Wine 8.0 improves graphics and controller support to hook PC gamers. Will they finally switch from Windows?
Wine developers have announced version 8.0 of the Windows Linux Compatibility Layer. The new version improves support for 32-bit Windows applications on 64-bit machines as well as 3D graphics acceleration.
Wine 8.0 represents “A year of development”
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 reads.
The new version is available for direct download on the WineHQ website. In addition to Linux, Wine is also available on other Unix-like systems, including macOS. Wine offers custom repositories for many major Linux distributions. Although the distro maintainers offer Wine, it will likely be an older version. Wine developers recommend using their repositories as their versions are newer and Windows compatibility is a moving target.
What’s new in Wine 8.0?
The main update of Wine 8.0 is its support for the Windows Portable Executable or PE format. A PE executable program includes all the code it needs in a binary file. When Wine 8.0 encounters such a file, it now uses native system calls instead of emulating Windows ones. This gives PE programs a significant performance boost. It also improves support for 32-bit applications on 64-bit hosts.
There are also 3D graphics performance improvements using Direct3D. More graphics adapters are also supported in the new version. There are also improvements to the cross-platform Vulkan renderer.
Version 8.0, with its graphical improvements, seems to be aimed at improving the gaming experience. Support for more game controllers has been added. These include drive wheels as well as Sony DualShock and DualSense controllers.
Will Wine 8.0 boost Linux games?
Improvements in Wine 8.0 seem intended to raise the profile of gaming on Linux. The limited availability of games on Linux has likely hindered the adoption of Linux desktop computers. Besides graphics support, many older games are 32-bit. While modern hardware is almost exclusively 64-bit, supporting older Windows applications has been easier on their native platform than on Linux.
By making it easier to run Windows games, including older ones, Linux could attract more gamers. These improvements will likely carry over to Proton, a Valve-sponsored spinoff designed for gaming. This means Steam Deck owners will eventually be able to enjoy it as well.
Wine 8.0 a boon for Linux, Windows Go-Betweens
By allowing Linux and Windows programs to be run 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 this tradition. It is available for many Linux distributions including Ubuntu.