Microsoft

Evolve E3 trailer gets down and dirty with a brand-new Cthulhu-esque monster

Andy Chalk at

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.


Watch the Microsoft E3 2014 press conference live

PC Gamer at

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.


Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is coming to Steam in June

Andy Chalk at

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.


Halo: Combat Evolved patch will save multiplayer after Gamespy shutdown

Phil Savage at

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".


Microsoft Game Studios hiring for "AAA strategy game in a well-loved franchise"

Emanuel Maiberg at

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.


Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available from April 8th

Dave James at

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.


Microsoft reveals DirectX 12, a "thinner" graphics API with 50% better CPU utilization

Emanuel Maiberg at

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.


DirectX 12 is incoming, is this a return to the API wars?

Dave James at

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.


What we want from Windows 9

PC Gamer at

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.


Is Microsoft going Mantle?

Dave James at

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.


Source: Former Steam head Jason Holtman has left Microsoft

Ian Birnbaum at

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.


Satya Nadella is Microsoft's new CEO, focused on cloud, mobile

Emanuel Maiberg at

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.


Windows 9 release date set for April 2015

Dave James at

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

Tom Sykes at

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.


Microsoft planning to bring more first-party titles to PC

Phil Savage at

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.


Cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One "makes a lot of sense," says Microsoft exec

Perry Vandell at

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.


Peggle 2 and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare won't be on PC at launch

Phil Savage at

As expected, Microsoft's Gamescom conference held little for personal computer fans (by which I mean people, not heat sinks and stuff). The electro-megacorp have been been quietly dialling back their haphazard PC support over the last week, so they were hardly going to give us a mention now - lest they offend the potentially self-aware Xbone megalith. But nestled amongst their pre-order bonuses and launch exclusives, there was some PC news. Bad PC news: Popcap's Peggle 2 will be spending some time trapped in the Xbox exclusivity prison.


Games for Windows Marketplace to close next week

Phil Savage at

Xbox.com's PC store, the Games for Windows Marketplace, is set to shut down next week, as announced by Microsoft's almost comically outdated Games for Windows Facebook page. According to their post, users will no longer be able to buy games through the service. The Games for Windows Client will still provide access to existing purchases.


Microsoft's Xbox One controller won't work with PCs until next year

Dave James at

Yes, at launch, you won't be able to plug an Xbox One controller into your PC and have it just work. According to Microsoft, in a quick chat with VentureBeat, new software has “to be written and optimised for the PC.”

While they look very similar Microsoft states that the two controllers don’t really share the same technology at their hearts. The Big M’s spokesmen cite a new wireless protocol “and additional features like Impulse triggers” as why they’re only going to be compatible with the Xbox One from launch. They do expect to be able to get the controllers working across the range of PC games which supported the ever-popular Xbox 360 controller some time next year.


Former Steam director Jason Holtman moves to Microsoft, to focus on PC gaming

Phil Savage at

A quick exercise, before we begin a day of Hard News: list the various PC game-selling digital storefronts/services by your order of preference. I'm going to guess that, for most people, Steam and GOG will be towards the top; GamesGate, GMG and Desura will be filling out the middle; and that Origin will be the Wildcard - its placing likely dependant around each person's perception of its parent company. Then we have Microsoft, with Games for Windows Live/Marketplace and the Windows Store. Neither is much loved, and neither has earned much reason to be. And, at a guess, Microsoft isn't too happy about that situation.

Which may explain why they've hired Jason Holtman, Valve's former director of business development for Steam. His new focus at Microsoft: PC gaming and entertainment strategy.