By Adam Hartley
According to an open letter from Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Interactive Entertainment Business, Entertainment and Devices Division (phew), Peter Moore:
Mark your calendars: January 30th 2007 will be the most significant day in gaming for the next several years.
Of course, he is referring to the launch of Microsoft’s Vista operating system – and not some shock Xbox 720 launch. If this is indeed the most significant day in gaming for several years, it also means that we won’t be seeing any new iteration of the Xbox for a significant period.
As you’d expect, March 23rd - the launch of the PlayStation - doesn’t come into play as a significant event either.
With a resurgent Apple; and with Linux distros growing in ease of installation and use, Microsoft is determined to ensure that its biggest earner – the operating system – is firmly in the hearts and minds of every computer user on the planet.
And he doesn’t stop there, apparently Vista is, “the largest and most significant advance in gaming technology Microsoft has ever made.” Take that Xbox fans!
You can see the full, unedited version of Moore’s letter below this news piece, outlining why Microsoft is treating (or, in Peter’s terminology, ‘driving’) Windows Vista as a true gaming platform and not just another OS update.
It has to be said that Vista is crucial to Microsoft in all aspects of its business. While you will also see the OS aimed at business, academia and the generic ‘home user’ in coming days, the company is targeting Vista at gamers. This is because gamers represent a - if not ‘the’ – crucial demographic in driving Microsoft's strategy for control of the living room.
So, with its "Games for Windows" branding Microsoft hopes to alter both the perception and the reality in many gaming stores that PC games playing should be relegated to a dark corner at the back. “We’re taking PC games out of the shadows” says Moore. It is, of course in the company’s best interest to frame the PC as a consumer-friendly gaming platform – as straightforward and easy to use as console for even the most tech-unsavvy gamers.
PC gaming is a big, inclusive, money-spinning business. The latest World of Warcraft
expansion set, Burning Crusade
, sold a staggering 2.4-million units globally on its opening day. Even The Sims
continues to sell remarkably well. The fact that some Vista-related teething problems with World of Warcraft
and Final Fantasy XI
are already being reported
could represent a larget dirty fly in the ointment, though.
Vista introduces DirectX 10, a new graphics API that enables effects not previously possible, as demonstrated by stunning looking new flagship PC titles such as EA’s forthcoming Crysis
The new OS also delivers the “Vista Games Explorer”, which Microsoft claims will simplify the installation and management of games on your PC. Looking to the future there is the cross-platform ‘Live Anywhere’ functionality, which will enable PC and Xbox 360 gamers to play online together – which kicks off with titles such as Shadowrun
Discussing games such as Spore
, Age of Conan
and Hellgate: London
, Rich Wickham, Microsoft’s director of the Games for Windows Business comments†
, “I think that the 2007 [top ten sellers] list is going to look very, very different [from 2006’s] and it’s going to have a number of million sellers just in the US… I would not be at all surprised to see five titles on this platform sell a million units in 2007.”
Wickham also notes of Vista, “It’s not just the DirectX 10 games [that will benefit from Vista,] but great games like Spore
, Enemy Territory
- there’s a whole list of games that aren’t going to support DX10 but actually will run better and have a richer experience on Windows Vista…”
Obviously Microsoft has learnt something from the success of the Wii -discussing the perceived inaccessibility of PC gaming among the so-called casual gaming market, Wickham adds, “I think it’s the casual, the fallen away, the non-core gamer that’s really going to see that [accessibility] improving right away… They probably tried gaming one time on their PC and found it to be kind of hard. When they try it on Vista they’re going to see how much easier it is, and again that’s part of the plan and the idea to bring these folks back into the gaming universe. And that helps everyone.”Are you going to be switching to Vista? Tell us in the Forum below.
For more details, facts, figures and a dash of good old hyberbole, here’s Peter Moore’s Vista letter in full:
Welcome to Windows Vista
Mark your calendars: January 30th 2007 will be the most significant day in gaming for the next several years.
In just one week, we’ll release to consumers the largest and most significant advance in gaming technology Microsoft has ever made: Windows Vista.
For the first time in Microsoft’s history, we’re releasing an operating system built from the ground up with gaming as a core scenario. With a worldwide presence of over 200 million gamers of all stripes, we’re taking the world’s most popular gaming platform and making it easier, safer, and more fun for everyone, while delivering new technologies that will deliver the most powerful, most immersive, most innovative gaming experiences to the Windows platform.
Unlike any OS before, we’re driving Windows Vista as a true gaming platform, complete with a broad marketing campaign that introduces the Games for Windows brand, complemented by ground-breaking branded titles from Microsoft Game Studios as well as from many of the world’s leading game developers. We are also investing in a more consistent brand presence at retail that will create a true category that will easy for the consumer to discover and navigate.
When we merged the gaming team from Windows into the Interactive Entertainment Group, we did so to kick off a renaissance in PC gaming, fueled by two factors: the release of Windows Vista and a revitalized commitment to the platform.
Now, I couldn’t be more proud to see this renaissance come to life, with fun, new experiences that are establishing gaming as a top driver for Windows Vista adoption. Later today in New York and San Francisco we’ll give select press and community members the most in-depth look to date at what this means for all gamers, casual and hardcore alike. Here’s what they’ll see:
Under the Hood
Included with Windows Vista at launch is the availability of the next generation of graphics technology: DirectX 10.
Rebuilt from the ground up, DirectX 10 vastly improves performance, graphic fidelity, and ease of development. Many of the top game designers are already optimizing games for DirectX 10, and with the launch last November of the first DirectX 10 capable cards with Nvidia’s GeForce8800, PCs are shipping today capable of DirectX 10 gaming right out of the box.
These technologies will allow the most cutting-edge games to be within the reach of more consumers than ever before.
Only Windows Vista can deliver this experience, and with spectacular games like Crysis by Crytek and EA Partners, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Funcom/Eidos), Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games/THQ) and an update to our own Flight Simulator X later this year, this experience will be a key reason for consumers to get Windows Vista as soon as possible.
Easier, Safer, More Connected, Fun for Everyone
One of the most remarkable features of Windows Vista is how central gaming is to the entire experience.
Right from the start menu, Windows Vista makes it easier for everyone to find and play games. No more searching for icons and files scattered around your computer – Vista Games Explorer takes all your games and puts them in one place, every time you install, complete with access to community and online components for your favorite games. With Windows Vista’s native support for Xbox 360 controllers and the ability to go wireless with the Wireless Receiver for Windows, you also have the ability to decide how you want to play your games.
Gaming on Windows Vista puts parents in control. Just like Windows Vista gives parents the choice of what their children can access on the web, what programs they can use and what times they can use the computer, Windows Vista lets parents control what games their children can play, and when they can play them, through a simple set of family controls. Combined with support for every major game content rating system worldwide, parents will have both the knowledge and the ability to decide for themselves the level of access their children can have.
The ability to control your own gaming experiences was on full display at CES earlier this month, where we showed how we’re bringing the Xbox Live experience to Windows. We’re calling it LIVE, and it’s as simple as its name. Now, gamers on both Xbox and Windows will have one identity, one friends list, and one consistent set of experiences that will travel with them across both platforms. This year will produce a powerful first wave of LIVE-enabled games, starting with Uno, Shadowrun and Halo 2. And that’s just the beginning…
Windows Vista opens doors for more and more people to get into gaming, especially for casual gamers. Right now Microsoft casual games reach 120 million people every month, and by 2008 the annual revenue for casual games is expected to reach $1.5 billion. To meet this rapidly rising demand, Microsoft Casual Games will roll out eight Windows Vista-optimized titles in 2007 on the MSN Games website, including Luxor 2, Bliss Island, Crystal Quest, Spinword, Jewel Quest 2, 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, Darwinia, and the runaway Xbox Live Arcade hit Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.
Marketing the Platform
For the first time in history, we’re marketing Games for Windows as a true gaming platform, starting with redefining the brand.
The Games for Windows brand stands for a quality gaming experience, that’s easier, safer and more fun to play. We’re setting a new standard for gaming on the PC, with the best publishers in the world incorporating the Games for Windows brand into the hottest new games on the Windows platform, including Atari, LucasArts, Midway, Turbine Inc., 2K Games, THQ, Vivendi Universal, and of course, Microsoft Game Studios.
At retail, we’re taking PC games out of the shadows and giving them the spotlight they deserve. All Games for Windows titles will have consistent packaging and advertising, with playable kiosks for the biggest titles, as our new branding and merchandising campaign rolls out across the US at retail outlets including Circuit City, CompUSA, GameStop and Walmart. In years to come we’ll add more, especially worldwide, where we’ve already started with PC World and Virgin in Europe.
The Future Looks Bright
With all the excitement surrounding the launch of Windows Vista, it’s important to remember that 2007 is just the beginning for Games for Windows.
With a PC gaming renaissance touched off by Games for Windows and Windows Vista, and the release of more Windows Vista-optimized laptops, desktops and accessories, we’ll see more powerful, more innovative, and more fun gaming experiences than ever before.
We’ll see revenues from the PC gaming market grow more than ever before, as more people find it easier to get into casual and cutting-edge games alike. It’s our mission to meet this growth with a platform that’s as simple and safe as it is filled with potential and new gaming experiences.
For everyone who’s had even the slightest hand in bringing Games for Windows and Windows Vista to the consumer, you have my deepest appreciation and thanks. Together you’ve taken the most popular and historic gaming platform ever created and breathed new life into it, allowing great gaming innovations of the future to continue to happen on Windows.
Here’s to a spectacular launch,
Vista is now available in the following packages:
Vista Ultimate £369.99
Vista Home Premium £219.99
Vista Home Basic £179.99
Vista Business £289.99
Vista Ultimate Upgrade £249.99
Vista Home Premium Upgrade £149.99
Vista Home Basic Upgrade £99.99
Vista Business Upgrade £189.99†Source:next-gen