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Will the upcoming new version of Windows be yet another Vista for PC gamers to worry about, or will Windows 7 be a boon for the mouse and keyboard set? TechRadar takes a look.

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Remedy Entertainment's "psychological action thriller" Alan Wake may continue to be a no-show at massive gaming events like E3 and Tokyo Game Show, but the new cinematic trailer released today proves that the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista (grrr...) only title is still in the works. Sure, the knees may be sharp, the valleys may be uncanny and the development may be worrisomely bumpy at times, but we're still excited to see Mr. Wake suffer. Logo's snazzy too!

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In another case of "Because it's there", some brave/misguided soul has gone to great lengths to get Windows Vista running on a PlayStation 3. How? Emulated via Linux, of course. That translates to blazing speeds, making the Microsoft OS boot in a mere 25 minutes. Notepad opens in just 12!! If you're interested in the techniques required to get Vista on your PS3, PS3HaX has a handy tutorial. Just think — you could be playing Minesweeper in just a few days, at single digit speed percentages! Impress your friends!

Vista running on PS3 & more BD-J homebrew

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Games for Windows - Live multiplayer features are free, effective today, Microsoft announced at today's GameFest 2008 conference in Seattle.

The move to free means that achievements, enhanced "truskill" matchmaking, cross-platform play with the Xbox 360, voice and text chat, friends lists, are all now free to Windows gamers. This change to free is for all Games for Windows LIVE titles, past and future.

Microsoft also announced plans to introduce Games for Windows - Live marketplace this fall, which will include free and paid downloadable game content, demos, trailers and "more". Finally, the company said they are working to streamline the interface for the PC and reduce technical requirements for developers. Too little, too late? Too early to tell, I say.

In other news from GameFest, DirectX 11 was unveiled.

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I got Vista a few weeks back, and have found it nothing short of delightful. No compatibility issues, no performance downgrades, none of the complaints I've heard PC gamers cussing over for the past year or so. Then again...I've been playing Oblivion and the Battlestar Galactica mod for Homeworld 2, so I haven't exactly been pushing the OS to its limits. If you're playing things a little more current, and are finding things on Vista a little slower than they should be, chin up: some benchmarks run by ExtremeTech have compared Vista's SP1 to XP's new SP3, and found that over three games tested (World in Conflict, Supreme Commander and Crysis), Vista was just as fast as XP on two, and marginally faster on Crysis.

Gaming Performance: Windows Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3

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Yeah, that question will rule a lot of you out, but for those it doesn't this should be something of a rare delight. If you've got a copy of Vista Premium, and install the vmcNetflix plug-in, you'll be able to rent streaming movies from Netflix (currently only available to Windows PCs) and - with a little jiggering - beam them over to your 360. It's apparently a little buggy, but hey, in the absence of an official deal, it's as good as you're going to get it for the moment.

vmcNetFlix

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Last week, Microsoft announced the release of PopFly, a simple program that allows users to create games without the need to know any code. Taking a number of genres as a foundation, PopFly offers a range of templates based on classic arcade games, upon which you can import your own characters, backgrounds, etc. Once done, the games can then be hosted, on stuff like websites, blogs, Facebook pages or even your Vista sidebar. It' Silverlight-only, which is a slight hassle, and is fairly basic, but hey, who said everything on this world had to be perfect?

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Surprised? You shouldn't be, considering NVIDIA drivers caused most of the crashes in Windows XP as well. It's just Vista's more graceful when it comes to handling said failures.

When Vista and DirectX 10 were announced all those years ago, it wasn't the graphics that had my giblets tingling. No, it was integration. Vista promised to treat your graphics card as part of the normal make-up of a PC, rather than an optional extra, by delivering GPU multi-tasking/scheduling and virtualised video memory. With these improvements, we got Aero Glass, Direct3D 10 and, of course, the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM).

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Bit-tech went and asked itself this very question, considering no amount of tarot card reading, crystal ball gazing or deciphering of entrails would provide a reliable answer.

To this end, the hardware review site not only reviewed Vista SP1, but vanilla Vista with hotfixes installed. This way, it could see whether SP1 was just a massive bunch of previously-released hotfixes, or if Microsoft had included some independent performance tweaks.

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Microsoft's latest version of its Windows operating system hasn't exactly been hailed as a boon to gamers, with early wonky driver support, a hit or miss Games Explorer and a handful of Vista-only releases that made little sense. But now that the OS has had time to mature, getting a few hotfixes under its belt, its more than serviceable. With Service Pack 1 coming this month, you may wonder if the big download and two hour install is worth sprinting to, rather than ambling toward.

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German site PC Games Hardware got in touch with Charles Beauchemin, the technical lead on the upcoming PC version of Assassin's Creed. In the interview, the developer confirms that the game's Direct3D 10 rendering pipeline will have better performance than its D3D 9 counterpart, while running under Vista. The thing is, in theory, Direct3D 10 should almost always be faster than Direct3D 9, but reality has shown this not to be the case.

Beauchemin goes on to say that AMD and NVIDIA's D3D 10 drivers still need work, and even once the engine code is finalised, driver updates could provide noticeable performance gains.He also mentions that the PC port of Assassin's Creed will focus on performance rather than visuals. When asked if there will be any new content thanks to D3D 10:
No. Most of the porting to DX10 involves optimisations of the existing calls, without any new content.Sure, Direct3D 10 adds some nice features, but it's always been about reducing calls and increasing efficiency. If all developers could focus on frame rates rather than getting their shaders as shiny as possible, D3D 10 might have more advocates than detractors.

So, will Assassin's Creed on PC be the first game to warrant the installation of Vista? At the very least, it might take the edge off its hefty system requirements.

News: Assassin's Creed: DX10 confirmed, faster than DX9

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Two questions: Got Windows XP? Want to play "psychological action thriller" Alan Wake? Yer fucked. The game will be available on the Xbox 360 and Vista later this year. Says Markus Maki at developer Remedy:
It is best to consider Alan Wake to be a Vista exclusive game.Hey, that's what happens when Microsoft publishes your game. That, and it kills off the PS3 version.
Alan Wake DX 10 Support Not Announced

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Following a lacklustre infomercial CES keynote, Microsoft sent out a press release this morning touting the "powerful momentum" of Games for Windows and the addition of nine new Games for Windows-branded titles including Alone in the Dark and LEGO Indiana Jones.

"Games for Windows truly thrived in 2007. We went from two titles in 2006 to a continually growing portfolio of over 60 titles here at CES 2008," said Kevin Unangst, senior global director of Games for Windows in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "We delivered on our promise one year ago to reinvigorate the PC gaming space and bring the best portfolio of games to Windows. And this is just the beginning. With our partners, we will continue to drive the resurgence of Windows-based gaming."

The full list of new GFW games includes:

• "Alone in the Dark" (Atari)
• "Bionic Commando" (Capcom)
• "Conflict: Denied Ops" (Eidos Interactive)
• "Empire: Total War" (SEGA)
• "LEGO Indiana Jones" (LucasArts)
• "Microsoft Train Simulator 2" (Microsoft Game Studios)
• "Sins of a Solar Empire" (Stardock)
• "Space Siege" (SEGA)
• "Tomb Raider: Underworld" (Eidos Interactive)

The release also went on to point out that the casual games industry generated $US 2.25 billion in revenue last year and has a projected increase of 20 percent. I wonder if that now includes the Wii? Hit the jump for the full release.

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Well technically it's multi-GPU, so if you're running a working GeForce 7950 GX2 or one of those bizarre contraptions ASUS and Gigabyte use to put together, then this includes you as well.

The patch, aimed at PCs running Windows Vista only, addresses a scheduling problem within the DirectX kernel. Here's the technobabble, which I'll attempt to decipher:
A graphics processing unit (GPU) or part of a GPU link may incur a small scheduling latency on a new Direct Memory Access (DMA) packet. This is true if the DMA packet is submitted to the GPU that has previously run out of work and if another GPU in the linked configuration is very busy. In some scenarios, significant starvation of one or more GPUs in the linked configuration reduces the expected performance of an application.Essentially, it's a load-balancing thing - the hotfix spreads the work evenly among the GPUs. It's unclear whether this affects both Direct3D 10 and Direct3D 9 games - Microsoft hasn't provided enough information to make a solid call.

The link below is for the Knowledge Base article. If you want the hotfix, I'd suggest trying elsewhere (every couple of hours) or waiting for Service Pack 1.

Graphics performance can be improved in certain multiple-GPU scenarios on a Windows Vista-based computer

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That's right folks. I need audience participation for this one.

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
1) Own a laptop that uses Intel's mobile 965 chipset
2) Have 2GB of RAM
3) Be running Windows Vista

If you have three out of three, the next step is to download the latest drivers for Intel's integrated graphics for the 965 chipset. Should be version 15.6.1.

Okay, now you're ready to run the test. You can download it by clicking here.

If the test craps out with errors almost the moment it starts, drop a comment here and let me know. Once there are a few results to go on, I'll let you know the next part.

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From what I can see from this post over at Crysis-Online.com, you don't need Windows Vista and Direct3D 10 to get all those gorgeous effects that are supposed to be "exclusive" to the new API. Windows XP and Direct3D 9 appear to cope with it fine, and even boast better performance.

My home PC is still out of commission (waiting for a new motherboard now), so I can't test the legitimacy of this, but it looks kosher. Keep in mind this is not a hack to get Direct3D 10 working on Windows XP, just to get Crysis pumping out D3D 10-like graphics in D3D 9.

Crysis was meant to sell Vista to gamers. Seems it's not the killer app we thought it was.

The details of the tweak after the jump.

DX 10 Features in Windows XP - MUST SEE