In the last few weeks rumors have surfaced that Microsoft may be working on a new operating system that specializes in video games. It is likely part of a more modular approach to Windows that has been rumored for some time now that features different ‘modes’ of usage.
The rumored ‘gaming’ version of Microsoft’s operating system is reportedly allows games to be played on PCs (and possibly other devices) using an Xbox controller. It is assumed that it will act similarly to the current ‘Game Mode’ on Windows 10 and build on it as well as the ‘Game Bar’ further.
With the ‘Game Bar’ Microsoft placed features gamers use within easy access – most notably a screen recorder for Windows 10 games, and support for livestreaming. In contrast the ‘Game Mode’ featured more robust optimization that trimmed out unnecessary background processes and allocated more system resources to games to improve their performance.
Although the current ‘Game Mode’ in Windows 10 is far from perfect, it does help increase performance – particularly on mid-range systems. High-end systems however often find its optimizations unnecessary, and in some cases it may even prevent background processes from running when the system is powerful enough to support both the game and the additional processes.
In theory a more specialized gaming OS could take that optimization several steps further, and improve optimization of system and network resources more effectively. On top of that it could potentially allow for other improvements, such as overclocking, frame rate monitoring, virtualization, and more.
It should be noted however that the first glimpse of this specialized gaming OS may not even be on PCs, but rather on Microsoft’s upcoming ‘Andromeda’ device – the ‘foldable’ notepad-like device in leaked patents. While news regarding Andromeda is limited to speculation, it is expected to be revealed by the end of this year.
Another announcement that may also shed light on the ‘gaming OS’ may come in the form of the Surface Hub 2 that is slated to be unveiled within the first half of the year. The successor to the original Surface Hub is expected to be the first Microsoft device to run on Microsoft’s new ‘Composable Shell’ (C-Shell), and will presumably be joined by Andromeda at some point.
C-Shell is a more modular variant of the current Windows Shell and is meant to be highly adaptable to cater to the needs of different devices and different modes. With it, Microsoft hopes to be able to deliver a more unified Windows that spans different devices. Unlike the current approach where Microsoft has multiple versions of its Start Menu to cater to different devices, with C-Shell it would build a single version that then adapts based on the device and mode it is using.
In other words Microsoft’s ‘Gaming OS’ is likely to be one of the modes in its future more modular operating system. Because of the modular nature of C-Shell and the design that underpins it, the ‘Game Mode/OS’ would be better able to exclude legacy functions that hold back the current version of Windows. That should make it better at optimization, and turn it into a more dedicated tool for gamers.
The desktop version of the modular OS is currently codenamed Polaris, and while there is no official word as to when it will surface more details may be in the upcoming announcements later this year. It is currently unknown whether Polaris will be its own operating system, or a new version of Windows 10.
Although details are still scarce regarding the ‘gaming OS’ or ‘modular OS’, the direction Microsoft appears to be moving in is clear. That direction isn’t new, and is something that the software giant has remarked on in the past. In fact if anything their focus on more ‘gaming-oriented’ optimizations is in line with the view that gaming will be more and more relevant to desktop systems in the future.