Five months after the introduction of Games for Windows LIVE Setup 3.2, Microsoft is offering customers an update, kicking the version of the client up a notch. In this regard, gamers that have been leveraging Games for Windows – LIVE are now able to download and install a new release of the app. According to the Redmond company, “Games for Windows – LIVE Setup 3.3 upgrades users to the newest version: 03.03.0024.00.” However, Microsoft has been extremely shy when it comes down to sharing details about the release.

As it was the case with the previous Build of the Games for Windows LIVE Setup, version 3.3 is designed to play nice with PCs running Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP SP2 or SP3. Existing users of Games for Windows – LIVE will notice that the update is being automatically delivered to them. If they haven’t installed the upgrade already, it will be offered to them next time they run Games for Windows LIVE. More »

Microsoft’s latest operating system was built with the PC gamer in mind.

Every copy of Windows Vista includes DirectX 10, a set of software instructions that make photorealistic visuals run incredibly smoothly. And for the first time, PC gamers can engage in online matches against Xbox 360 players.

– Sign up for a Games for Windows Live Gold account and create a Live ID for playing online. (If you already have an Xbox Live Gold account and Gamertag, then skip this step. You can use the same account on your PC.)

– Start your Live-enabled game.

– Sign in using your Live ID when prompted.

– Access the game’s multiplayer mode to find a match to join or invite friends to play.

You can also find and launch your games more easily with the Games Explorer, which is accessible from the Start menu. Games Explorer lets you organize your collection, view box cover art and check your system’s technical specifications to ensure it can handle new games. Click Start > All Programs > Games > Games Explorer. More »

The pain…

If you’ve invested your hard earned cash on a Creative X-FI sound card and a copy of Vista, you may be feeling a bit underwhelmed right now. Some of your games may be sounding a bit flat and lifeless and you’ll have no doubt felt that sinking feeling when you edit the sound settings in your new game only to find that you can’t enable some of the fancy options. There is a good reason for this and you probably will have been told at great length about it by one of the many passengers on the anti-Microsoft bandwagon.

The Science…

If you’re an experienced PC gamer you’ll no doubt be aware of DirectX and the various functions that make up the DirectX standard, such as DirectDraw, Direct3d and DirectSound and DirectSound3D. You will probably be aware of the hype surrounding Direct3d already, given that it has now reached version 10, but that’s a story for another day. DirectSound is what we are interested in here and it is sadly missing in Vista. XP and DirectX9 featured a “Hardware Abstraction Layer” which was a piece of software that allowed Windows to talk directly to a soundcard such as the X-FI to provide hardware mixing and 3d effects for your games. Without this layer any sound you hear will be mixed using software, rendering much of your shiny new soundcard useless. More »

1. DirectX 10. Without a doubt, Vista’s support for DirectX 10 is the primary reason why gaming in the Windows environment will transcend gamers’ wildest dreams and far exceed the visual quality of even the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. “When DX10 games come out, the end result will be a significant increase in visual fidelity,” said Microsoft’s Donahue.

This means a marked increase in the number of objects and/or characters on the screen at a time, as well as dramatic impact on the level of background detail trees, water, stars in outdoor and indoor environments. It also means, for example, that characters’ clothing and fur will flap in the wind. Based on the early gameplay screenshots released for DX10 games such as Crysis, the impact of this new version of DirectX is quite clear even at a glance. (See the comparative scenes from Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures below.)

This increase in graphical quality is the result of a number of enhancements in DirectX 10 code, operations and resulting capabilities. As an example, a brand-new shader model (Version 4.0) in DX10 allows for more detailed and nuanced 3-D graphics. More »

CrunchGear has info that the Microsoft Execs are masterminding the Zune Phone as you read this news. According to CrunchGear it will be a smartphone that works homogeneously with the Zune marketplace. It will most likely not, however, run Windows Mobile. Rather it will make use of an interface similar to the current Zune, an interface considered among the best available on audio players.

Connectivity is the major concern of the device. It is said that it will be able to sync with the Xbox 360 and stream video from the system to the phone via a wireless data connection. This would be pivotal in Microsoft is proliferation of its media ambitions. Not only does it already have millions of 360s in homes capable of downloading movies, itd be able to distribute those videos directly to its phones. Speculation perhaps, but probably a much faster route to a larger GSM market than the Apple unit.

We have just received a sound tip that Microsoft is working on its very own phone to be branded under the Zune moniker. Our tipsters inform us that Microsoft execs are in meetings today hammering out details of the device and developing strategies and timescales for its release.
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