Software

Microsoft crashes the party with a new version of the Windows 10 Xbox app

The Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update has created major problems for certain gamers. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of problems that should never happen.

hero

Image: Microsoft News

The Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the first major update to Windows 10 since its release in July 2015 and it's a pretty big deal. The update offers new features, including above the login screen application access and improved security. These enhancements make the installation process, which can be rather long, worth the wait.

SEE: Microsoft Stream: The future of secure business video

However, as with any major update to an operating system, there are going to be problems—it's inevitable. Some of these problems are caused by unanticipated conflicts and interactions with previously installed legacy software. It is just the nature of the complicated information technology environment we all deal with on a day-to-day basis.

But other problems are much less inevitable and therefore much less forgivable. A few stem directly from an overzealous attempt to change the collective behavior of users in order to turn a profit. This is the kind of problem I ran into with the Anniversary Update—and the solution was a bit bizarre.

It's in the game

I am a PC gamer and have been for many years. One of my go-to games is World of Warcraft, which is gearing up for the Legion expansion on August 30, 2016. After installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update onto my gaming PC, I started to experience game crashes when playing WoW. When I investigated, I found out something interesting.

The Anniversary Update includes a new version of the Windows 10 Xbox app, and one of its default settings turns on a feature called Game DVR. According to the Battle.net technical help forums, this setting was causing some systems to crash hard. To regain control of the PC, users had to perform a cold boot—never a good thing.

Image A

Image: Mark Kaelin—A demon hunter

The recommended fix was to change the setting for Game DVR to off, which worked for me, but I was not satisfied. I don't have an Xbox and don't have any use for the app, so I decided to uninstall the Xbox app completely. Oddly enough, there is no normal uninstall function associated with that app and several other apps that come with Windows 10. It turns out you have to use PowerShell to remove them. That is a little ham-fisted, don't you think Microsoft?

SEE: Colorize the Windows 10 inactive title bar with this handy HTA

Learn a lesson

This a perfect example of a company trying to force a change in user behavior rather than enticing users to change their behavior on their own. Instead of something pleasant and desirable, the result is something annoying, confusing, and frustrating.

I understand that Microsoft is trying to create a gaming community for both Xbox gamers and PC gamers—that is actually a good strategy. By connecting the console group with the computer group, Microsoft can create a larger population of interactive users and, most important, potential consumers in the Microsoft Store.

But this is not how it should be done. Microsoft should create a community infrastructure that gamers want to participate in. To be successful, consumers should be practically demanding to get involved. Microsoft needs to build a community so "cool" that consumers will feel left out if they aren't part of it.

Forcing the Xbox app on every Windows 10 user and then removing any easy way to uninstall it just reeks of desperation. It is a lazy way to do business.

Bottom line

Connecting PC gamers with console gamers in a joint Xbox community is a terrific strategy, but it requires commitment, time, determination, and a great product from Microsoft. Placing an Xbox app on every Windows 10 device, especially when you don't fully test the consequences of that app's existence, is a recipe for disaster. Just because an Xbox and a PC can communicate doesn't mean that they automatically should communicate.

Microsoft, you need to do better. Much better.

Also read...

Your thoughts

Have you noticed anything odd in your PC's performance since the Anniversary Update? Share your experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox