Wine 8.0 improves graphical and controller support to hook PC gamers. Will they finally switch from Windows?
The developers of Wine have announced version 8.0 of the Linux Windows compatibility layer. The new version boosts support for 32-bit Windows apps on 64-bit machines as well as 3D graphics acceleration.
Wine 8.0 Represents “A Year of Development”
The Wine developers posted an announcement on the WineHQ website. “This release represents a year of development effort and over 8,600 individual changes,” the announcement said.
The new version is available for direct download from the WineHQ website. As well as Linux, Wine is also available on other Unix-like systems, including macOS. Wine offers custom repositories for many major Linux distributions. While distro maintainers offer Wine, it will likely be an older version. The Wine developers recommend using their repositories because their versions are newer and Windows compatibility is a moving target.
What’s New in Wine 8.0?
The main upgrade in Wine 8.0 is its support for the Windows Portable Executable format or PE. A PE executable program includes all the code it needs in one binary file. When Wine 8.0 encounters such a file, it will now use native system calls instead of emulating Windows ones. This gives PE programs a significant performance boost. This also improves support for 32-bit applications on 64-bit hosts.
There are also improvements to 3D graphics performance using Direct3D. More graphics adapters are also supported in the new release. There are also improvements to the cross-platform Vulkan rendering engine.
Version 8.0, along with its graphical improvements, seems to have an eye toward improving the gaming experience. Support for more game controllers has been added. These include driving wheels as well as Sony DualShock and DualSense controllers.
Will Wine 8.0 Boost Linux Gaming?
Wine 8.0’s improvements seem intended to boost the profile of gaming on Linux. The limited availability of games on Linux has likely hampered Linux desktop adoption. Aside from graphics support, a lot of older games are 32-bit. While modern hardware is almost exclusively 64-bit, supporting older Windows apps has been easier on their native platform rather than Linux.
By making it easier to run Windows games, including older ones, Linux could attract more gamers. These improvements will likely trickle over to Proton, a Valve-sponsored derivative that’s tuned for gaming. This means that Steam Deck owners will eventually be able to take advantage of them as well.
Wine 8.0 a Boon for Linux, Windows Go-Betweens
By making it possible to run Linux and Windows programs without a virtual machine, Wine is useful for desktop Linux users who need to run an occasional Windows program (or game). Wine 8.0 will likely continue that tradition. It’s available for many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu.