Is Vista Good for Gaming?

Three reasons Windows Vista is terrible for gaming ... and six reasons why it's great

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5. Parental Controls in Vista. Parents will love the ability to regulate the types of gaming content their children are able to play. And Windows Vista goes one step further by allowing parents to regulate when their kids are able to play games as well. This probably sounds Draconian to some, but these parental controls demonstrate that Microsoft understands parents' needs in the changing digital world.

6. DirectX 11 ... and beyond. One of the strengths of Windows-based gaming is the constant evolution of the platform at the hardware level. Microsoft has been quick to capitalize upon these hardware improvements with a constant series of revisions and upgrades for DirectX.

With DirectX 10, Windows Vista has ushered in a new architectural foundation for Microsoft's DirectX API, and it's clear that this is just a launching point for Microsoft's development team. "We'll revise DX10," Donahue says. "That's no secret."

This means that over the next five or six years of Windows' current incarnation, gamers will play games on an ever-evolving platform that will maximize the use of PC hardware. This is a far cry from the finite fixed world of console gaming on the PS3 and Xbox 360. For many gamers, this constant improvement -- and the tremendous amounts of power this evolution unlocks -- is the very reason we play PC games in the first place.

"If you look to the graphics hardware guys, they're not even close to being finished with graphics processing power," Donahue explains. "On a regular basis, we get together with these guys as well as game developers and publishers to talk about where we want [Windows gaming and DirectX] to go three to five years down the road. We then begin to map out how we're going to get there."

The Bottom Line

It is clear that over the long run, Windows Vista won't just be good for gaming -- it will be great for gaming. The presence of DirectX 10, when combined with DirectX 10-compatible video cards, will result in unprecedented levels of visual quality and will enable Windows Vista systems to outperform the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

However, we're still approximately six months away from enjoying these DirectX 10 riches, which makes upgrading to Windows Vista strictly for the gaming experience a fairly useless endeavor right now. The chance of losing compatibility with your favorite games just isn't worth it. There's only one real reason to go Vista in the short-term for gaming: the May release of Halo 2 for Vista.

But when autumn arrives and DX10 games start rolling onto store shelves, you won't be able to call yourself a PC gamer without upgrading. Just make sure to budget for that $500 DX10 3-D graphics card as well.

George Jones is the editorial director of IDG Entertainment.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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