Experienced Points: Microsoft’s Game Pass Is a Kafkaesque Nightmare on PC

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jun 12, 2019

Filed under: Column 124 comments

It’s that time again. Every couple of years I put on a crash helmet and dive into the menu-based labyrinth at the heart of Microsoft’s latest games service / griefing engine. This week I tried the new “Xbox Game Pass for PC Games”, which like saying “Coca-Cola’s cola pass for Pepsi”. The name is so oxymoronic that it could only come from the minds at Microsoft.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but it doesn’t really work all that well. The Escapist article is really just the highlights. You should read the article first for context, but if you want the full list of gripes and mysteries, then below are a bunch of additional things that I cut for time / pacing:

Like I said in the article, I had to double-log in. I logged in on the webpage, and then the webpage launched the Windows store (which just showed the webpage again) where I had to log in a second time. The punchline is that when I finally got Forza Horizon 4 running, it greeted me with this:

Microsoft, you control the OS AND the store AND you published this game. How can you be so much worse than everyone else at getting systems to inter-operate?
Microsoft, you control the OS AND the store AND you published this game. How can you be so much worse than everyone else at getting systems to inter-operate?

So we’re logging in YET AGAIN? I’ve never been this logged in before.

In the article I talk about how you start with a web interface but then it shoves you into the Windows 10 Store to interact with the same webpages, but without the convenience features of your favorite browser. What I didn’t explain is how it actually switches back and forth between the two. When I wanted to “add a device” to my account, it bounced me from the Windows 10 Store back to the web, and then back to the store.

Then we have this mess:

Arg. Is there a good tool to clean up clear type so screenshots don't have this ghosting around the letters? I've never found a suitable way to deal with this that doesn't turn the text into blurry mush.
Arg. Is there a good tool to clean up clear type so screenshots don't have this ghosting around the letters? I've never found a suitable way to deal with this that doesn't turn the text into blurry mush.

Notice that my gaming clients each have their own little directories. GoG Galaxy, Steam, and Epic Games asked me where I wanted to install them, and this is what I told them to do. I put them on my hard drive because my SSD could never hold all those games. I told the Windows 10 to install to this same drive, but it didn’t have the basic decency to ask for a folder. Instead it just vomited three new folders into the root. I navigate here often, and I don’t want this space to get cluttered up.

Worse, I apparently don’t have permission to access the WindowsApps. I’m not even allowed to view it. I’ve fussed around in file permissions, and I can’t even find a way to give myself permission to look in it, even with administrator privileges. Now, you can argue that the Windows 10 store needs to make this data fortress and not let those dirty users into it because they might break things. I disagree on the basis that I own this computer and Microsoft doesn’t, but whatever. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that everything about their gaming services is always so prone to malfunction that odds are really good that I’ll need access to this at some point to un-fuck something.

More importantly, if this directory is supposed to be a super-private no-touchy zone for the user, then why is it sitting in the root directory?! If the user isn’t allowed to see inside it, then why put it right there where they’ll see it? Make a top level directory called /BrokenGarbageSoftware and stuff these three folders into that. What’s the point of making it visible like this? Are we trying to save the Windows 10 store from having to type long folder names?

And then there’s this nonsense:

Unless you're going out of your way to mock me, you shouldn't thank me for doing something you tricked me into doing.
Unless you're going out of your way to mock me, you shouldn't thank me for doing something you tricked me into doing.

I got this about 24 hours after joining their corporate dystopian data-harvesting gaming service.

I did not, in fact, “sign up” for promotional bullshit. Either they took my subscription as an excuse to spam me, or I fell for a dark pattern.

Just to make gaming on Windows as lousy as possible, the Windows 10 store has UWP apps, which do not play well with other apps. Specifically, my capture software. I use Bandicam, because that lets me set global capture hotkeys. I don’t have to memorize the screenshot / video capture key for each and every single game I own. The same keys will work no matter what game I’m playing. Moreover, Bandicam helps me out by organizing captured material into directories based on the game title, so I can find what I need under /MyDirectory/ArkhamAsylum or /MyDirectory/HotlineMiami or whatever.

This is part of my workflow. It’s a basic tool for doing my job on a daily basis, and Microsoft has designed a system to thwart it because they want us to use their shitty broken knockoffs.

You can’t normally use Fraps / Bandicam on UWP gamesThere seems to be a bit of back-and-forth on this. Bandicam comes out with a feature to make it work, then a Windows update (or whatever) breaks it. Bandicam just released another update last week, and for now it’s working again, I think? We’ll see if Microsoft breaks it again., which means you have to use the sodding Windows Game Bar. I realize that I have an atypical use case, but in this age of ubiquitous streaming it’s not that unusual.

I’m sure you’ll be flabbergasted to discover that the Game Bar sucks.

  • The interface provides no way to tell it where to store the ginormous video files you’ll be capturing. Of course it defaults to saving everything to the Windows drive, which is usually an SSD and therefore a terrible place to put this stuff.
  • It won’t let me mirror Bandicam’s hotkeys. I  don’t know why. It just says “That key combination isn’t allowed” over and over. It’s no exaggeration to say that the list of forbidden keys is larger than the list of permitted keys.
  • Obviously it doesn’t sort your material into folders for you.
  • The Game Bar is a grasping needy attention whore. It’s always popping up notifications to tell you it’s doing its job. Two hours after I took a video it popped up a system notification telling me about it. For absolutely no reason. I was concentrating writing when all of a sudden I was interrupted by “BLA-DOOP! File saved in /Long/Folder/Path/useless_garbage_non_descriptive_filename.mp4”.

Whenever I make one of these posts, there’s always THAT GUY that feels the need to defend Microsoft.

“There must be something wrong with your computer.”

“You must have done something wrong.”

“You’re just being nitpicky!”

“It worked fine for me!”

Dear THAT GUY,

Maybe. But did you ever stop to think that maybe it’s just you? Maybe you’re the outlier? Maybe your particular setup / behavior magically got through Microsoft’s net of anti-usability, while the rest of us had to fight the system to do simple things? Maybe your pain threshold for needless hassle is higher than the average person’s, enabling you to shrug at having your time wasted instead of getting angry?

Like I said in the article, it’s not like this is an aberration. This is just how Microsoft gaming software has worked for the last 13 years.  This is exactly what it felt like to use Games for Windows Live.

I can’t believe these clowns want to run a cloud gaming service. I wouldn’t trust them with the codebase for Notepad.

 

Footnotes:

[1] There seems to be a bit of back-and-forth on this. Bandicam comes out with a feature to make it work, then a Windows update (or whatever) breaks it. Bandicam just released another update last week, and for now it’s working again, I think? We’ll see if Microsoft breaks it again.



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124 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Microsoft’s Game Pass Is a Kafkaesque Nightmare on PC

  1. Sarfa says:

    It’s often been claimed that one of the reasons why Windows is more common than Linux is because Windows is simpler to use. It’s intuitive and you don’t really need to understand a Windows computer to operate it day to day (emphasis on “day to day use” here, as Windows does have a lot of arcane messiness when you step outside of everyday use). When it comes to their online store front, it’s baffling that Microsoft aren’t doing what made them successful with operating systems- prioritising user friendliness and ease of use.

    1. LynxCore says:

      This was true in the old days, up to say WinXP. Windows WAS easier to use than e.g. DOS or early Linuxes, although the 9x-Kernel Line was pretty abysmal. But hey, the rest were WORSE.

      Nowadays, it’s not usability, it’s habit. People learned to use Windows in the dark ages, and they did it by not learning the underlying concepts, but by learning where to click (See: The uproar when MS introduced the ribbon interface for MS office – A whole deluge of office workers who didn’t really know HOW to use their main software).

      But the ubiquity and habits (especially in the workforce) means people use Windows at home, and thus it gets used by default in work environments, and vice versa people use Windows at work if they can choose because they know it from home.

      Nowadays there’s almost no objective difference in usability between the OSes, just different approaches and workflows. They all have their sucky parts and their shiny parts, and your preference decides which you want to deal with.

      Sorry, pet peeve of mine.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Yeah. I eventually switched from Windows (which I grew up using till college age) to Linux mostly because I used Linux at work for a few years beforehand, and eventually realized that I, after putting in all the hard work of learning a new operating system*, I was enjoying it more than I was Windows more and more. My Linux pitch is not “Linux is perfect!” (no OS is), but simply that I enjoy using it on a day-to-day basis more than I do Windows (or Mac OS).

        * And let’s be honest: while it seems deceptively simple, and it’s easy to forget the difficulties once you’ve done it, learning a new OS is pretty comparable in difficulty overall to learning a whole new language from a different language family from your mother tongue.

      2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Sounds like my experience.

        I mostly stick to Windows because I know how to use it, and It (mostly) lets me do the things I want to. Tried switching to a Linux version once, but I bounced off hard because I had to relearn the whole interface. I also couldn’t find how to do basic tasks (like access the folder structure on my harddrive), decided it was just too much hassle for no obvious gain, and switched back to windows.

        1. Leeward says:

          I’m probably very weird, but at this point I’ve been using roughly the same UI on Debian for more than 15 years and anything else is just frustrating.

          I tried to paste a URL on my Wintendo last night and got the drag-to-scroll thingy instead. Then I had to go back, highlight the URL again, press some extra buttons (kill a process?), move my keyboard focus back to where I wanted it to go, and press some more buttons.

          It’s minor nuisances that add up to major inconvenience. I stopped being able to do anything productive in Windows a long time ago.

          1. Kyle Haight says:

            I use Linux at work because I’m more productive that way. (This is probably because I’m an embedded software engineer; if I worked in sales the application ecology my job required would be different.). At home I run Windows 7 on my desktop, largely as a gaming rig. If I want to do productive work at home, well, that’s what the Linux laptop is for.

            Windows 7, incidentally, has been rock solid for me for years. I’m about at the point where I need to replace my desktop machine, though, and the main thing blocking me from pulling the trigger is all the bad things I hear about Windows 10. Microsoft finally got one right, so of course they promptly go and screw it up. Sigh.

            1. Leeward says:

              Are you sure you’re not me? I have a Windows 7 wintendo at home, and also work on embedded software at work. Lots of embedded toolchains are more Windows than Linux, but I tend to just mount my Windows machine’s drive over CIFS and only use it to push “go” occasionally.

              If it helps, I’ve heard better things about Windows 10 than about Windows 8. (I guess they skipped 9?) Gaming on Linux is much better now than it has been, though, so I’ve mostly been using that.

              On Windows 7 as rock solid, I’m unconvinced. It still tries to bug me to upgrade to Windows 10 every once in a while, and its Bluetooth stack is downright awful.

              1. Kyle Haight says:

                In my case the embedded device toolchain I’m using is based on Ubuntu, so the pure Linux dev environment works out great. About the only thing I can’t get working natively is calendaring, but I have OWA which is good enough.

                I have also heard that Windows 10 is better than 8. What bothers me is the stuff I’ve heard about it fighting the user, and it’s privacy-invading data mining default settings. It also sounds like they took a fairly clean desktop interface and crapped it up with a bunch of mobile UI crud. I expect I can beat it into submission when it becomes necessary, but I’m not looking forward to the fight.

                On Windows 7… my installation hasn’t pestered me about Windows 10 upgrades for a long time now. It was pretty bad for a while, granted. I don’t have an opinion on its Bluetooth stack as I don’t use it, so that may just be a case where my requirements don’t fall on one of its weak spots. Hence “rock solid *for me*”. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

              2. Cubic says:

                Microsoft tells me Windows 7 is end of life on Jan 14, 2020. “But you can keep the good times rolling by moving to Windows 10.”

                https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsforbusiness/end-of-windows-7-support

              3. Michael says:

                I’ve heard better things about Windows 10 than about Windows 8. (I guess they skipped 9?)

                9 was intentionally skipped in order to honor the assumption many, many programs make that if the Windows version string starts with “9”, the OS is Windows 95 or 98.

          2. Philadelphus says:

            No joke: one of the two “killer features” that got me to switch to Linux is that secondary clipboard that automatically copies whatever text you highlight then pastes it when you middle click. I rely on that so much it’s not even funny; I now actively resent having to use any OS that doesn’t have that (incredibly simple and useful!) functionality.

      3. Nessus says:

        No, that’s just something Linux users tell themselves in order to avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room. That the single biggest UI barrier in Linux is not only hugely disproportionate relative to the difference between Mac and Win, and is something they deeply love and don’t want changed: Linux’s dependency on the terminal.

        Learning a new GUI or file structure is no big deal. Everyone’s done that before. Either they’ve started a new job that mandates using a different software than they’re used to for a given task, or they have had a software provider go all Wile E. Coyote with UI changes during a major update. And a non-trivial amount of people have had the experience of having to switch between OSs when going from work to home, or from one job to another, or even just at home. People gripe about it the same way they might gripe about having to do the dishes: it’s not hard, just inconvenient and unfun. The idea that it’s some Sisyphean barrier for “ordinary” users is BS.

        Going from GUI to command line is a different order of beast. Learning a new UI is like starting a new job and having to learn the new workplace layout and company protocol. Going from a GUI to command line interface is like starting a new job in a place that mandates signage, computers, and conversations be in a language you don’t speak or read. In Windows or Mac you can go your entire life without even knowing the command line even exists. Linux, by contrast, has a relatively paper-thin GUI that regularly requires command line use for simple tasks. Mac and Win are both philosophically based in the idea of making their systems usable to everyone, while Linux appears to be either a case of Devs resenting GUIs so much that they only implement them when forced, or a sort of passive-aggressively patronizing idea that they’re “helping” people by forcing them to learn CL.

        The idea that “there’s almost no objective difference in usability between the OSes” is something Linux advocates like to tell themselves, but it’s very much not true. At best it’s something that could subjectively seem true to someone with a lot of systems mastery who isn’t self aware of it.

        That’s actually a known psychological problem in all skill fields: people with high skill and experience tend to lose perspective of what’s hard or easy at lower skill levels, because below a certain threshold, it’s all equally easy to them.

        1. avenger337 says:

          Linux, by contrast, has a relatively paper-thin GUI that regularly requires command line use for simple tasks. Mac and Win are both philosophically based in the idea of making their systems usable to everyone, while Linux appears to be either a case of Devs resenting GUIs so much that they only implement them when forced, or a sort of passive-aggressively patronizing idea that they’re “helping” people by forcing them to learn CL.

          This… hasn’t been true for at least a decade. Modern versions of Ubuntu never require you to touch a command line. for “normal” tasks (email, web browsing, movies, photography, etc.) Yes, you probably need to use the command line if you’re trying to do something more complicated but… have you heard of the Windows Registry? It’s not like that’s any more user-friendly than the command-line is, and you’ll probably have to go mucking around in there if you want to do something complicated on Windows.

          I really wish that people would stop trotting out the command-line thing as “the reason people don’t use Linux” because it just isn’t true. You want to know the reason why people don’t use Linux? It’s some combination of the following:

          1) It doesn’t come pre-installed on new computers that people buy
          2) Word and Excel don’t run on it (and OpenOffice, Google Docs, etc are shit replacements, and aren’t compatible with Word and Excel to boot (yes, I know they’re “compatible” but they’re not really))
          3) When something breaks, the computer-savvy person in the family won’t know how to fix it
          4) Learning new things is hard and people are used to Windows
          5) Lots of stuff still doesn’t run easily or at all on Linux (games, photo software, etc)

        2. Moridin says:

          Sounds like you haven’t actually tried using Linux for a very long time if ever. Using command line is certainly faster and simpler(once you learn it), but there are very, very few things an ordinary would need to use command line for. I used Ubuntu and Mint for years before learning to properly use BASH, and I only had to use command line a few times(and then only to paste a couple lines I found by googling).

          Canonical and others have spend a lot of effort to make Linux more userfriendly, and to say that Linux developers(in general) resent GUIs is just plain bullshit.

        3. Leeward says:

          I’ll grant it’s possible that you’re right. I currently have…24 instances of xterm open and 29 of bash (counting the one I opened to count). I personally spend very little time mucking about with GUIs for things like shuffling files around. As a developer, command line tools give me immense flexibility that I really couldn’t get on Windows. Just counting the number of xterms I had open by running a simple (granted, with years of experience) command took a lot less time than actually counting with my mouse would have.

          That said, my spouse is not particularly computer savvy (smart and highly educated, but focused on something other than computers) and could drive Ubuntu around in 2010 without really noticing that it was running Linux. My sister (also not particularly computer-y) ran Debian for everything she needed on several laptops over many years. It did help that I was on hand to fix anything that went wrong and keep it patched, but I feel like the Windows ecosystem depends on having computer nerds around too.

          I would argue that Debian-based (maybe red hat based too? I don’t use them) distros are actually easier to deal with than Windows or MacOS when it comes to finding and installing software. There’s no trawling web sites for probably-sketchy maybe-malware to download to install some piece of software. In a strange reversal, drivers for pretty much everything are just included with the kernel, and if I want some photo editing software I can install the gimp without opening a browser or fiddling with the command line.

          Anyway, maybe you’re right and it’s actually impossible to use a modern Linux distro without falling back to the command line. I don’t think it is, though.

        4. Taxi says:

          Bull. Linux is as much dependent on terminal as Windows is on cmd or registry editor. Sometimes it’s useful when you need to do something really obscure. In normal operation you never need to touch it. When I was using Linux on a daily basis I maybe opened it once in a few weeks to set up something wacky.

          And if you do, well you just look up what to type in, big deal.

          Also what kind of nonsense is that paper-thin UI argument? There are probably hundreds of different GUIs for Linux (Linux itself is just a kernel) from the indeed paper thin up to those way more user friendly and robust than Win combined with OS X could ever hope to be. And if you’re afraid of choice, just install Ubuntu with their default settings.

    2. Veylon says:

      I don’t know who’s claiming this, but the real reason Windows is more common is than Linux is because is comes pre-installed on virtually every PC sold at a retailer. The consumer doesn’t choose Windows, it’s chosen for them. Some particular flavor of Linux could be the most amazing OS in the entire world and it wouldn’t matter because most people aren’t going to bother spending the extra time and effort to put it on their machine when they already have Windows. What made Microsoft successful was arranging the business deals to tilt the field in their favor, not winning over customers with a superior product. When have you ever seen an advertisement telling you to buy Windows or comparing it’s features to other OS’s?

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I’ll argue that there’s not one reason Windows is more common, there are many. Another one is gaming: Linux gaming is only now starting to take off, but most PC games still only work with Windows, so you won’t find many gamers that will make the switch.

        1. Lee says:

          You’re putting the cart before the horse with the gaming example. Linux gaming is behind because Windows is more common, not the other way around.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            It’s a self-reinforcing process.
            There are less games on Linux because Linux is less common.
            One of the reasons Linux is less common is because fewer large, commercial programs are made for it, like games.

            1. Dreadjaws says:

              I was about to say this. It’s a vicious circle.

              1. Erik says:

                To be exact, it’s a Network Effect.

          2. Caledfwlch says:

            Also, Linux has a clusterfuck of different versions, without much of a common core, so making sure a game is usable on all of them is a nightmare. That’s the same deal as “PC vs consoles”, only reinforced even more.

            1. default_ex says:

              Actually this point is not as much of a problem with Linux as it is with Windows. Linux has a concept of dependencies. A dependency is software of configuration that is required to run a program. Package managers scan those upon installation to determine which ones you have and don’t have. Modern package managers prompt you to ask if it’s OK to install those for you or let you say no if for some reason you want to install them yourself. There are also optional dependencies which provide “nice to have but not required” features. An example of optional would be vulkan drivers to enable DXVK in wine.

      2. Daimbert says:

        When have you ever seen an advertisement telling you to buy Windows or comparing it’s features to other OS’s?

        Ads about Windows 7 and 8 were pretty common when they were coming out, although that likely was for upgrades than as a separate download.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          Yeah, Windows advertisements never focus on switching to Windows, but to the latest version of Windows.
          It’s assumed you already have Windows.

      3. Boobah says:

        I don’t know who’s claiming this, but the real reason Windows is more common is than Linux is because is comes pre-installed on virtually every PC sold at a retailer. The consumer doesn’t choose Windows, it’s chosen for them.

        Worth pointing out: when a major PC manufacturer (Dell, IIRC) tried to sell machines without Windows pre-installed Microsoft claimed that everyone used Windows, so non-Windows PCs were clearly something only a software pirate would buy. They told the manufacturer they could either include Windows on every PC sold (or at least buy a license for every PC sold), or they wouldn’t get to put Windows on any PC.

        The market being what it was, the manufacturer caved.

  2. Grey Rook says:

    I read the article, and it’s kind of impressive just how bad Microsoft is at this. I really appreciate that you’re willing to put up with it for our sakes, Shamus.

    1. Geebs says:

      I just now tried installing Microsoft’s XBox app on my PC. The installer has, over the course of the last 20 minutes:

      a) Displayed a jaunty picture of pirates
      b) Declared that it is “making things awesome”
      c) Hung/crashed with an empty progress bar.

      I’m now scared to quit out of the installer in case things suddenly becomes less awesome than Microsoft have, at the time of writing, made them.

      I hope this supplementary information has been both informative and entertaining.

      1. Shamus says:

        Running beta gaming software from Microsoft. That’s some Chuck Yeager shit right there.

        Good luck!

  3. Content Consumer says:

    You know, I really don’t like talking to THAT GUY much, but boy do I ever wish I was him. Must be nice.

  4. Crokus Younghand says:

    I have a theory. All the C/C++ devs at Microsoft are old greybeard wizards while all Web/.NET/<insert fad here> devs are kids straight out of high school.

    Not very plausible (or very nice), I know, but it does explain this recurring pattern of behaviour.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      I suspect Microsoft is just being badly managed.
      They’ve achieved market dominance, late-stage-capitalism style, so they don’t need to be good to keep up.
      They can fail constantly and not go under.

      1. Thomas Adamson says:

        Depends on what division of Microsoft you’re talking about. Their Azure platform is the the only real competitor to the dominant Amazon Web Services in cloud computing. And most of the recent changes to Win10 such as windows-subsystem-linux and containerization/virtualization seem to be about making windows the development workstation platform of choice for that.

    2. Kyle Haight says:

      In my experience large technology companies have clusters of competence and clusters of incompetence. They will be very good at some things and stunningly bad at others with no apparent rhyme or reason.

      One reason I’ve seen for this is organizational inertia. A group filled with good people tends to attract and hire other good people. A group with less good people will sometimes hire other bad people and eventually collapse into a streaming heap of Dunning-Kreuger. When this happens you can’t fix it by bringing in a few good people from outside. The poor quality standards, workflows, tools and codebase are baked into the group culture.

      The only way to ‘fix’ an org like that is to burn it to the ground. Fire everyone and rebuild from scratch with entirely new people and often a new tech base. But there are serious barriers to doing that, and in the short term it’s usually easier for people to just try to work around the dysfunction as best they can.

      In other words, I suspect there are a lot of people at Microsoft who look at this thing and facepalm as much as we do, but nobody who understands the problem and cares about it is in a position to fix the underlying cause.

      1. Thomas Adamson says:

        I suspect most of the really competent people at Microsoft are currently with their cloud services division and the “making windows the dominant workstation OS for cloud development” division.

        1. Kyle Haight says:

          Your best people tend to be where the money comes from, for a variety of reasons. Good people tend to build good products, which lead to market success. Good people also tend to be able to pick what they work on, and they prefer good projects over dumpster fires. Groups in areas seen as non-essential are the ones that tend to decay, partly because the best people move out of what they see as a ‘backwater’ and partly because management doesn’t care as much about the gradual decline in quality because it isn’t something on which they’re focused.

          I suspect PC gaming was in that category for Microsoft for some time. Now they have a problem, because even if they sincerely want to focus on that area again the group responsible for doing so was allowed to collapse into crap and doing the burn-and-rebuild cycle is too painful. (For one thing, doing so would require them to admit publicly that they viewed PC gaming as a declining backwater for years.) So instead we get to enjoy watching them stagger around stepping on rakes.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    So we’re logging in YET AGAIN? I’ve never been this logged in before.

    But did you type furiously on your third keyboard while muttering intensely “I’m in” to no one in particular?

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      Ah, that mut be it. He’s not one three three seven enough for the whole process, so he needs to re-log in all the time.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      Maybe he didn’t use a custom interface with rapidly-changing nonsense in fifteen different windows? That always seems to work for me.

    3. Dreadjaws says:

      Pfff. I bet the silly man was only using one keyboard at a time. And his computer didn’t even have knobs and blinking red/green LEDs.

      1. evileeyore says:

        Or, if using a single keyboard, only one person was typing. I mean how can you get anything done with only one person typing on one keyboard?

  6. THAT GUY says:

    I haven’t had the immense luck to try that Game Pass thing myself, but knowing the author’s track record, odds are pretty good it must be a trivial ten-minute setup.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Well played, sir.

  7. Crokus Younghand says:

    Also, Shamus, if you want to open/delete those directories, shut down your PC completely (not the fast boot thing), then boot from a Linux live USB and mount the hard drive.

    Apologies if you already knew about this.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I think Shamus’ complaint isn’t that this is impossible, but it’s just terribly designed for the end user, particularly when Windows is supposed to be all about being user-friendly.

      1. Guest says:

        Yeah, a really common thing I do for space when I’m running low on my faster drives is to cut games to another drive.

        I’m usually doing this because I’m starting a download for another game that’s going to take hours. I don’t want anything making that time longer.

        I do not want to set up a separate operating system, or unhook the hard drive from my machine and put it in another one to perform basic file functions. This doesn’t even have the usual excuse for locking the user out-I cannot break the computer irreparably doing this, at worst, I break a game install that I have a license and installer for.

        Also, it’s nice to have access to the local folders for save games and modding. Just terrible “closed system” design. Hard pass. M$ already cheated themselves with their stupid half-assed games system they were already using. Try to download the beta for Sea of Thieves, get a whole runaround that involves the thing not actually download, and also taking forever to get to the point where it fails. I think the solution involved registry editing, and while I’m competent with that, I decided it wasn’t worthwhile to do it so I could play a day’s worth of the game, I looked it up on YT and saw how poorly received it was. Maybe don’t make a downloader that literally doesn’t download. Maybe don’t make a storefront that is so annoying it literally makes the user reconsider whether they really want the items enough to jump those hoops.

      2. Thomas Adamson says:

        “particularly when Windows is supposed to be all about being user-friendly.”

        That’s the last thing Windows is supposed to be about.

    2. Decius says:

      That seems like a perfectly reasonable way to interface with my filesystem.

      1. Crokus Younghand says:

        Talk not about NTFS and reason in the same breath!

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    “Coka-Cola”? Someone’s mixing up drinks the wrong way.

    Anyway, this sort of thing is why it boils my blood whenever developers or publishers make an exclusivity deal with the Epic Store and write messages about how they only want what’s best for users. These deals often mean games are not available on Steam, not that they’re only on Epic. That means you have a choice between a bad store (Epic) and a clusterfuck of insanity wearing a store’s skin (Windows Store). Like… just admit you’re after some quick cash. We all know it anyway.

    I use Bandicam, because that lets me set global capture hotkeys. I don’t have to memorize the screenshot / video capture key for each and every single game I own. The same keys will work no matter what game I’m playing. Moreover, Bandicam helps me out by organizing captured material into directories based on the game title

    The GeForce capture software can do all that too. Have you tried it? Maybe you’ll have more luck with it.

  9. Mephane says:

    Arg. Is there a good tool to clean up clear type so screenshots don’t have this ghosting around the letters? I’ve never found a suitable way to deal with this that doesn’t turn the text into blurry mush.

    Why not save it as a PNG? JPG is designed for stuff like photographs, not screenshots with small text.

    1. James says:

      Agreed – PNG would be a huge improvement over JPG for simple images with mostly solid-color spaces, like the one in this article.

      The problem with JPG for ClearType text is that CT uses red and blue pixels around the characters to “smooth” them on your display, but JPG is very clunky at encoding jagged edges between pixels of significantly different colors (e.g. black and red, and black and blue).

      1. If ClearType text is captured then the capture software is wrong, such subsampling occurs at a later stage (after PrtSrc for example) so you’d normally not be able to capture ClearType.

        1. Shamus says:

          I use PrtScrn for all my desktop shots. I just smack the button and then paste into my image editor. It always captures ClearType. I just tried Win+PrtScrn to have windows save the image manually and got the same deal.

          It’s always been this way for me.

          1. How weird. I’ve never noticed that.
            Now I’m uncertain how long it’s been like that (was it always like that or did it get changed when Direct2D was added in Vista?)

            I notice mine has less fringing (probably due to my cleartype calibration).

            BTW! Using a virtual super resolution then scaling that down improve the text much more.
            Also note that certain fonts do or do not support ClearType, if hey do not support cleartype or are OTF/Postscript then greyscale subpixels are used only which looks much nicer IMO (less to no color fringing).

            Huh. Really interesting though, I always thought PrtScr grabbed the framebuffer before the cleartype “pass”. I wonder if some software can do that.
            You may also be able to turn off ClearType for some apps under compatibility settings.

            1. Shamus says:

              Funny story about turning off clear type:

              I did, and I’m still getting that fringing. See, when you turn it off, it throws you through a series of tests: “Which of these six seemingly identical boxes of lorem epsom text looks better?” It gives you several of these questions in a row, and then promises it’s “calibrated” ClearType for your display. The tick box says it’s off, but the screen shot shows that SOMETHING is messing with sub-pixel font rendering.

              I wish I could figure out how to get 100% greyscale fonts. I’m sure it’s possible, but the option must be well-hidden.

              1. Benden says:

                This looks like text anti-aliasing where the image has lower resolution than the intended display. In the image in the article I see artifacts, but this one looks clean—just very low res/enlarged. (Maybe I can’t see artifacts on my retina screen?but I can see them above, so…I don’t know.). Anyway, I am basing the following question entirely on how this image looks, because I know nothing about Windows: Is there any chance it takes screenshots at a resolution rather a lot less than the resolution of the display?

              2. Zak McKracken says:

                Could it be that Cleartype and subpixel hinting are not the same thing? I.e.: Your machine might still be doing the subpixel thing, independent of cleartype.

                If I need decent screenshots of webpages or PDFs, I do scale them up as far as my monitor allows. Tweaking text areas in Gimp to be greyscale helps too, of course, but that’s work…

                My favourite screenshot tool is Shutter, but that’s only on Linux … there should be something better than the builtin Windows thing in this list, though:
                https://alternativeto.net/software/shutter/?platform=windows

              3. kdansky says:

                Try the snipping tool. Comes included with Windows since ten+ years.

            2. James says:

              Or he could just, you know… avoid all that extra work and save them as PNG.

          2. Groo the Wanderer says:

            Ever Considered Greenshot?
            https://getgreenshot.org/

            It doesn’t seem to have these issues and we use it all the time for internal documentation.

    2. Josef says:

      Key combo Windows + Print Screen saves a PNG screenshot into Pictures/Screenshots directory. No idea how it works with games but desktop works well enough.

    3. Protip: Capture shots as PNG (or uncompressed BMP), then use irfanview to make the JPEG but make sure you disable chroma subsampling, doing this makes JPEG compress 1 pixel as 1 pixel instead of chroma subsampliung (which causes color fringes around stuff), the color accuracy is improved too, the compression loss is very small.

      1. Benden says:

        +1, though staying in PNG for text is my first thought.

      2. OldOak says:

        ++1
        JPG format is a bitch.

        Simple exercise:
        a) open MSPaint (or whatever Windows 10 gives) and type some text
        b) save the same image both as a PNG and as a JPG (order might matter — saving as JPG first could affect what’s on screen too)
        c) take a look with a picture viewer at the two files.

        The JPG file will have a larger bleeding of the ClearType anti aliasing than the PNG. There are optimizations to be done for saving as JPG but they are largely dependent on the program you’re saving with (MSPaint has zero, and the final JPG is larger than the PNG file! – at least for my test case)

    4. Zak McKracken says:

      I didn’t even notice the “ghosting” before I noticed the jpg artifacts. And jpeg of course doesn’t help to reduce oscillations in colour space… But that said: I think there are probably screenshot tools which can ignore such things.

  10. Xeorm says:

    So glad you’re here to go through that mess of a store and not me.

  11. Asdasd says:

    This is a really interesting response, because the feedback I’ve seen on many other sites has been that it’s the most incredible deal the world has ever seen. I think the value proposition is pretty good – if you treat it as a game rental service, if you actually make use of it, and you cancel when you’re done instead of letting it roll forever – but I’m loathe to tangle with the windows store. Shamus, your experience reads like a horror story, and I’m grateful you went through it so I don’t have to!

    I’m also kind of concerned about how much revenue developers can really expect to see if us customers are getting such an apparent bargain, and how sustainable the model/fair the split is for them.

    1. Thomas says:

      I thought is heard good things and then realised they were all talking about the Xbox games pass for the Xbox. That’s a truly hideous piece of branding.

    2. Mistwraithe says:

      In terms of sustainability, more and more games are heading towards making substantial amounts of their revenue from DLC and in-game purchases instead of the base purchase price. I suspect that if rental models catch on then this trend will accelerate further (particularly with the companies putting their games on the rental services). For example, you get Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Game Pass, but it is the bulk standard cheap version, it’s still fun but anyone who really likes that genre will likely spend money adding to it.

  12. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Typo detected : crash helment

    Honestly your glorious battle about the various Windows stores are so entertaining to me that part of me is afraid of them eventually getting their shit together. Not much risk of that though.

    The part where there is a folder that even admins can’t touch would make me freak out though, I can’t stand the idea of not being the master of my own computer. It’s too bad it’s not part of the Escapist article, I think it’s a huge deal.

  13. Karma The Alligator says:

    Thanks for the article, Shamus, it did not disappoint.

    What did disappoint is Microsoft’s performance and inability to get their service working (guess their stuff is not the “it just works” kind) after all those years.

  14. John says:

    This is why I love GOG. Log in once using the web browser of your choice. Buy the game. Download the installer. Install the game wherever you want. Backup the installer. Never deal with GOG again if you don’t want to.

  15. Chad Miller says:

    Re: the $1 thing, something like that happened on my Xbox too. On one hand I didn’t care that much about the service, but on the other hand, existing XBL/Game Pass subscriptions get converted to the “Ultimate” version if you take the $1 deal so after trying again a day or two later I have the service until November for my $1. It’s demanding I update my OS before I try it so I guess I’ll be waiting until I have a full day to spare before I risk that nonsense.

  16. PPX14 says:

    How embarrassing considering how easy it is to use Origin Access. Joining, using, and leaving were all very simple as far as I remember.

  17. Steve C says:

    Your pristine installation of Windows without any cruft! It’s gone!

  18. The Big Brzezinski says:

    Only Windows store products I have are Minecraft (which I bought in beta from Swedes) and Roblox (which is free and the nephews love). I once tried to change the icon of the Bedrock version so it wouldn’t be confused with the Java version. Never again.

    And I’d still be willing to put up with ALL THAT bull crap if Microsoft would port the N64 Rare games so I could play them on PC.

  19. Guest says:

    My passwords are all complex and stored in a password manager. If you make me log in more than once, and don’t save that login, I bounce. I’m not going to enter the password for my password manager, so I can read the pass and enter it 3 damn times, I’m just going to send an abusive letter to support.

    I’m so frustrated by things that do this. Same for apps that ask you to link accounts, that you’re logged into the app for on the device. This phone has a fingerprint scanner and if I get the password wrong 30 times it wipes. I do not want to type a massive password with punctuation in it on a phone keyboard.

  20. The Coach says:

    Shamus,

    In the Escapist article the screenshot of the Forza 4 store page has some very strange pricing displayed. It says:

    – $79.99 with XBox Game Pass PC Games
    or
    $99.99 $59.99 + 40% off 8 days left

    So was the game still 80 bucks with the Game Pass? And the 40% sale price only applied to the regular retail making it cheaper than if you didn’t have Game Pass? I’m confused.

    – Coach

    1. Shamus says:

      I was confused too. I THINK that FH4 has different pages for Xbox / PC, even though the entire point of the storefront is to unify the two systems. Each page gave different prices based on which game pass you have, and that’s assuming any of it was working right to begin with.

  21. chad says:

    > Is there a good tool to clean up clear type so screenshots don’t have this ghosting around the letters?

    Unfortunately, that tool is a Mac. It’s unfortunate because you have a strong investment (both experience and hardware) in Windows, and also because the subset of Macs that can be currently called ‘good’ is a little slim.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight here; Windows font issues are even older than MS failures in gaming. When I type “Windows fon” into an incognito Google search, I get the suggestions “…font blurry”, “…font fuzzy” and “…font broken” before I hit the ‘t’. The graphic designers I work with all have detailed, arcane processes that are required to prevent “font stupid” before going to print — which they can mostly ignore when the source is a Mac.

    My understanding is that there’s a trade-off in how type is presented on modern bitmapped displays, and that Windows and Mac made different choices. There are presumably upsides to the Windows approach, while the downsides are this common blurry/fuzzy/eyestrain effect.

    1. Simplex says:

      “Unfortunately, that tool is a Mac”

      That tool is a Mac but not if you connect a stanard PC monitor to Mac. At that point you have literally ZERO font scaling options, you can only change the resolution of the panel. At least that’s what happens on a Macbook Pro.

  22. Simplex says:

    “my machine is brand new. I’ve got a liquid-cooled Intel Core i9-9900K processor with 32 GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card which is also liquid cooled”

    When did that happen?

    1. Shamus says:

      About a month ago. It got mentioned on the Diecast, but I don’t think I’ve written about it yet.

      https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=46895

      1. sammi says:

        I am a bit surprised that you have such an overpriced monstrosity when you’re not exactly swimming in cash?

        An AMD 2600X and a 2060 TI without watercooling would have done the same job for $1500 less.

        1. Shamus says:

          It was a donation from a fan.

          1. Simplex says:

            That’s a relief. If you bought it yourself it would mean you were replaced by a reptilian.
            I can sincerely congratulate on putting out content of such good quality that deserves this kind of donation from a fan. I mean it 100% unironically. You deserve it. This machine is absolute beast, I think it would be cool if you wrote about your impression with such a machine after years, if not decades, of having to play on mid-range (or worse) hardware.

  23. shoeboxjeddy says:

    How I’ve gotten the Windows/Xbox/Live/etc websites to work:
    1) Use the Edge browser. It seems to deliberately screw up on Firefox, even with Adblock turned off. Just suck it up and use it for this one task.
    2) When you show up on the page, log in first. You will almost certainly be logging in again later, but go ahead and start with this.
    3) Whenever something seems broken (it offers to sell you LIVE when you already have it, the price is wrong, etc), scroll up and log in again. Sometimes it will show that you’re logged in and it is lying. When you click on your account, it will prompt you to log in again. If it seems like the offer is wrong, log in.
    4) Wait to click anything, sometimes it’ll change from “Buy for $59.99” to “Install (Free)” because the first second the page loaded it didn’t quite remember you were logged in.

    It seems like their log in system is some kind of bizarre overlay and not like a state you get into and stay in (like… every other webpage I’ve ever been to). I do feel this is the core issue that all this other stuff is coming from. It’s a really bad site, but I’ve always been able to accomplish the task I’m after with some patient persistance.

    1. Mistwraithe says:

      Good advice. The Microsoft Xbox store has a pseudo logged in state where it shows your name in the top right and looks like you are logged in, but you aren’t really and all the pages you load pretend you aren’t logged in. This seems completely pointless – I could understand if the pages loaded as though you WERE logged in and then it asked for authentication if you got to something sensitive like buying a game or cancelling your subscription, but as it stands it is fairly demented. The solution is to force a login sooner rather than later, then refresh your tabs.

    2. Steve C says:

      My workaround is to not put up with jank and spend my money elsewhere. It is effective strategy across almost everything.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        So I bought Cuphead for Xbox and I got a free copy for PC. Your solution is “don’t accept your free copy because BIG MAD.” That’s silly and only hurting yourself.

        1. Lars says:

          Isn’t hurting yourself and Cuphead the same thing? So messing with MS Store does no additional damage.

  24. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I can’t even find a way to give myself permission to look in it, even with administrator privileges

    That’s because Win 10 “admin” users aren’t actually true admins. They are just normal accounts with some elevated privileges (but not full admin privileges). You have to enable the hidden admin account and log in to that to get full control over certain things. I’m sure Microsoft would tell you that they are just protecting users from themselves.

  25. FluffySquirrel says:

    Well, that sounds like a pretty clear GDPR breach if they never explicitly asked you about signing up to marketing emails.. but then, I wonder if they track what country you’re from and make it obfuscated only in non-EU countries

    Anyone from the EU experienced it?

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Can’t say, but I can confirm the “mails” thing is determined by your geo location. In Europe, I get a nice, un-ticked checkmark box for “sign up”. Through a VPN, I don’t see the same box.

    2. evileeyore says:

      “Well, that sounds like a pretty clear GDPR breach if they never explicitly asked you about signing up to marketing emails..”

      In the US they don’t have to. If you enter into a new business arrangement with a company, even one you have explicitly told to Never Contact You For Marketing, you are agreeing to to a new relationship. A new exciting relationship in which you haven’t yet told them to stick their marketing where the sun doesn’t shine.

  26. Baguette says:

    So, your first reaction to tech advice in the comments is to get mad at a strawman character and resort to accusations of fanboyism?
    Wew lad, guess your tech skills are a sensitive topic.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve written this sort of article before. That’s not a strawman. That’s literally what happens if you don’t head it off.

      1. Baguette says:

        Thanks to the wonders of the search box, I can see that you’ve written about your tech issues before, and I can see the comments you’ve got in reply.
        If what sticked out to you is the presence of “that guy” who defends windows, you need to check your eyesight: the bulk of the comments are openly pro-Linux or pro-Mac, and a rought count of the self-described Linux users shows just how much they’re overrepresented compared to the general population.
        You’re so used to your Linux bubble than when some comment from outside the bubble filters in you see it as a severe annoyance, even when it’s something completely inoffensive and normal such as well meaning but incorrect advice given by someone who missed a few key words: see https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=26561 , which is you getting mad at painfully average comments (they’re just as useless as most tech support calls, but at least they don’t waste any of your time) but you also offer your workaround, and that was a nice thing to do.
        If you don’t think bubbles can be so strong or that invisible, check out https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/, the beginning of the third section in particular.

        1. Shamus says:

          You’re making all kinds of assumptions here. To correct a few of them

          1) I’m a Windows user, not Linux, so I don’t know where this “Linux bubble” nonsense is coming from. I’ve run Linux in the past for self-educational / exploration purposes, but I do my work / gaming on Windows.
          2) The arguing with THAT GUY wasn’t because it was the most common, but because it was predictable and it’s good to head off predictable arguments in the text, rather than addressing the same point in the comments again and again. Also, I’ve written over 300 articles for the Escapist, and a lot of THAT GUY comments come from there.
          3) Your accusations of me being in a “bubble” ring very hollow when you don’t seem to understand what OS I’m using, where I post my material, or what I’m trying to accomplish with these articles.
          4) This is your introduction to this site and you’ve jumped in with a combative attitude and a handful of wrong assumptions. If you’re a fan of SSC then you should know this is not the way to construct an effective argument.

          1. baguette says:

            The bubble clearly refers to the comment section, which is how you get feedback from your readers, not the Os you use, which does not provide you with feedback from your readers and in any case is mentioned in your own articles (such as the one I linked above).
            If you think this attitude is combative, well, then enjoy the yes-men you’re cultivating and the petty open letters to “THAT GUY” to antagonize the already smaller than usual portion of normal users.
            You think this is the first time I read one of your articles? I’ve lurked for years, now I’m commenting because you pissed me off.

            1. Narkis says:

              There are times when I wonder why the Rationalist community gets such a bad rap in most parts of the internet. And then I see people like you, who have learned completely the wrong lessons, wielding what the know like a bludgeon to win internet arguments with and conveniently forgetting the inconvenient parts, like the Principle of Charity, Humility, and Self-reflection. Scott Alexander would be so disappointed to see how you use what he’s written.

    2. Vinsomer says:

      You realise this comment proves Shamus right? That you are that guy?

      Maybe Shamus just happens to have woeful tech skills, despite writing about tech and games for years and years, and even developing his own games/software. It’s possible, even though it’s wildly unlikely to anyone paying attention to anything.

      But, if that’s the case, then imagine how terrible a user experience this is for someone with zero tech skills. If someone who is at least nominally computer literate finds this a frustrating mess to the point where it seems like a practical joke, then imagine the sheer wall of nonsense this system is for that parent who never learned much about computers, or that guy whose knowledge of computers begins and ends with office software, or that person who has never used a PC for gaming before and this is their first time. There is no excuse for a system as obtuse from this from the biggest software company in the world. It’s verging on an actual deliberate display of disrespect to present consumers with something this downright broken, when competitors nailed these problems first time over a decade ago.

      Also, can we just get rid of strawman accusations? More and more I see it being used as a way to ignore legitimate points and move the goalposts. If something is a strawman, you don’t have to say it to point that out. And if something isn’t, then the comment looks, well, like yours, where people throw it out without actually justifying or qualifying it.

      1. Baguette says:

        >make a questionable point in an aggressive fashion
        >receive criticism regarding the accuracy and presentation of said point
        >”actually, being criticized proves my point”

        This circular logic excuse is as old as time and it’s still as pathetic as it was on its first use.
        Stop it, get some help.

        There’s plenty of good sites discussing and documenting tech issues with any version of Windows, often offering in depth explainations plus links to potential fixes and workarounds, this blog isn’t one of them and ironically manages to be less useful than the official microsoft forums and their spambots.

        >Also, can we just get rid of strawman accusations?

        So you can OWN imaginary opponents with FACTS and LOGIC, and then use those convenient props to slander anyone you don’t like?
        No.

        1. Shamus says:

          “There’s plenty of good sites discussing and documenting tech issues with any version of Windows, often offering in depth explainations plus links to potential fixes and workarounds, this blog isn’t one of them and ironically manages to be less useful than the official microsoft forums and their spambots.”

          I’m a critic, not tech support. Microsoft’s gaming software has been shit for the last 13+ years, and I’m going to keep pointing it out until it stops being shit. I don’t need to find workarounds or solve their ridiculous puzzle box of broken features in order to criticize them. It’s literally my job to write articles like this one.

        2. Vinsomer says:

          >make a questionable point in an aggressive fashion
          >receive criticism regarding the accuracy and presentation of said point
          >”actually, being criticized proves my point”

          That’s a very selective reading of this comment chain.

          Shamus made the point that there is always someone who blames the user for their frustrations dealing with windows, even when the software is so obviously broken. And he was anything but ‘aggressive’.

          Lo and behold, here comes someone who ignorantly claims that Shamus’ problems are due to his own fault as a user, and not the bad software, even though Shamus lists specific points where the software fails at even the most basic level. It can’t keep track of the badly-branded services it’s trying to sell. It can’t manage to remember that you’ve logged in. It can’t even install a game or remember which games are on its own service. Tell me, which one of those was Shamus’ fault as a user?

          The thing about strawmen is it’s about avoiding the actual argument being made, and instead focusing on an adjacent argument not being made that is easier to defeat. Which is what you’ve been doing. Not focusing on anything Shamus or I said specifically, instead trying to play logic games and ‘Who’s fallacy is it anyway?’ or present me as some Ben Shapiro-style mass debater.

          And, now you even move the goalposts further to avoid what was actually said by blasting Shamus for not being tech support when that was never the aim of either this specific article, or Shamus’ site in general. Never mind that the fact that you need to browse through solutions on the internet to problems that don’t exist on other platforms is itself an indictment on how bad a job Microsoft have done here.

          The irony being that this is the most helpful blog on the topic, as it tells me, the reader, to avoid using this service in the first place.

          If you are going to say that Shamus’ bad experience is down to his own fault/lack of knowledge, then point out where. Tell us which of his problems specifically are due to him and not the software, show us where he went wrong as a user (beyond deciding to use the software at all), show us where he turned left when he should have made a right. Otherwise, it’s hard to see you as anything but a troll taking an opportunity to bash someone.

    3. Lanthanide says:

      Occasionally Shamus writes things that makes me want to shake him and say “you’re doing it wrong! that’s not how it works!”, in particular his Diablo 3 review where he complained the whole time about how easy it was but didn’t avail himself of the difficulty slider that you are supposed to use to make the game harder if you’re finding it too easy. Which anyone with any previous game playing experience should do, since the default difficulty in D3 manages to be so low that the average ‘causal gamer’ would find it insulting.

      Last time he wrote about the Windows game store some of the stuff he was saying just sounded so asinine I assumed he’d overlooked something or skipped a step somewhere somehow. I so I went and tried it out myself – and hit every single thing he complained about in exactly the way he complained about.

      So when it comes to any sort of criticism of the Windows / Microsoft store, I now just believe Shamus without question.

  27. Thomas says:

    I can’t understand why Gamepass isn’t a simple unified system between PC and console. No-one is going to lose sales by giving everyone access to the Xbox _and_ PC version at the same time.

    Actually, it’s probably nightmare in terms of licensing, but that’s not my problem as a consumer.

  28. Jason says:

    I haven’t tried XBox Game Pass, and I don’t think I’ve even used the Windows 10 store, but I do remember the hassles with Games For Windows Live.
    GTA IV was a nightmare for me. I was a crapshoot whether it would log in automatically, make me log in again, or make me log in, but then fail and force me to play offline. I had cloud saves enabled (I don’t remember if that was an option, or required), but if it was playing offline, it wouldn’t load the cloud saves. And when it got back online, sometimes it would wipe my cloud saves with the local ones, or vice-versa. I started that game so many times, and the entire intro is unskippable.

  29. Lame Duck says:

    The image that comes to mind is a fly repeatedly slamming itself into a window; persistently trying to achieve something but completely incapable of recognising its mistake and altering its approach.

  30. Chad Miller says:

    So, I was poking around on my Xbox today and had something happen to me that reminded me of one of your earlier blog posts on this topic. You see, there’s an app called “Microsoft Rewards” where you can basically click on ads to get points for raffles and discounts and stuff. I generally hop on and do the ones that take a few seconds, or the ones that involve playing games I’d play anyway.

    So the last one is “Check out today’s featured game and earn 5 points”, for going to the Mortal Kombat 11 store page. I select it and the store page says “Mortal Kombat 11 is currently not available.” It appears to be that screwy bundle situation you ran into with FH3, but even more ridiculous given Microsoft specifically sent me to that page deliberately to promote the game. You don’t search for it in the store, you click the ad thingy and it takes you directly the page. The wrong page.

  31. Joe says:

    So the error message from WindowsApps said “You don’t currently have permission to access this folder.” Yes, that’s irritating, then you spend a couple of paragraphs explaining the various ways you tried to take ownership of it.

    Just underneath that message, in slightly smaller text, it says “Click Continue to permanently get access to this folder.” And there’s a Continue button underneath that text.

    So, what’s the deal with that? Did clicking continue give you access to the file?

    By the way, I agree with everything in this article, and the sister-article on the Escapist. Microsoft UI’s in Windows are absolutely horrible, somehow, for some reason. It’s so wierd and stupid.

    1. Shamus says:

      When you click continue, it immediately creates ANOTHER popup saying that you don’t have permission, essentially denying you permission to do the thing it just told you to do.

      The second popup tells you to use the security tab to accomplish this.

      If you open the security tab, you click through two more boxes, click ANOTHER continue button, then it finally takes you to a permissions dialog that claims I DO have access when I don’t. Furthermore, I’m not allowed to make any changes in this dialog so there’s nothing to do.

      It’s Microsoft all the way down.

      1. Misamoto says:

        You CAN always take ownership of the directory on the PC you’re admin of, which is the ultimate permission. It’s kinda bruteforce approach, but I don’t think an app can stop you. It’s Properties->Security->Advanced and at the top of the screen is “Owner” with “Change” button-link. Should be able to do anything else after that.

        1. Ben Matthews says:

          Unfortunately, this is Microsoft we’re talking about here. ‘Should’ is very different to ‘actually can’.

  32. Richard says:

    The Game Bar is even worse than you think.

    It’s triggered by the name of the executable, and possibly some other heuristics. None of this is published anywhere – a few developers have been adding to a list on Stack Overflow.
    – Eg “Simulator.exe” and “main.exe” will (usually) trigger it, no matter what they actually are.

    It still triggers on machines that doesn’t yet have it installed, popping up an incredibly obtuse and indecipherable error message that makes it look like the application you just launched wasn’t properly installed.

    There is no way whatsoever for an application to flag themselves as “Don’t launch Game Bar for me unless the user explictly starts it themselves”.
    It is (currently) possible for an installer (running as Admin) to globally disable Game Bar by fiddling in the Registry, but obviously installers should never go around disabling OS features, the user might want/be using them.

  33. Smejki says:

    Arg. Is there a good tool to clean up clear type so screenshots don’t have this ghosting around the letters? I’ve never found a suitable way to deal with this that doesn’t turn the text into blurry mush.

    I’m using ShareX. Saving as PNG of course.
    Lightshot is also fine with more limited capabilities

  34. Ben Matthews says:

    “I wouldn’t trust them with the codebase for Notepad.”
    Considering how garbage notepad is, they can’t even get THAT right. A simple notepad with basically zero features, and it still doesn’t work properly.

    Also, the Gamebar thingie captures and outputs an mp4? That alone is reason enough not to use it.

  35. Taxi says:

    I don’t get people who say Linux is more complicated or even that it’s like learning a new language. WHAT?? It takes at least years to learn a language or a complex skill. A different OS is a bunch of different icons, a few different concepts (folder structure, way to install programs and drivers etc.) and that’s it *). Like in 2005 or so I tried a Kubuntu Live CD because I had a flu and was bored, expecting to hit a brick wall, but everything just worked (on a laptop no less) – so I just installed it on my main machine and had everything figured out and set up within the weekend. I switched back to Win when I was building a new PC and KDE 4 was an abysmal mess, but I’m not willing to accept Win10 and I don’t game on PC anymore so guess what my next OS installation will be.

    *More differences for a power user or if you need to fix a problem but not more difficult.

  36. Not that anyone likely ever reads comments buried this far ancient, but eh, I can see where the comments about That Guy were pretty much primed to rub someone the wrong way.

    You handle posts remotely lapping at political waters with deftness and aplomb. “I am not interested in relitigating previous arguments! Passions run deep, but I don’t wanna hear about it! I’m keeping comments on a tight leash, and will not think twice about pruning entire discussion branches if you can’t behave.” Great, awesome! Makes the comments section that much more amenable! Kudos.

    Contrast this post, which had a bunch of salient and accurate points, then chased it with something that scanned as “someone might come in to defend X, but that person is a moron; have you considered not sharing that opinion here, moron?” Which means that anyone with minor quibbles is basically going to politely sit on their hands, while other folks broadly of the same mindset will happily voice agreement. So you’ll hear a disproportionate amount from folks who were inclined to agree, while only That Guy types would impolitely spew contrary opinions. Which reinforces the whole “told you: they’re all That Guy morons!” experience for yourself and others.

    I mean, obviously: your site; your rules; your terms of engagement. Just seemed prickly to the point of almost spoiling for a fight; completely unsurprised to see many comments unfold the way they did.

    1. Shamus says:

      To be clear:

      It’s fine to say that you like the Windows 10 store, or that it works for you, or whatever. That doesn’t make you THAT GUY. I’m perfectly willing to hear alternate takes on the store.

      What I was pushing back against is the notion of, “This wasn’t a problem for me therefore your opinion is invalid!” That is what THAT GUY is all about. I don’t know why Microsoft’s properties seem to attract that sort of kneejerk nonsensical defense, but I’ve written a lot of these kinds of articles and there’s always someone that tries to refute 2,000 words of exhaustively cataloged UX failures with “You’re dumb and you probably pressed the wrong button.”

  37. anon says:

    You can actually play PC games with the normal xbox game pass, they just have to be “xbox play anywhere games”. Forza Horizon 4 is one so I don’t understand why you couldn’t download it. I can attest to this because it is how I played forza horizon 4 over a year ago.

    Here is something that is fun. I also tried out this Xbox Game Pass for PC and now every multiplayer game on the pass disconnects my internet whenever you try to start it up. This is a complete disconnect that can only be sorted by restarting the PC. I don’t know what is causing the problem (could be the required windows update, or the new launcher you mentioned in the article).

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