Microsoft

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.


Reinstall: Rise of Nations

Duncan Geere at

It all begins so peacefully. A vast field of inky darkness, with just one point of light in the middle. Within it, a library stands tall and proud, but with many shelves left empty. Next to it, a few fields are tended by villagers, and a woodcutters’ camp stands in a clearing nearby. A scout sits and strokes his pet dog. In the middle of it all stands the town centre, its homes packed with children, waiting to come of age and leave a legacy unmatched by any other civilisation on Earth.

Rise of Nations attempts something quite audacious: fitting the entire span of human history into your lunch hour. It’s real-time, as in ‘real-time strategy’, but it accelerates that supposedly ‘real’ time to ludicrous levels, packing the scope of a game of Civilization into an hour without compromising on the detail. You might send a group of hoplites into battle with bronze spears and have them arrive armed with muskets. Imagine the aforementioned Civilization blended with Age of Empires, the Total War series and Red Alert and you’re getting close, but Rise of Nations has a few tricks of its own.


Hate me for it if you want, but I like Windows 8.1. Here's why.

Dave James at

Right, I’m very much aware there’s a good number of folk out there with absolutely no interest in Windows 8 or it’s subsequent updates and I’m likely to be vilified in the comments for saying this, but I’m still a big fan. I like the apps, don’t mind the new interface - even on a desktop rig - and it’s got a host of behind the scenes code improvements for gamers.

And with the Windows 8.1 Preview released last week, around Microsoft’s Build developer’s conference, I think this latest OS has only gotten better.


Project Spark beta registrations now open

Katie Williams at

Yo dawg, we heard you like games... Yeah, so remember Project Spark, that "game-making game" that was so tantalizingly, so awkwardly revealed to us by Microsoft at this year's E3? Its website is now accepting sign-ups for beta, so get on over there if you're keen to craft some whimsy.


E3 2013: What the next gen consoles mean for the PC

PC Gamer at

Xbox One. PS4. What effect will the poster children of E3 2013 have on the future of PC Gaming? Will new hardware architecture mean more high-profile PC ports or—dare we say it—PC-led titles that are ported for consoles afterwards? Are Microsoft's touted 15 exclusive launch titles going to be anything we'd even want in the first place? Will the pull of the indie scene be enough to turn gamers away from hardware manufacturers that shun them? We chew on this, and feed you our analysis like a mother bird to her chicks.


E3 2013: The impact on the PC

PC Gamer at

The new consoles have the spotlight at E3 2013 this year, but what will the expo's many reveals, demos, hardware rollouts, and buzzwords mean for the PC? Is this even a show for us at all, with the focus on the brick and mortar retail market? We discuss the implications, and speculate on which of the big, all-star console titles will eventually make it to our corner of the gaming universe.


State of Decay: the state of the delay on this open world zombie survival game

Tom Sykes at

Zombie-infested open world survival sim State of Decay is out now for the Xbox -1, but we haven't heard a groan about the PC version for quite a while. Unfortunately, now that we have, it's not all good news - while the game will be coming to lap/desktops at some point, "it isn't going to be soon by any meaningful use of the word 'soon'." The zombie apocalypse just got a little more depressing.


EA CTO: Xbox One architecture is "a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market"

Tyler Wilde at

Former Microsoft Corporate VP and current EA Chief Technology Officer Rajat Taneja has claimed in a LinkedIn post (thanks, GamesIndustry) that the Xbox One and PS4's architectures are "a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market."


Microsoft (still) won't focus on the "traditional desktop PC game"

Phil Savage at

You can't see my face right now, but it's contorted into an expression of bemused bewilderment. That's because of an interview by ShackNews with the excellently named Matt Booty, Microsoft's "general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms". In it, he distances the company's Windows game strategy away from the perception of the "more traditional desktop PC game," heavily suggesting that the majority of the Xbox One's "15 exclusives" won't be arriving on Microsoft's other platform.


Kinect will be available for Windows PCs "at some point"

Ian Birnbaum at

While the internet took cover from the barrage of Xbox One announcement news yesterday, some pertinent details for us PC gamers slowly rose to the surface of the TV-TV-Sports-Dog news conference. Among them were the release date for Battlefield 4, what the Xbox One might mean for PC gamers, and the hint that the Kinect 2.0 will eventually be available for Windows.