The second iteration of Kinect will launch for PC this month, according to a listing on the Microsoft store. The updated motion sensor technology hasn't exactly set the console world alight, with Microsoft finally opting to release its Xbox One console without the sensor. In addition, there's barely any software that utilises it in any meaningful way. Still, it's there if you want it for US $199.
Games for Windows Live has been in a Schrödinger's service-style quandary since last year, when a (quickly deleted) Age of Empires Online support update claimed it would shut down this July 1st. Ever since, it's been suspended in an atmosphere of non-life: functional, yet dead—many of its games fleeing for the safety of a Steamworks alternative.
Lending credence to its demise was Microsoft's complete lack of follow-up statement. Their silence suggested that they'd rather forget about the existence of the client... and of the PC entirely. Now, though, just over a week before its apparent closure, Microsoft have rumbled into life—their new statement revealing a plan of "continuing to support the Games for Windows Live service".
You may have noticed that Microsoft's E3 press event was heavy on the Xbox and rather light on Windows—which is to say, it didn't come up at all. According to Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft's Xbox division and Microsoft Game Studios, there's a good reason for that: E3 is a "console show," and Microsoft didn't want to bring a gun to a knife fight.
I've always loved Halo, and I've always believed that it should have had a bigger presence on PC. That sentiment is probably enough to get me drawn and quartered in the comments below—we always get a few people who believe that a holiday in console land warrants permanent exile from the PC's glittering clubhouse. I don't feel that way. If we ignored what consoles we're doing we'd never have brought Dark Souls to PC. If we don't pay attention the games that they're getting and we're not, we miss out on our chance to broaden the range of experiences on our chosen platform.
Turtle Rock Studios unveiled an all-new Evolve gameplay trailer at Microsoft's E3 presser, complete with a never-before-seen glowing-eyed electro-squid monster that could have come straight out the Lovecraft mythos.
Will Microsoft talk about any PC games this year? There's only one way to find out. Their E3 2014 press event starts at 9:30AM PDT / 12:30PM EDT / 5:30PM BST, though it's not exactly a conference for press when Twitch is streaming to every Tom, Dick and Sally with an internet connection and working eyeballs. It's more of a variety performance delivered by a troupe of executive types in jean-jacket combos, which ought to be entertaining in itself. Also, they might announce that Destiny is coming to PC, or something. We can dream, anyway. Click through for the stream embed.
It's been more than ten years since Big Huge Games released the history-spanning RTS Rise of Nations, and yet it still boasts a small but powerfully dedicated fan base. Last year, in a look back at the original game, we hoped that "perhaps one day Rise of Nations could be rescued." And now, after a fashion, it has: Microsoft has apparently acquired the rights to the game and is getting ready to unleash Rise of Nations: Extended Edition on Steam.
While EA are flailing about, trying to find a solution to their GameSpy service shutdown woes, Bungie have been secretly working with top men to ensure that their game lives on. Halo: Combat Evolved will receive a patch that will ensure the game's multiplayer lobby will work "just as it always has".
We love Microsoft’s and Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires series. Those games are so well designed, they hold up even more than a decade after release. Just ask Sam, who reviewed spin-off Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, a spruced up version of the original game. Microsoft has been giving the series some love lately, cleaning up and releasing the Age of Empires games on Steam. Could it be gearing up for a proper sequel? A recent job listing gives us reason to hope that it is.
If you've made the move to Microsoft’s much-maligned operating system, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available on the 8th April. This is the update set to improve the OS and its interface for Microsoft’s core audience: us keyboard and mouse-using folk.
The big changes seem to revolve around the taskbar. With Update 1, it's possible to pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar—the Store icon is pinned there by default—and it will also appear within the Modern UI interface. This should give you a bit more consistency in your experience if you're moving between interfaces.
Today at GDC, Microsoft revealed the newest version of its graphics API, DirectX12. As we’ve been expecting, it’s a “thinner,” lower level API, with less abstraction between software and hardware. That means more involved development, but access to much better performance. Microsoft said that it allows for console-level efficiency on PC, a point they stressed with a ported tech demo of Forza Motorsport 5 running on PC. Forza was running on an Nvidia Titan Black, however, which is a much more powerful GPU than the Xbox One's.
We’ve already spoken about the possibility of Microsoft changing their DirectX API to be more like AMD’s new Mantle API - bringing developers more access to the actual performance hardware. Now it looks they are going to be announcing a whole new iteration of the Microsoft API and not just an update.
A new Twitter account has appeared, called DirectX12, and has teased an announcement set to take place at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in a couple weeks time.
Windows 8 hasn't exactly been a stunning success. Fewer than 12 percent of PCs run Windows 8 or 8.1, compared with 47 percent for Windows 7 and 29 percent for XP. It's still more than Mac OS X and Vista combined, but that's small consolation. So we're already looking forward to Windows 9, which will hopefully continue the tradition—firmly entrenched in both Windows and Star Trek chronology—of coming out with something good every other try. (Galaxy Quest counts as one of the good Star Treks, by the way.)
Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, is still at least a year away. Sourcey-types peg it at April 2015, so there's plenty of time for Microsoft to release something that's fully baked to make up for the melange of awesome and not-awesome that is Windows 8. So with that, here are our demands for Windows 9.
Valve is nipping at your heels, Microsoft. It's time to pay attention to PC gamers again.
Over on the Neogaf forums one of their members has dug up a couple of interesting sessions from the next Games Developer’s Conference (GDC) taking place in a couple of weeks in sunny San Francisco. Both of which are talking about bringing Microsoft’s DirectX API a lot closer to the metal.
That means giving developers much more open access to the actual hardware that’s available inside modern PCs, without hiding it behind layers and layers of performance-sapping software code.
If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what AMD have been trying to do - relatively successfully by what I’ve seen in the StarSwarm demo and high-end Battlefield 4 benchmarks.
Microsoft’s often troubled relationship with PC gaming took a positive step in our eyes when the company hired Jason Holtman, previously the head of Steam at Valve, last summer. Now it looks like the gain was short-lived as it emerges that Holtman has left Microsoft after only six months.
Microsoft's new CEO is a man named Satya Nadella, and if you don't follow tech news chances are you haven't heard of him until just now. He's been with the company for 22 years—almost half his life—and is the company's third CEO, following Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.
It looks like the anticipated 2015 Windows 8 update, code-named ‘Threshold’, is actually going to be released as a whole new iteration of the operating system. By calling it Windows 9 it looks like Microsoft are hoping to draw a line under Win8 like they did with Vista.
We will still be getting an update to Windows 8.1 this year sometime around April. According to ZDNet the update will be free and there are some indications that they are looking for ways to “make Windows 8.1 friendlier for mouse and keyboard users.”
Games for Windows Live will soon be dead (hooray!), here's a list of devs removing it from their games
RIP Games for Windows Live, we hardly knew ye. On second thoughts, we knew ye pretty well, and we hated your malodorous guts - good riddance. Of course, with Microsoft's hated games service going the way of the passenger pigeon (I was going to say dodo, but a load of animals have sadly been made extinct since then), there's the little matter of what's going to happen to all the games infested with GFWL. Will they be playable after July 1st, when the service is being taken out to the woodshed to be shot in the head? It's still unclear, but it doesn't seem likely - unless developers take it upon themselves to patch their games.
So far, only Fallout 3, Bioshock 2, the Arkham games, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Toy Soldiers have extracted the service, leaving a few dozen games with the sword of DRMacles hanging over their heads. Thanks to Joystiq, we now at least know which developers and games are aiming to follow suit.
I've always found it a bit weird that the ancient PC game publisher and OS manufacturer Microsoft - custodians of venerable series like Flight Simulator and Age of Empires - would let some new upstart company, the one responsible for the Xboxes and Zunes and tile-based operating systems, also be called Microsoft. Surely that's grounds for- wait, what do you mean they're the same Microsoft? How does that make any sense?
Oh, right, apparently the two Microsofts really are one and the same, meaning that the decline, neglect and - in the case of Games for Windows Live - open hostility to the PC as a platform was some bold form of marketing strategy. But now, Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer wants to reconcile the two images, and again start bringing their first-party games home.
Microsoft’s investment in PC gaming has felt half-hearted over the past several years. It locked Halo 2 and Gears of Wars into the now waning Games for Windows Live ecosystem, and it’s become abundantly clear that Microsoft is leaving video games up to the Xbox division. However, a recent interview between Microsoft and AusGamers reveals that Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer is open to the idea of cross platform play between the Xbox One and PCs.