United States   Change   |   All Microsoft Sites

Games for Windows - Newsletter

Welcome to the Games for Windows Self-Certification Newsletter

Thanks for your interest and participation in the Games for Window Self-Certification Program. Since launching last fall, over 100 new developers have joined and are realizing the benefits of participation. This newsletter is part of our commitment to making the program easy and providing support in helping your game titles to pass technical requirements that ensures consumers a great experience. This issue contains important information that will help you to avoid common testing failures, leverage Windows 7 showcase features and better the extract value participating in the Games for Windows Program which has been designed for you.

Is Middleware Failing Your Test Results?

Games make use of numerous third party technologies, commonly called "middleware". Many of these technologies have runtime components that ship on the game media, and therefore these components are subject to the Games for Windows Technical Requirements

The most common failures seen for middleware components are:

  • Lack of manifests in executables that games are supposed to redistribute (TR 2.1)

  • Lack of manifests in setup programs (TR 3.2)

  • Failure to codesign files (TR 2.3, TR 2.4)

  • Failure to include required version information in exes and dlls (TR 4.3)

  • Occasionally we see Application Verifier failures in such third-party components (TR 4.2)

  • The redistribution requirements for the middleware make it difficult to meet Easy Install requirements (TR 3.1)

For teams with full source licensees, these issues can be fixed directly, but for binary-only licensees compliance issues must be fixed by the middleware provider.

Open Source Middleware

Many games include 'open source' libraries and middleware. As there is no true owner of these components, there is no one contact to get the components to meet the GFW standards. If a title is using prebuilt binaries of open source components, we recommend that you do not attempt to sign them. Ideally you should build the source themselves and ensure it meets all the GFW technical requirements, as prebuilt binaries could easily contain malware not expressed by the source code.

Middleware Compliance

In some cases, it is not possible to correct a Games for Windows TR violation in a piece of middleware due to various factors. Please keep the following guidance in mind.

  • No middleware component should force the game or Autorunner to always run as administrator to play the game (TR 2.1)

  • No middleware component should make the game incompatible with x64 versions of Windows (TR 2.2)

  • A lack of signing of third party kernel mode drivers is likely a blocker as well (TR 2.4) since Windows x64 requires all such drivers be signed.

  • The middleware should not create incompatibilities with Windows Vista or Windows 7, or pose a serious risk of future incompatibility.

The developer/publisher should in general not sign other company's binaries with their Authenticode certificate, as this violates one of the tenants of code signing. If the developer/publisher actually builds such third-party components from source themselves, then it makes sense for the developer/publisher to sign them.

Please send all middleware questions to gfwgen@microsoft.com.

Highlighted Showcase Feature: Direct3D 11

Direct3D 11 is the next-generation rendering API for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Games exploiting Direct3D 11 use optimized content, advanced rendering techniques, and new hardware features to create a compelling experience on hardware that supports 10, 10.1, and 11. If the game also implements Direct3D 9, a side-by-side comparison should demonstrate a perceptible improvement in content quality, visual fidelity, performance, scene complexity, and other areas of graphics fidelity for Direct3D 11. This support is subject to the Games for Windows Technical Requirement 1.7.

Direct3D 10 level 9 technology can be used to support Shader Model 2.0/3.0 Direct3D 9-class video hardware on Windows Vista and Windows 7, rather than using a side-by-side Direct3D 9 implementation for broad hardware support. However, this is not sufficient to demonstrate this showcase. On computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7 with Direct3D 11 installed, the game should default to using Direct3D 11.

The Direct3D 11 API builds on the Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) and Direct3D 10.1 infrastructure to support new capabilities: hardware tessellation, compute shaders, multithreaded rendering and resource creation, new texture compression formats, and a more flexible shader language. Direct3D 11 provides unified hardware support for modern video cards, including the latest generation Direct3D 11 parts, all Direct3D 10 and 10.1 video cards, and many Shader Model 2.0/3.0 Direct3D 9 video cards, which is the minimum video hardware required for the Aero 3D desktop

For more information visit MSDN:

Curious about Games for Windows - LIVE?

Games for Windows - LIVE extends Xbox LIVE online experiences to Windows providing connected gaming experiences that protect publisher IP, reduce costs, extend title life, improve monetization, and provide quality gaming experiences as part of a vibrant online community. Click here to find out why you should release your title with Games for Windows - LIVE

Come join us at GDC San Francisco

The Games for Windows and Games for Windows – LIVE team will be hosting a hospitality suite at GDC San Francisco, March 17th – 20th. If you are attending GDC, we invite you to come by. At the suite, we will be showcasing the Games for Windows self certification tool and other Games for Windows – LIVE features. Reserve your spot now! Please email gfwgdc@microsoft.com to setup an appointment.

Hospitality hours at the suite will be:
Wed, March 10th -1:00pm-5:00pm
Thursday, March 11th- 10:00am-5:00pm
Friday, March 12th- 10:00am-5:00pm

Ready to Start the Self Certification Process?

  • Games for Windows: Technical Requirements

  • Games for Windows: Test Cases

    Get details on how to test a title's compliance with the Games for Windows technical requirements

  • Games for Windows: Showcase Features

    Titles that utilize showcase features and demonstrate illustrate the power of gaming development on different Windows platforms will be eligible for additional marketing benefits over titles that only meet the Games for Windows standard technical requirements.

Participating Developers

Many of the top game developers are already leveraging the power of the Games for Windows brand to provide consumers with a great gaming experience.

Games for Windows Self-Certification Newsletter

Learn about Middleware compliance, Direct 3D 11 and more!