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Games For Windows

A brief explanation of Microsoft's Games for Windows initiative

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Games For Windows
The Games for Windows brand is Microsoft's initiative to introduce some standardization to PC game platform and to remove some of the complexity of playing, installing, and patching PC games. What if gaming on the PC were as simple as that of the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360? Insert the game disc, after a few seconds the game starts and you're ready to play.

The PC Gaming Platform

Before you even look at any games to buy for the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 you know that as long as you have that console, you'll be able to play any game made for it. Unfortunately that has almost never been the case for PC Gaming. Checking the minimum and recommended system requirements are a must before purchasing any PC game and more than likely all of us know the feeling of coming home with something only to find out it doesn't work. Games for Windows isn't going to solve all of the compatibility problems with PC games, there are simply too many PC configurations out there, but it should simplify the process.

When you see a PC game with the Games for Windows banner and logo across the top of the box you can be assured that the game has gone through testing by both the publisher and Microsoft to ensure they meet their necessary standards. In addition all games with the Games for Windows brand support at least a Xbox 360 compatible controller and supports wide screen resolutions. The new Windows Vista operating system also makes installation of Games for Windows titles much easier than any previous operating system by offering an easy install feature. Finally with Windows Vista all Games for Windows titles appear in Game Explorer making it easier to find and start games.

Games for Windows compatibility

The official line from Microsoft's Games for Windows site is that any Games for Windows branded titles will work on Windows XP and Windows Vista based PC. While that part is true, it only tells half of the story. Titles will still be marked with hardware requirements for CPU, graphics cards, RAM and more so having Windows Vista or XP doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to play every Games for Windows title. To help PC gamers figure out what games will run on their system Microsoft has created the Windows Game Advisor web based tool. Simply select the game you would like analyzed and then Windows Game Advisor will scan your system, analyzing the game's minimum and recommended requirements against your system to determine if there is sufficient performance to run the game.

In addition to the new games and technical standards, new Games for Windows store displays and kiosks should start making appearances in many video game retailers. Much like many Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 displays, most Games for Windows kiosks will contain playable game demos loaded onto a PC equipped with a keyboard, mouse and game controller.

Final Thoughts

It remains to be seen how much impact the Games for Windows initiative will have on the PC as a video game platform, but it's obviously a turn in the right direction for the platform with the best graphics and most versatility for everyone. The huge investment by Microsoft, developers/publishers and retailers alike indicated that no one is throwing in the towel just yet on the PC as a gaming platform.
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