Until recently, PC gaming could be a tiresome excercise of system configuration. PC gamers typically upgrade their systems to harness the most powerful graphics imaginable, but have to tweak and configure their systems to provide a smooth gameplay experience.
PC Gaming has never really reached the simple and cohesive experience of a dedicated gaming console. Microsoft has been trying to make the PC a serious and simple gaming experience with iinitiatives like DirectX (which led to the birth of the original Xbox), and “Games for Windows”. Now Microsoft is releasing products that not only allow you to use your Xbox 360 hardware on your PC, but do so with the same ease of its console brother.
Microsoft has finally released the Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows, which finally allows your PC to use all of your wireless Xbox 360 peripherals.
The wired version of the Xbox 360 controller for Windows (reviewed here) worked well with Windows XP, via a simple driver installation. This was nice, and was one of the best gamepads for the PC, but didn’t make use of all of the controller’s features like the Xbox 360 does. Genres that benefit from a gamepad (like fighting or platform games) have never really had much of an audience on the PC, as most PC gamers either play casual games with the mouse or First-Person-Shooters like Doom, Half-Life 2, and Battlefield 2142 (although a gamepad is almost essential when piloting a fighter jet or helicopter). Complicating the matter further is that many PC games do not have native gamepad support, which requires tedious manual assigning the game’s functions to the controller’s buttons. Some PC games do not support gamepads or joysticks at all.
That has all changed with DirectX 10 and Windows Vista. To qualify for the “Games for Windows” branding, game developers will be required to, among other things, support all Xbox controllers via the ‘DirectInput’ subset of DirectX. The requirement should finally make a gamepad a feasible option for hardcore and casual PC gamers alike and will be a strong factor in unifying Vista as a gaming platform.
Windows Vista will be Microsoft’s warmest embrace of gaming yet. Vista’s Games Explorer consolidates installed games and offers features like parental control. That’s actually only the surface of a broader “Games for Windows” push that Microsoft is only just beginning to ramp up, which will shortly include a lot of marketing, unified design for game boxes and more prominent retail placement in stores. The Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows lets you take your quality, wireless gaming experiences that you enjoy on your console and experience them on your Windows gaming platform.