of OpenGL ES. The emulator would make porting OpenGL->OpenGL ES easier without being an albatross around the neck of the API (and of the OpenGL driver writers who'd be free to concentrate on with their OpenGL ES implementations).

            This is what OpenGL basically is these days. The trouble is that nobody's free to dump legacy code and go with pure OpenGL ES on the desktop, they're forced to go through all the layers. These peo

            • by DrXym (126579)
              I think pretty much everyone recognizes fixed function is toast. If you need that sort of thing then you probably need something higher level which expresses the world as a scene.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yep. DirectX 11 is quite well finished (and it only took them eleven iterations to get things figured out...!), but I doubt Microsoft will let Apple or Linux license it anytime soon.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:50AM (#42759171) Homepage

      All the growing platforms use OpenGL.

      No, they Use OpenGL ES.

      Even Windows can use OpenGL

      ...just not OpenGL ES.

      OpenGL is the future of hardware accelerated graphics.

      It might be. If they finish OpenGL ES (make it support missing desktop graphics card features), then actually allow people to use it on the desktop.

      Unfortunately most of today's graphics cards will never have a working OpenGL ES driver so we're looking at five or ten years before it's worth trying to use OpenGL ES on the desktop, if ever. It's too little, and far too late.

      • by Molt (116343) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:23AM (#42759629)
        OpenGL ES is essentially OpenGL with the parts which embedded hardware can't handle removed, and so adding the functionality to support the missing desktop graphics card features would either result in the normal OpenGL again, or an oddly forked version based on where embedded hardware is today. Also it's not that hard to run an implementation of OpenGL ES on the desktop today, it's the basis of WebGL and Chrome and Firefox both happily run it, the render loop is changed to accommodate the fact it's running in a browser but other than that it's pretty much the same OpenGL ES you'll find elsewhere.
        • by Joce640k (829181)

          OpenGL ES is essentially OpenGL with the parts which embedded hardware can't handle removed.

          No it isn't.

          Also it's not that hard to run an implementation of OpenGL ES on the desktop today

          Still hard, though.

    • by dkf (304284)

      What you miss out on is [...] Windows Phone.

      Oh no! Save me!

      Seriously, who really cares about that platform? It's just not got the market penetration. Now, the 360 has the penetration, but the hardware there is looking rather elderly; the visual quality of the platform is noticeably worse than its competitors and it's pretty clear it needs a platform-refresh or successor, which would be a reasonable time to ramp up support for OpenGL.

    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:41AM (#42759503)

      The big problem with OpenGL is that the shaders are not guaranteed to run in bounded time. DirectX doesn't have that problem, and the OpenGL emulation layer on top of DirectX unrolls the shaders, and for the ones which won't run in bounded time, just throws them away.

      When Chrome implements OpenGL on Windows, it runs it through its own code which does the same thing and preflights it, then renders the OpenGL which will run linearly and in bounded time via DirectX.

      The Linux and Mac OS X versions hand the OpenGL to the user space renderer or to the kernel-based renderer, respectively -- there are significant performance advantages to OpenGL on Mac OS X compared to Linux because of this; this ends up being most apparent on portable devices, which have a limited memory copy bandwidth (read: ARM devices), which is why Android doesn't directly use the Linux graphics model, apart from the inability to use binary drivers in kernel space due to EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL().

      But both the Linux and Mac OS X OpenGL renderers take the shaders without preflighting them, as is done on Windows when converting to DirectX calls, and so it's possible to crash the user space driver on Linux, or crash the Mac OS X kernel, on Mac OS (the disadvantage you get in exchange for the reduced copy overhead relative to Linux).

      I tried unsuccessfully for several months to try and convince the Chrome graphics guys to run the preflight portion of the Direct X converter on Linux and Mac OS to prevent these crashes on these platforms, to no avail. It'd be more processing, but no more than is already done on Windows, in exchange for a significant improvement in stability for OpenGL/OpenGL ES/WebGL/NaCl on both platforms, which is probably worth the additional processing cost, given that the bottleneck is copying, not processing, on the portable platforms. There are cycles to burn on the desktop systems, even if you'd prefer not to burn them, it's probably worth it for the stability.

      In any case, a lot of game developers try for a lot of effects with shaders, and most of them are more concerned with the visual appeal, rather than in running in bounded time and not eventually crashing the system. DirectX protects them where OpenGL doesn't -- except on the Windows platforms they use for development, and that doesn't help get these games stable and running on Mac OS X or Linux, which is what you'd hoe the portability of OpenGL code would have bought you.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        The big problem with OpenGL is that the shaders are not guaranteed to run in bounded time. DirectX doesn't have that problem

        Has Microsoft solved the halting problem?

    • by DrXym (126579)
      I expect most developers wishing to target DirectX and OpenGL would write their shaders in Cg which is NVidia's proprietary shading language. The tool spits out the equivalent shader script in GLSL or HLSL.

      Doesn't help much the other geometry stuff but I would not be surprised if the two APIs are largely analogous such that most of the differences can be abstracted away behind some utilities or some other for of separation, e.g. by using a 3rd party development platform like Unity.

  • It Means (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:15AM (#42758855) Homepage Journal
    Too many people got too good at writing DirectX emulation layers. Obviously someone fell down on the job, or Valve wouldn't have managed a Linux port. Watch for new incompatible "standard", soon.

    Cynical? This isn't my first rodeo. I watched them kill off OS/2, pretty much exactly the same way.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it just means their public pr relations dev money is being targeted towards Metro so they're shutting down older pr programs.

      however.. keeping the mvp system alive wouldn't cost them a damn thing if they didn't do anything with it... and obviously it's not assumed that sw with these techs would be removed from pipeline from all companies.

      it's just a reshuffle of their developer PR though. hard to say what it really means.

    • by mvar (1386987)
      So very true. I really hope they do this and it backfires
    • Re:It Means (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:46AM (#42759151)

      True. Having said that, IBM did not really help. While OS/2 was in many ways a 'better DOS than DOS', as they promised, it fatally lacked support for non-IBM devices in the early days... I remember trying to install on a very-standard config beige box, and sixteen disettes later getting nowhere.

      Called up an ex-colleague in IBM, who got me through to a senior dev in the OS/2 team. "Ah, we've never tested it on a non-IBM machine...better buy a PS/2..."

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        it fatally lacked support for non-IBM devices in the early days...

        Indeed. IBM viewed OS/2 as a way to promote PS/2 hardware, and in fact the /2 in each was not a coincidence. It was a common belief not just with IBM but many companies at that time that software was just a necessary feature for moving hardware out the door.

        Apple never really gave up that theory and almost died because of it, and if it were not for the emerging portable market they'd still be just a bit player, and now we see again that Android is doing the same thing to them in the portable space that D

      • by DrXym (126579)
        OS/2 2.1 onwards were pretty easy to set up on non-IBM hardware. I didn't encounter a machine which didn't work with them. That said, OS/2 had so many other issues that hurt its own chances of success that someone could write an essay on the subject.
      • by Greyfox (87712)
        Oh, yeah, IBM didn't help, and the attitude inside the company was that PCs were toys and if you wanted to do real computing or real multitasking you'd buy an RS6K and run AIX (At a minimum.) People wanted to run their windows apps, and for a while around the Warp timeframe, it seemed like Microsoft was rolling out new versions of DirectX and other APIs about once a week.
    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      For THAT to be true MSFT would have to have a CEO with vision, evil vision but vision nonetheless, and what we have seen in Ballmer is just "What is Apple doing? Lets do that but poorly" so until I see some proof i'm gonna have to call bullshit. If Gates were running the show? then I'd be right there with ya but frankly Ballmer couldn't pull off the EEE maneuver if you drew it out in crayon and came up with a little song to go with it.

      More likely they had trouble getting DirectX to run on his precious WinPh

  • Luckily.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..there's MonoGame [codeplex.com].

  • DirectX is fine (Score:5, Informative)

    by TonTonKill (907928) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:38AM (#42758921)
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:10AM (#42759013) Homepage

      So, were they lying then, or are they lying now? Either way, we seem to be getting different story from anonymous PR bunnies in unspecified divisions.

      Me, I get the vague impression that Uncle Fester is losing his grip, and that Microsoft's System Lords are preparing to carve mini-empires out of the wreckage when it comes off the rails.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        So, were they lying then, or are they lying now? Either way, we seem to be getting different story from anonymous PR bunnies in unspecified divisions.

        Me, I get the vague impression that Uncle Fester is losing his grip, and that Microsoft's System Lords are preparing to carve mini-empires out of the wreckage when it comes off the rails.

        Is that PHBs?

      • by rk (6314)

        If there were a "+1, SG-1 Reference" mod, you would've gotten it.

    • by game kid (805301) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:29AM (#42759075) Homepage

      One thing that the NBC Universal--Comcast thing taught me was that "inaccurate" != "false". (They said news about the merger was "inaccurate". They merged anyway.) Here we go again.

      In short, I'm not convinced that either system will survive the axe, and you should probably just polish your HTML5-optimized-for-Metro-or-whatever-it's-called-now (or OpenGL?) skills if you still want to make games for Windows:

      1. They never reversed the actual decision to retire the two from the award program.
      2. They did not mention that XNA or its MVP award...status...program...thing would not be axed.
      3. "Microsoft is actively investing in DirectX as the unified graphics foundation for our key platforms, including Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows. DirectX is evolving and will continue to evolve. For instance, right now we’re investing in some very cool graphics code authorizing [sic] technology in Visual Studio." - it's great that they're still developing it now, before April 1, 2014, but what about after?
      4. "We have absolutely no intention of stopping innovation with DirectX, and you can quote me on that." - this didn't start because we thought would somehow "[stop] innovation with DirectX" (a concept as nebulous as fuck, because they could be taking it to mean that, e.g., they'd try to actively prevent people from using a newly-deprecated API, instead of just deprecating it). No, we wondered whether they'd stop developing, supporting, and maintaining the platform after the stated date, aaaaand *crickets and a coquí or two*.

      So will both die on April 2014? In the words of $got_talent_judge, "I vote Yes."

  • Unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:41AM (#42758931) Homepage

    It's very unlikely that Microsoft will abandon DirectX. It is afterall the reason why most games for the PC are Windows-exclusive. If they OpenGL becomes king, porting to Linux will be a lot easier. Windows will be dumped by a lot of people whose only reason to keep a Windows desktop is gaming.

    • Sure, but every PC game sold is potentially one less XBOX game sold, some forces in Microsoft actively work against PC gaming ... the Windows 8 team hard selling the upgrade with a new windows 8 exclusive DirectX version and Windows 8 exclusive games isn't helping either (with Windows 7 they had the courtesy of porting the new driver model to Vista, courtesy is lost on them now).

  • by SpazmodeusG (1334705) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:02AM (#42758985)

    As anyone who deals in this knows XNA is a dead end and DirectX most certainly is not. They are retiring the XNA part of the XNA/DirectX MVP.

    Link [zdnet.com]

  • by eksith (2776419) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:02AM (#42758989) Homepage
    Did we learn nothing from the x-surface debacle [tumblr.com]?
  • M$ derailed the graphics industry with their strongarm tactics a long time ago. There were already really good graphics api's when directx was shoved bodily down the throats of developers. The only way DX would have been acceptable is if it would have been available to all platforms, not just windows. OpenGL would have/will open gaming up across almost every platform available now. I keep mentioning games because that was where I was always most involved and interested, but having a fully developed and

  • XNA and DirectX are no longer evolving

    For these years, I had operated under the assumption that source code was edited & compiled.
    Gosh, the stuff you learn on /.

    • XNA and DirectX are no longer evolving

      For these years, I had operated under the assumption that source code was edited & compiled. Gosh, the stuff you learn on /.

      You jest, but as a Cybernetician, I think that evolving could be the right word when it comes to Microsoft. They could be using genetic programming [wikipedia.org] from what we've seen of their leaked sources, it smacks of natural selection. Dead sections of DNA (code). Vestigial features left in because no one knows what might be using it. Off-by-one mutations (errors) everywhere, that'll either spawn more bugs (features) to fix them, or be removed from the gene pool (patched) if they prove fatal.

      It's almost as if

  • I'll say it again. They are in a completely new ball game.

    Don't be surprised if they don't abandon the windows code altogether and adopt Linux or BSD code. I can even see they selling the windows base or spinning it off with it's own company and keeping a big portion of the stock.

    All they need is make an API for a GUI for devices and hardware that can run on a kernel/platform. Then they focus on developing a device ecosystem and taking their 1/3 commission from developers selling in their app store. Basica

  • windows/xbox gaming is going to a dead end monopoly, controlled by Microsoft.

    they are probably releasing new (expensive) tools, full of MS controls and checks (DRM) with their apps store, so all new games must use their store... and paying MS more and more.

    As a side "feature", it will probably also break the wine compatibility for new games during the next several months/few years

  • Microsoft is continuing their current trend of re-inventing the wheel and making everything different, yet the same. For instance Windows RT, the UI development framework, is strikingly similar to WPF, albeit with some strange and head scratching changes that make sense to only that one guy at Microsoft. I would imagine that Microsoft is probably going to re-brand DirectX or XNA into some unified framework that has a Metro-y Windows 8 like feel to it, maybe merging development across PC, mobile and consol

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Friday February 01, 2013 @10:20AM (#42761121)

    Something people need to understand is the writing has been on the wall for DirectX for some time now. This is not unexpected news to those of us invested in the platform. What I interpreted from this is that DirectX isn't going to evolve (and that XNA is effectively dead, but we've known this for a long time), but that doesn't mean Direct3D, what most people tend to consider when they think of DirectX, is going anywhere. There will always be a need for high performance graphics rendering and it isn't likely going to be OpenGL on the Windows platform.

    They've been turning Direct3D into a typical windows component without any extra special treatment since 2011 when they merged it into the Windows SDK. It's just one small piece in the cog of platform technologies.

    I can't say I'm pleased with this turn of events, but I can't say I'm particularly surprised, either.

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