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Microsoft showcases Vista for gaming

Microsoft showcases Vista for gaming

We met with Microsoft today and learned a lot about Vista, DirectX 10, its plans for physics, and more. First, Microsoft reiterated its plans to treat Windows gaming as a true platform. As outlined during its Tuesday press conference, Microsoft has shaken up its internal organization and integrated the Windows gaming group with the Xbox gaming group, whereas previously, PC gaming fell to the responsibility of the business side. We're glad to see PC gaming get the attention it deserves.

We also got a look at Vista's Game Explorer, which is the HQ for all of your gaming needs within the new OS. Everything from Solitaire and Minesweeper to the most hard-core FPS will be accessible from Game Explorer, which will also let you pair them with links to relevent gaming Web sites. We also saw the parental control features, which seem quite robust.

Vista lets parents set permissions based not only on the core ESRB game ratings (T for Teen, M for Mature), but also on each individual subcategory, which are standardized as well. As Microsoft's PR rep demonstrated for us, you might be willing to let your kids play M-rated games, but not those that include what the ESRB calls "strong sexual content." Given the Hot Coffee scandal with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as well as the more recent rerating of the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, we asked the Microsoft folks what happens when a game gets rerated. It felt like the question caught them off-guard. All they said was that they're working closely with the ESRB and the various game publishers and, noncommitally, "We still have time."

Finally, we got a little more clarification regarding the recent confusion about Microsoft's plans for physics support. Speculation swirled last week that DirectX 10 was going to include a component called DirectPhysics, but Microsoft later denied that anything was announced. We asked Matt Ployhar, Microsoft's DirectX 10 evangelist to clarify it for us, and the gist of his comments was that Microsoft is paying attention, and that it's excited about physics, but it has higher priorities at the moment.

According to Mr. Ployhar, "The fish that we're trying to fry right now are Vista and DirectX 10. We're at the gathering requirements phase [for physics], but we want to do it right. We're not going to rush into it."