Microsoft Dumps Electron Version of Xbox App for Windows 10

Posted on June 11, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Games, PC gaming, Windows 10, Xbox with 17 Comments

Today, Microsoft will release a newly rebuilt version of the Xbox (Beta) app for Windows 10 that uses much less memory and offers better performance.

“Thank you for all your suggestions, comments, and reports to help us make the experience better for PC gaming,” Microsoft’s Megan Spurr writes. “We’ve heard your feedback on download speeds, memory usage, and general app performance, and we’re excited to announce with this update, we’ve implemented some improvements to address this. Not to get too deep into the weeds, but we have rebuilt the Xbox (Beta) app from Electron to React Native, which streamlined the app experience. The app’s design will stay the same, and it will be even easier to download and play your games.”

This is huge. And Microsoft reports that this major architectural change is delivering important improves: The new version of the app uses one-third the memory and performs faster, especially with game downloads.

Additionally, the new version of the Xbox (Beta) app supports modding.

“We have heard you: You want an easier way to mod your games while using the Xbox (Beta) app,” Spurr continues. “We are excited to share some of the first steps we are taking to improve the mod experience.  The Xbox (Beta) app now has an easy way for you to enable mods for select games where the game developer has chosen to enable them. This bring-your-own-mod environment allows you to look at mods from different mod distribution sites, download the files that are of interest to you, and enable them on the Xbox (Beta) app.”

Some of the games that will support mods initially include DiRT Rally 2.0, Farming Simulator 17, FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach, and MudRunner.

For those unfamiliar, Xbox (Beta) is basically how an Xbox Game Pass subscriber interacts with the service, though Microsoft says it will expand the app’s functionality over time to include much of the features now found in the Xbox Console Companion app as well.

You can download the Xbox (Beta) app for Windows 10 from the Xbox website.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Microsoft Dumps Electron Version of Xbox App for Windows 10”

  1. wright_is

    I've said for a long time that Electron is a lardy fail of a system.

    Hopefully they will look at doing the same with Teams next... Well, I can live in hope.

  2. gibber

    Neat. I didn't even know there were mods for FTL.

  3. scumdogmillionaire

    The fact that they themselves won’t use Xamarin is exactly why I do not invest resources into Xamarin.

  4. wright_is

    In reply to stmorr82zw5zml:

    Electron is a bloated lard bucket of a system and the code it runs is HTML5 and JavaScript, that is never going to result in a small, fast runtime solution.

    If you look at things like the SQRL client, it is 112KB in size and the author (Steve Gibson) complained that the Windows 10 compliant icon takes up 96KB... An Electron app is thousands of times as big, before you even start getting to the application code. Efficiency and memory usage are no longer important to many programmers, they'd prefer to just take the easy root.

    Writing native, compiled code is also going to result in a slimmer, faster codebase. It just means more work if you need to have it on multiple platforms. But Electron goes too far in the other direction, it just takes a "webpage" and bundles it up with a runtime browser. Heck, it doesn't even use a common runtime, you have 5 Electron apps? You have to install 5 Electron runtimes and keep them all individually patched... Not a good situation from a security or space point of view.

    Even Java would be a better option than Electron, and I hate Java.

    Edit: Electron is also a battery hog! Since using Teams, the battery on my ThinkPad T480 drains nearly twice as fast as when it isn't active.

  5. BigM72

    What does it mean for Windows development when Microsoft is using these cross-platform generic frameworks rather than their in-house stuff?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Nothing. React Native is a first-class citizen in Windows 10 app development at Microsoft. That's always been the case, btw, this isn't new. Skype is built with React Native as well.
    • eric_rasmussen

      In reply to BigM72:

      To be fair, I've always found it odd that Microsoft devoted more time to Facebook's React Native platform than to their own Xamarin technologies. The community has been trying to get something like React off the ground in Xamarin.Forms for years. For a long time Microsoft maintained the position that Xamarin.Forms is good for prototype apps, but for complex designs you should use the native Xamarin platforms with two completely separate code bases. I never understood why Forms didn't get more love, then I saw they started using React Native internally. That's when I knew Xamarin was dead, and out of spite I couldn't bring myself to use React. I learned Vue and used it with the Ionic platform, then Google came out with Flutter and I've never looked back since. Flutter is turning into what Xamarin should have been - Microsoft had a head start of years but just didn't invest the time into it to make Xamarin really shine.

  6. lewk

    Xbox takes a desirable step forward by switching from electron to react native.

    Skype on the other hand, moves backwards, switching the Skype app from react native to electron.

    It really goes to show how Skype love to shoot themselves in the foot while xbox just keeps making positive moves.

  7. Thretosix

    I don't get what the new app is even for. If it's replacing the Xbox Console Companion, are they axing the Console Companion features E.G. Console Streaming?

  8. longhorn

    I believe it is React Native using UWP. That would make a lot of sense because of Windows 10X. Electron doesn't run natively on Windows 10X and the Xbox app doesn't need to be cross-platform (Mac, Linux) so UWP is OK.

  9. codymesh

    this is good news, because the Electron app would gobble up more than 1gb or RAM (!) itself. It was a hog.

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