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What Can Gamers Expect from Vista?
The year 2006 is slowly drawing to a close. Waving goodbye to all the games behind us, we are gradually making room for the onslaught of next-generation gaming technologies. Accordingly, terms like Unreal 3 engine, GeForce 8800, Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 come to mind. It's patently obvious that next-generation consoles continue to dominate the industry. So, while the world's top electronic entertainment companies are holding their breath for public feedback on their new-fangled consoles, PC gamers are also looking towards a bright future. (We get branded as well! Wait, is that a good thing? - Ed) The following year will mark a new beginning for PC owners, as it opens the doors to Microsoft's upcoming OS, Windows Vista.
Action Trip got in touch with people relevant to the project, who could explain to us why we as gamers should be excited about Vista.
We must stress that certain Vista-specific information, as we were told by Microsoft, can be attributed to a "Microsoft Spokesperson." In response to further inquires, which are related to Windows Gaming, MS directed us to Rich Wickham, director of Games for Windows. So, let's start with that shall we:
ActionTrip: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.
Rich Wickham: I'm Rich Wickham, and I manage the Games for Windows business at Microsoft. My job includes setting our overall strategy, negotiating business deals (like the new Games for Windows: The Official Magazine and product development deals) and working closely with our internal and external partners to get ready for the launch of Windows Vista.
ActionTrip: We already know of several Vista-ready games such as Crysis, Halo 2, Alan Wake, etc. Can we expect to see other major releases like Gears of War PC any time soon?
Rich Wickham: In addition to the games you mention, great Games for Windows titles like "Bioshock," "Hellgate: London," "Supreme Commander" and others are coming to Windows in 2007. Some recently released games, like "Company of Heroes," "Lego Star Wars 2," and "Flight Simulator X," will take advantage of Windows Vista features as well. Gamers should look for the Games for Windows branding on titles to make sure they are getting a game that will play great on Windows XP and even better on Windows Vista.
"Gears of War" is a tremendous game and is doing extremely well on Xbox 360. Epic continues to be a great Windows developer (I can't wait for "Unreal Tournament 2007" on Windows), but we have no announcements about "Gears of War" on Windows at this time.
ActionTrip: We wanted to know more about future Vista and Xbox 360 compatibility. Could you offer us a more detailed insight on the way users will be able to connect their home PCs with their Xbox 360 units?
Rich Wickham: As you know, you currently can use your Xbox 360 as an extender with your Media Center PC. That integration is tighter in Windows Vista, and I think you'll see more and more folks connecting their devices on home networks. At home, I stream my photos and music from my PC to my Xbox 360, which is very cool.
Of course, we're also bringing Live to Windows Vista in 2007. Windows gamers will experience Live in titles like "Shadowrun," "Halo 2 for Windows Vista" and "Marvel Online." "Shadowrun" will support cross-platform play between Windows Vista and Xbox 360. I've played "Shadowrun" on Windows Vista against folks on Xbox 360 - it's a lot of fun, and as you can imagine, there's plenty of Windows vs. console smack talk. We're also working closely with third party developers to make sure there are a broad variety of Games for Windows titles supporting Live in the future.
ActionTrip: Recent tests and benchmarks indicated that a great number of classic PC games run pretty well on Windows Vista. Are you worried about potential compatibility issues with older software?
Rich Wickham: I don't think compatibility concerns should keep a gamer from upgrading to Windows Vista, even from day 1. We've been testing hundreds of games for Windows Vista compatibility for more than a year now. We're very happy with the results so far, and we'll keep working and engaging with our software and hardware partners to make sure we address any issues.
ActionTrip: Online gaming is quickly becoming the center of the modern-day entertainment industry. Are there any improvements made in Windows Vista that would ensure a more streamlined process of online gaming?
Rich Wickham: Online gaming is definitely a center of entertainment, and a lot of that excitement is happening on Windows. That's one of the key reasons we're bringing the best online gaming experience, Live, to the Windows platform. There are also improved networking and security features that will improve the online gaming experience on Windows Vista.
Beyond online, there's a lot more to the Windows Vista story for gamers. We've built a number of improvements right into Windows Vista to make gaming easier, safer and more fun than ever before. For example, we've created the Games Explorer, which launches right off the Start menu, so that folks can easily find, organize, save and learn more about their games. We've also developed a rich set of Parental Controls that give parents more peace of mind about their children's activities on their home PC. And we're working with developers to make the game installation process faster and easier than it has been in the past. In fact, when you see the Games for Windows brand on a title, you'll know it supports all of these features (and more).
The biggest development, of course, is DirectX 10, which is exclusive to Windows Vista. DirectX 10 is deeply integrated into Windows Vista and will deliver a quantum leap in graphics technology, with the most realistic and immersive games on any system. Great games like "Crysis," "Hellgate: London," and "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures" will support Direct X10 and make gaming on Windows Vista a tremendous experience.
The last couple of questions were answered by a "Microsoft representative." No further details were provided.
Q: Tell our readers more about Windows Aero. Users are more than likely facing a few necessary hardware upgrades if they want to witness the full potential of Vista. New and better software applications, and even modern video games for that matter, already compel users to improve their home PCs. Do you sometimes feel you guys have set the bar a bit too high for PCs that are "Vista Premium Ready"?
A: As hardware continues to evolve, so too will software. We designed Windows Vista to provide advanced security, reliability and management of the PC, new and more flexible way of organizing information and new ways of connecting with people, places and devices - all of which necessitates more advanced hardware. Windows Vista to run on vast majority of computers being sold today and also will be able to take full advantage of the cutting edge graphics cards, increasing processing power and expanding memory capabilities that PCs will have in the future. For more information on Windows Vista Capable and Premium Ready requirements can be found at www.windowsvista.com/getready
And in the end, we just wanted to make sure things are on schedule.
Q: The mainstream launch of Vista is still projected for January, right? The business launch of Vista is slated for this month. When can companies expect to be able to place their orders for Vista Business?
A: We will deliver Windows Vista to our Volume license customers by the end of November so they can move forward on their planning and deployment. Windows Vista will be made broadly available on January 30, 2007.
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