XNA developers and Windows 8




A large number of the UK’s Universities and colleges have been using XNA since 2004 within gaming course curricula on Windows, XBox and Windows Phone. We have a huge set of Free curricula resources for  XNA  game development at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

XNA over the last 7 years has provide a number of students and indie game developers with an impressive content pipeline, game assets, load functionality, animation, math, sound and user input tracking via gamepad, mouse, keyboard and touch with game logic organized in a straightforward game loop architecture, more recently we have also added curricula for XNA and Kinect.

Within education XNA has been a huge driver for a number of students and developers who wanted to learn how to create games. XNA along with Visual Studio made it as easy as File –> New –> XNA Game Studio Project and you were off developing.

Since Windows 8 is built on the strong foundation of Windows 7, any app built for Windows will run in the Windows 8 desktop environment. This includes apps based on XNA, Win32, .NET, WPF, Silverlight, etc. 

Windows 8 also introduces a new type of app called a Metro Style App for developers that wish to make their app available in the Windows 8 Store, for free or for sale. Using Visual Studio 2012, you have a language choice of C++, XAML with C#, VB or C++, or HTML5/JS to create a Metro Style App.

Using the XNA Framework is not a choice for building a Metro Style App. Official Microsoft guidance on game development is documented here.

Windows 8 allows you too build highly immersive games using HTML5/JS, XAML/C#, XAML/VB or C++ and DirectX.

However a number of you have already stressed too me, that you and your students have been developing with XNA and have an existing code base, or would like to import existing XNA games too Windows 8 your only option it would seem is running as a desktop app.

This is where MonoGame comes in…


MonoGame is an Open Source implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework. The goal is to allow XNA developers on Windows & Windows Phone to port their games to the iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux with both PlayStation Suite and Windows 8 support currently under development.

NOTE : This project is not linked with Microsoft or any of it subsidiaries. It is a non-profit, open source project. MonoGame is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)

MonoGame provides a cross platform XNA Framework implementation for XNA developers who want to take their code to non-Microsoft platforms as well as the ability, to target Windows 8.

MonoGame for Windows 8  you can take your XNA code and with a recompile and some additional features too simply create a Metro Style App for example Armed within the Windows Store uses MonoGame. I have too stress MonoGame is still under development and so any use of it should come with a note of advice to stay on top of that effort.

In order to provide a complete implementation of XNA on Windows 8, MonoGame leverages SharpDX , an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API for managed code (.NET) and Windows 8 (WinRT). SharpDX is an open-source project, free of charge available under the following MIT License.

Theoretically by moving your code over into a new Visual Studio Project Solution along with MonoGame, you should de able too recompile a Windows 8 Metro Style game so if your a XNA Developer give it a try and let me know the results.

Comments (12)
  1. Scott Barnes says:

    Are you freakin serious. You outline how popular XNA is to date and then you follow up with "So given we're ignoring XNA in Win8 and its fan base we'd like you to start over with Mono"

    Someone inside Microsoft needs to grab the DPE and Owners of Developer Relations and sit down have an adult conversation around NSAT levels and ways to improve them. Right now you're getting killed with posts like this.

  2. Not an XNA Developer says:

    I am Not an XNA Developer, but, this is ridiculous: it just further supports my choice of non-MS development tools for targeting Windows.

  3. A former XNA developer says:

    Well done Microsoft. You just killed XNA and try to replace it with an insanely unstable and incomplete system. And what about X-Box consoles? I doubt Monogame will work on the console at all. Back to the stoneage.

  4. Simon (Darkside) Jackson says:

    I'm sorry but I'd have to agree with the other commenter's here, this is a terrible article that simply shouts Microsoft are ignoring the backing they have gained with Education (And I remember the big push in the beginning to get schools and universities to adopt game programming courses with XNA for an EASY route to game development FUN and general programming) only to say we cannot be bothered any more.

    I fully understand Windows 8 "METRO's" focus around C++ to woo big game studios to build for the platform and provide big experiences.

    BUT XNA is NOT dead, you carefully state you can still build XNA apps for the desktop, they just won't have an ICON on the Windows Metro dashboard.  In the end XNA games can still be developed on Windows 8 in Visual Studio (it remains to be seen if you can still do XNA in VS 2012, if not then it will be a crying shame but not a complete loss) and XNA games will run on Windows 8 fine.

    Granted there have been no further developments with XNA since WP7 came out, no higher level DirectX/3D support (but this is most likely because of the XBOX focus)

    I also have to applaud your calling out of MonoGame and then promptly stating you have nothing to do with it :D.  A minor correction, the BIG MonoGame title currently on the Windows Store is called "ARMED" NOT "armor", i'm sure the guys at SickHeadGames who make Armed would be happy to hear of your mention.

    The last crying point is this article has no conclusion, no direction other that to point out some random facts.

    I'll leave off with a statement:

    "XNA IS NOT DEAD" granted MS are not fully supporting it (so it seems) but there have been no cancellation dates or withdrawal of support and at last count there were still a few members of the XNA team left (granted mostly supporting phone at the moment)

    XNA can still be written for XBOX360, Windows Phone, Windows (ALL VERSIONS from XP upwards) and through frameworks like MonoGame and SunBurn (even Unity if you read the UnityXNA posts) using at present VS 2010 regardless of the platform you want to code it from.

    If XNA isn't Metro so be it, I can live without a live tile for now.

    And in parting, I love that you state "Windows 8 also introduces a new type of app called a Metro Style App", which states it ADDS (not removes) something to the eco system, why would that mean XNA is dead?.  The sheer fact that you say XNA is not Metro so it has to go in favour of two other options that are also NOT Metro is just fun.

  5. Lee Stott says:

    Hi, thanks for the comments

    Firstly as Simon states "XNA IS NOT DEAD" XNA, is still a key part of the academic curricula, specifically for courses teaching XBOX360, Windows Phone, Windows PC gaming (ALL VERSIONS from XP upwards including Windows 8)

    What Monogame and other 3rd party frameworks simply provide, is a way of exposing your current XNA game development investments. By exposing these simply provide you with the ability to create a Windows 8 Metro Style App and more importantly from a developer perspective the opportunity of a sale via the Windows Store.

    Via the Windows Store you can also advertise your existing Windows Win32 game and gain 100% income from in game purchases for more details of the store see blogs.msdn.com/…/windowsstore

    In regards to tutorials, walkthroughs and guidance, the purpose of this article was to simply highlight the fact you can take your existing learning, assest and experience and have the opportunity of developing a Windows 8 Metro Style App and to stress "XNA is NOT DEAD!"

    I would love help from the academic community and for you to share your experiences and curricula with other academics via http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

    A number of existing XNA developers are already using Monogame and sharing their experience via Youtube etc. see the following example http://youtu.be/-ycmeVYm_gI

    So if you do have any experience, sample, tutorials or walkthroughs then please get in touch.

  6. Darks1de says:

    Thanks for the Stout reply Lee.  Nicely rounds off what you were aiming for in this article I think.

    One little clarification, You can still publish native XNA apps to the windows store to target X86 Windows Desktops (NOT ARM), but you must handle payments yourself (some use paypal) and you must also have a Store Company account which has it's own caveats.

    With MonoGame/SharpDX/ SunBurn or other XNA extension framework that supports Metro fully, you will be able to target all Metro platforms including WinRT.

    Again thanks for the calm response to my obvious Rant Lee 😀

  7. Ben P says:

    XNA is far from dead.

    First of all, as has been stated, XNA for WP7 will work on the WP8 – although there has been a lot of worrying noise about a "quirks" mode, and it would be nice if someone could clarify whether an XNA game can be downloaded and payed on a WP8 in the same way as a WP7, or if some fiddling with settings will be required.

    Secondly, I look at the environment around me. My workplace is primarily Win7, with a few on Vista and the odd XP lurking. My laptop runs Win7, and my desktop and my girlfriend's laptop are still XP. A number of non-developer tech forums are making a lot of noise about rollout times and people not wanting to change. Even developers – who tend toward shiny new stuff – seem to have a significant number saying they're not touching Win8 until service pack 1.

    In short, the Win7/WP7 ecosystem is not going anywhere for a while yet. Similarly, we still know next to nothing about the Xbox 360s successor. And while these live, so does XNA.

    And I certainly don't have the time – or inclination – to start from scratch learning C++…

  8. DustinH says:

    I think a lot of people are getting worked up in a tizzy when the simple fact is… we just don't know anything yet.  XNA is not going to be tied to a particular release of Windows… it never has been.  It's associated with DirectX since it's really a managed wrapper and framework on top of DX.  

    If there is another version of XNA, it will likely be DirectX 11 based.  However, I wouldn't expect to see a new version of XNA until the new XBOX is released.

    Now here's an interesting situation.  If a new version of XNA does expose more hardware capabilities and give us the ability to write more robust and quality games for xbox, then it's not going to work with the 360, plain and simple.  The 360 has a limited memory space for XNA.

    I fully anticipate the new console to support indie game development but I don't think it will be XNA as we know it today.  It might be similar, in fact nearly identical… but as it won't be backward compatible with the xbox 360, it may even be a different product.

    Another thing to look at is the unification of platforms… Microsoft is making code bases more common between tablets, phones and PCs with Win RT.  Now take a look at their suggestions for game development for Metro… you can write using C++ and DX, or you can use MonoGame or a DX wrapper like SlimDX or SharpDX.  That sounds promising to me… just think, maybe DirectX will be exposed to a degree in the new consoles, allowing us to choose which framework we use.  This could be XNA, or SlimDX or SharpDX or possible even MonoGame.  I think that's a good possibility.

  9. Lee Stott says:

    To All

    I would like to make you all aware of the following walkthrough from a colleague Bob familiar of using MonoGame to port an existing XNA game to Windows 8 Metro Style App

    Step 1 Overview


    Step 2 Getting Started


    Step 3 Migration Porting and Windows Store


  10. Randy_of_Neuron says:

    Gamasutra is spreading this rumor now based on a blog.  So is it still not true.  I can't see MS doing what Gamasutra is saying but…

  11. Maybe you forget that stupid Monogame lacks the content manager and you still need XNA to build your assets to xnb format

  12. David Marshall says:

    You're forgetting one thing – most XNA/indie games are complete JUNK!

    I say 'good riddance' to these wannabee (and never going to be) kiddie coders.

    Game development is now back where it belongs, in C++ and finally the wheat has been separated from the chaff.

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