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 (opens in new tab) , 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.
But a year is a long time to wait for some PC drivers to be written for what is essentially a PC-based console peripheral. Why care? Well, the original Xbox 360 controller is still one of the finest PC gamepads around, though Razer did a fine job of upping the ante (opens in new tab) . The Xbox One version is apparently sporting some forty odd design improvements to justify the R&D dollars Microsoft has thrown at it.
Most of those design changes are based around the ergonomics, streamlining the grip, removing any screw-holes and adding in those Impulse triggers, complete with the tickly haptic feedback motors attached to them.
Fingers crossed we'll get some enterprising techie types messing around with the controller as soon as it's launched, though. I would expect to see unofficial drivers pretty quickly.
But as advanced as the new controller is set to be, it's surely still not going to be as accurate or versatile as the classic keyboard/mouse combo for many games. Personally, for some arcadey games I'll switch on my wireless 360 pad, but for the most part I'm still bound to my Corsair Vengeance K70 (opens in new tab) and Shogun Bros. Ballista MK-1.